The pink Playboy cars have earned their own little niche in history and this is what we know about the cars and where they are now.
Since 1953 Playboy has been showing the world its girls, along with articles and interviews by some of the best-known people in entertainment and sports. All starting with Hugh Hefner, a friend of the son, of a woman who worked in the short-lived Playboy Motor Car Company out of Buffalo N.Y. Who suggested the name to Hugh, who at the time was just starting his magazine. Even though the magazine didn’t start until 1953, the first car wasn’t given to a Playmate until 1964. A bright pink Mustang Convertible, complete with pink luggage, and a pink Honda 50 motorcycle.
As a promotion for the then brand new model, Ford gave a Mustang sporting a light shade of pink, called Playmate Pink, to the Playmate of the Year in 1964. That kick-started a pink craze in the Mustang car line, and Ford was ready to offer a special order Playmate Pink for “only” 1965. Passionate pink was offered until 1968 at select dealers, which shared the same color code as the Playmate color. Dusk Rose, a slightly less bold pink, was also an option offered by Ford on more than just Mustangs.
In 1968 a west coast color promo offered Hot Pink as a choice, which is the original Playmate Pink color. The other pink offered, was so during the beginning months of ’68. Called Eastertime Pink, which was named Caribbean Pink for the same west coast promo.
The last time pink was offered as a color was in 1972, after a 4 year hiatus. Pink fell out of favor and was justly cut to make way for trending colors of the 70’s, and wouldn’t be seen on another Mustang till 2008, when a trim package called “Warriors in Pink” added pink stripes and accents to V6 Mustangs.
Now with all that covered, Donna Michelle’s personal Mustang was pictured with her then seemingly lost. Only to supposedly saved from a Texas town and sent to Australia in 2005. But this was proven to not be the true Playmate Mustang as it has a black interior rather than the white one pictured. Through this I found a reply to this photo, claiming the car was painted a Dark Green by Donna and her husband as they found the pink too much. Whether the man was truly a friend of her husband, or it’s really being resurrected in Australia, there is no definite proof. All I really know to clue in on this one of a kind beauty, is that the color code is blank.
The following year saw another woman given a car painted pink by Playboy. This time Jo Collins, a half-Norwegian and half-Spanish Oregon native, was given a 1965 Sunbeam Tiger. Shelby’s “other Cobra,” as people liked to call, it was partially engineered by Carroll Shelby for the Rootes Group which owned the Sunbeam name, and gave Carroll $10,000 and 8 weeks to produce an exciting car that they hoped would improve their visibility in the auto market. Shelby started with a stock Alpine, and created another short-wheelbase roadster, with the crackle of an American V8. The “Baby Cobra” was made from 1964- 67, with about 3,800 produced in the 3-year span. Sunbeam production seized when Chrysler purchased the Rootes Group.
As for Jo’s personal pink Tiger, it was originally painted a shade of white called “Moonstone”, then repainted Playboy Pink for the Playmate’s gift. All I found was a small mention of the car in a forum and residing in Surrey, British Columbia. Now painted Red.
1966 saw a new playmate in the form of the famous redhead, Allison Parks. She was given the choice for a new Dodge Charger, which stopped the open top trend that was brewing with the first two ladies. She opted for the Dodge because she had children, and wanted something to carry around them in. Which with the 383 V8, gave her plenty of power to haul around a little more if needed.
1966 was the first year for the Coronet based Charger. With a fastback roofline and a hid away grille, there wasn’t much too different from its sister car. Popular sales ensured its survival for the next 2 years till a redesign made the Charger the name it’s famous for today. In ’66 only one color that could be even closely associated with pink, was Mauve (a light metallic purple). It wasn’t until 1970 that the Hi-Impact colors were introduced, including in it color code FM3, known better as Panther Pink for the Dodges, and Moulin Rouge for Plymouth.
This is the first of the few I couldn’t seem to find where it went, lost among the almost 37,000 non-Hemi motored Chargers built that year. Which I found as a shame, and only left me wondering where this unusually painted early icon went to.
1967 saw Lisa Baker named as Playmate of the Year, and she was gifted a familiar pink shaded 1966 Plymouth Barracuda, the only Plymouth ever gifted to one of the girls as after this Playboy decided to offer better cars to the ladies. Least that’s the excuse we were given, for a 2009 Mazda 6 is a poor example of this ideal in our minds, but moving on. With 10 more built for the occasion, all given the paint code #999 and made out of the California plant, that was the last seen or heard of the Barracuda, for this one was too lost among the years, leaving us again scratching our heads to the question of how you lose a bright pink car.
’68 had Victoria Vetri, better known as Angela Dorian, winning her ’68 AMC AMX, again in the bright Playmate Pink. This car was my break time during this article for this AMX has the best-documented history for the pink Playmate cars. With articles by Hemmings and a video that Jay Leno did for his Jay Leno’s Garage Youtube series. Since it’s been so well gone over I’m not gonna retell a story so over-saturated, but simply connect dots and mention that there may be 2 or 3 different AMC AMXs in the famous pink tone.
First off, the car in the Playboy issue isn’t her prize car, that car was rushed into painting for that one particular photo shoot, and most likely repainted and sold afterward. Her real present was given to her and not too long after the issue came out featuring her on the AMX. Cops and people noticed her and she was stopped quite a bit before she painted the car brown, which stopped the harassment. By the time Mark Melvin bought the car from a dealer in Venice, it had been painted gray and finally black, only identifiable by the color code “00” and the plaque on the dashboard recalling Victoria’s measurements at the time.
Next thing is a couple of stories I ran across while reading u. One is that a pink AMX was done for Angela when she visited the Playboy Club in St. Louis. Another story I find more interesting was another pink AMX, ordered by a Mississippi school teacher who paid the 200 extra bucks to order her 390 V8 AMX with the Go Package, to be painted pink. Whether this story has any ground is beyond me, but I think it amusing to picture a schoolteacher riding in her pink AMC into her school parking space every morning. So counting these stories true, out of 6,725 AMXs made, 2 or 3 are or were once pink.
This Playmate’s car, is perhaps the most sought after of them all. That would be Connie Kreski’s 1969 Shelby GT500. Of only 1,781 made, only 1,557 coupes were made, 1 was Gray, then repainted pink for the blonde beauty. Serial number 1027, painted pastel gray was bought for the Playmate, after receiving it there was mention it was painted green. After that is a mystery every original Shelby Mustang lover has wondered at least once. It’s not in the Shelby Classic registry, and I’d think they’re looking the hardest.
1970 saw Ford back on the front page of the Playboy Magazine, this time in the form of the German imported Mercury Capri, with Claudia Jennings, known later as the queen of “B” movies, standing next to the small car. Powered by a 70hp 4-cylinder motor, this is perhaps the farthest you could get away from the Shelby offered in the year prior. Finding this car lead to nothing, no one has even asked where this car is, or least actively gone to look for it in the past few years. I imagine its sitting in a barn, or maybe long gone. Recycled by nature or a car scrapper, which is unfortunate for car lovers like me, who would like to think the little, overlooked classic survived.
1971 switched things up at Playboy, as Sharon Clark was given a pink and red Spectra speedboat. But the cars were back for 1972 and in full flash with a DeTomaso Pantera given to Liv Lindeland. This one excited me the most as it’s little known that my first love was a blue DeTomaso Pantera GT5S. Her 351 Cleveland powered Italian beauty was originally white, and shortly after purchase was repainted.
I could imagine Liv had many problems, as it’s well known how DeTomaso had reliability issues for a good portion of its first 3 years, and by the time the issues were fixed it was much too late to save face. Although through this bad reputation saw a cult following. People taking care of the car and righting the wrongs of the beautiful tragedy.
Despite all the failure, Liv’s Pantera was sold on Hemmings in 2015. Now red and black, with seats from a ’69 Vette and numerous engine upgrades bringing the final number up to almost 500hp. The only hint that its the famous Playmate’s car is a warranty book that’s filled out to Playboy. Not to say that this car is definitely the one, but I haven’t been able to find a tell that any other DeTomaso was sent to the Playboy company. So I guess taken at face value, its a old survivor that has some new tricks.
In 1973 America hit the oil and gas problems full on, and Playboy went elsewhere for it’s present to Marilyn Cole. A Volvo 1800ES became the first and perhaps only shooting brake styled car given to a Playmate. A steady 112hp 4 cylinder powered the little wagon. Out of a little over 8,000 made, this only pink Volvo had been lost in time. With only a slight word of it being painted Red, no other knowledge of the whereabouts has been noted, leaving me at another dead end for a rather interesting choice when considering the kind of cars that have been given out before.
1974 was back to form with Cyndi Wood getting a Mercedes-Benz 450SL roadster. The R107 lasted from 1971 until 1989, the longest any Mercedes has lasted. The 450SL lasting until 1980, which during that time 66,298 were built. 6,093 in 1974. A fine car at speed this rather luxorious car came with a removable hard top and a V8 with up to 222hp. Finding info on Cyndi’s car provided nil, it’s not even known whether the car was pink or not. Some say no, where the pictures clearly show a pretty lady standing in front of a pink Mercedes, even the hubs are pink! But it’s unknown where this car ended.
This last one is a bit difficult for me to talk about, being a huge Porsche fan. The engineer who helped build the 550 Spyder in the 50’s, Ernst Fuhrmann was in charge and he didn’t want the 911 in the lineup, causing the car to be often over looked when cars like the 914 and 928 were in production. Not to say there is anything wrong with those cars, they’re wonderful in their own right. But the 911 has always been a poster child for Porsche until this time. Also during this time Marilyn Lange was given the last Playmate Pink car given as a gift, a pink Porsche 911S. One of 2079 S’ built from August 1975 to July 1976, with the company offering nothing close to the pink tone till the following year with “Raspberry”. The original pink Porsche hasn’t been discovered, and it doesn’t seem like anyone has any leads as far as a number tag goes. I like to think it’s living somewhere, long restored and tended for like many surviving Porsches from this decade are.
After over 10 years of the pink gifts given to the most beautiful women Playboy has found, the Playmate Pink color was retired for Lillian Muller’s red BMW 530i. And after almost 50 years, a couple have survived, others are rumored, and the rest lost to time, perhaps to be found later on and enjoyed then. They may not be pink until restored due to just the type of attention the ladies got from driving such cars, as exampled from the harassment that Angela endured. Which is a perfectly understandable reason to simply repaint and/or sell the car to someone else with little knowledge how potentially valuable this cars would be today. I know if I’m out and about, and I see a Porsche or a ’69 GT500 at a car show or meet, I’m gonna be looking closely at the seams, to find any trace of the extravagant, bright pink, offered to only one lovely lady who graced the magazines and perhaps many minds across America, and maybe the World.