Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A full size Tonka truck at SEMA 2016 

The original rendering courtesy of Dave's Garage

Many attendees of the 2016 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas remember playing with Tonka trucks. To commemorate their upcoming 70th anniversary in 2017, Tonka commissioned Dave’s Garage in Simi Valley California to build this custom 1947 Chevrolet stake bed truck to be used throughout the year as a marketing platform which will include a cross-country tour. 

Tonka trucks were originally the product of Mound Metalcraft in Mound, Minnesota which was originally formed to manufacture garden implements, however the three partners in Mound Metalcraft thought that toy trucks might make a good sideline.  The trio chose the Dakota Sioux word "Tonka", which means "great" as the name of their new toy line introduced in 1947.  

The custom 1947 truck which is reminiscent of the classic design Tonka stake truck rides on a TCI chassis and is powered by a Cummins Diesel engine, fitted with a wooden bed from Bed Wood & Parts and metal parts supplied by Fleming Metal Fabricators.


The logo on the truck is the one used by Tonka from 1970 to 1973; the waves are meant to suggest Lake Minnetonka which is near Mound. Tonka moved manufacturing from Mound to El Paso, Texas in 1982. In 1991, Hasbro Incorporated bought Tonka Toys and in 1998, Hasbro moved the Tonka steel truck manufacturing out of the United States to China. Tonka today is a division of Funrise Toy Corporation which has expanded the product line to include diecast vehicles.

Color photos by the author except as noted

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