Transparent versions of classic products

 Articles Wp-Content Uploads 2011 08 Clear302-Web Last month, Cory posted about a magnificent Plexiglass 1939 Pontiac up for auction. The gavel dropped at $308,000! Over at Collectors Weekly, BB pal Ben Marks posts a few of his other favorite transparent versions of familiar products.
The Western Electric 302. Designed by Henry Dreyfuss, the 302 was the workhorse of the Bell System for two decades. This example from was cast in clear resin. Like the Ghost Car, it was made for the New York World’s Fair.
"For Collectors, Clear Is the New Black"


  1. In the vintage fountain pen community, “Demonstrators” have always been highly sought out collectors’ items. They’re transparent pens that were carried by the pen company’s sales force to point out the technological advantages of the product.  In a field, where the subtle differences in the mechanicals are one of the primary distinguishers between pens and part of why people rmain interested, it’s understandable. It also doesn’t hurt, of course, that true sales Demonstrators were rare.

  2. Transparency models are great for touching, but don’t cutaway models relate more visual information?

  3. Transparent versions of modern electronics are available albeit at a substantially higher price.  Prisoners in certain institutions can own computers, boom boxes & telephones.  Transparent versions are the only ones permitted to prevent contraband from being hidden within.

  4. Back in the 60s Bell Telephone would rent you a phone (it was illegal to own the phone you used)  with the plastic colored to order. They would mold a standard Western Electric phone in a custom color matched batch of plastic in any color you wanted. Except clear. I saw a presentation where a Bell rep was showing off a trimline phone in a clear case. The design of the dial mechanism that was needed to fit it into the handset was amazing to watch. Somehow I talked my mom into ordering a clear  trimline phone and after several months of waiting and promises that the phone was on the way we finally heard back from the phone company that they could get us any color other than clear even though they had clear demonstrator phones for their reps. Years later I had a friend who had worked in the lab where Western Electric drop tested phones. He said that phones in clear plastic would break after only a couple hundred drops from 6 feet. Apparently the pigment prevented microscopic cracks from spreading.

    I’d still jump at the chance to get a clear dial Trimline.

    1. He said that phones in clear plastic would break after only a couple hundred drops from 6 feet.

      Exactly how many times are we expected to drop our phones?  I’m not convinced our old red wall model from Pacific Telephone could have survived more than a few dozen drops onto the linoleum floor.

Comments are closed.