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which were open only to members (a

Playboy “key” was initially required

but was later replaced with a plastic

credit card). Hostesses and waitresses

were Playboy Bunnies in their unique

“uniforms.” There were about a dozen

or so clubs across the country and by

the late 1960s they were joined by

three resorts: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

(just north of Chicago); Great Gorge,

New Jersey (ninety minutes west of

Manhattan); and in Jamaica.

Shelby Automotive’s marketing and

advertising departments were con-

vinced that the readers of


magazine were the perfect target au-

dience. Their advertising agency had

conducted an exhaustive survey of po-

tential magazines, demographics and

cost analysis. The research showed

that Playboy magazine was the single

best place to advertise. However,

Shelby Automotive’s advertising

budget was nowhere near large

enough to allow them to do more than

one ad every couple of months. They

were able to negotiate with



use of some of their cars in return for

placing full-page, color ads. Having

Shelbys readily available to Playboy

photographers greatly increased the

opportunity of getting them in the

magazine as part of an article, instead

of as a paid-for ad. Also part of the con-

tract was that Playboy would supply

Playmates to Shelby Automotive to

make personal appearances at dealer-

ships and car shows.

SAAC has identified eleven 1968

models (ten convertibles and one fast-

back) which went to Playboy Enter-

prises. The paperwork consists mostly

of warranty claims for small problems

such as replacement of non-function-

ing components, or various misalign-

ments and adjustments. The warranty

forms showed that the cars were as-

signed to Shelby Automotive’s Market-

ing Manager, George Merwin. The

convertibles were all shipped to

Shelby franchised dealers closest to

the Lake Geneva Resort: Northwest-

ern Motor Car Co. in Milwaukee, Wis-

consin and Minar Ford in

Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Summer 2016 80

A brief article in


November, 1965 issue containing a chart of comparison data on “Playboy cars” was turned into a piece

of showroom literature by Shelby American. This is an example of the cross pollination between Playboy and Shelby American.