kjr super car: horrible crippling of laughter

by Art Chantry ( art@artchantry.com)

you can keep yer oscar meyer wienermobile and your pope-moblie and yer batmobile, too. when it comes to mighty advertising novelty cars, the northwest corner of these united states had the mightiest baddest ‘mobile’ of them all – the KJR SUPER CAR!!! nothing was more massive and intimidating. designed to literally fly over the traffic with a jet engine, the sight of this monster zipping down interstate 5 was an awesome sight. you DEFINITELY got out of it’s way!

AC: this image is from a an old postcard. the caption on the back reads: "left to right... pat o'day (3 till 6 p.m. on KJR) and lan roberts (approximately 6 till 9 a.m. on KJR). they posed after completing wind tunnel tests on the revolutionary "KJR freeway super car". the boys sometimes believe that supercar is actually alive and feed the car popsicles... note look of concern on lan's face, he feels the engine should run lean and wants pat to give it low-cal fudgesicles."

in this photo at the wheel of the mighty super car is none other than the greatest hypester radio Dj of them all – PAT O’DAY! (in the back seat, looking scared is the notorious lan roberts). when it came to pushing a publicity stunt down the throats of american youth demographics of the mid 60′s, there was none more astonishing and more powerful than the tacoma-born pat o’day. o’day (taking his surname from seattle’s ‘o’deah’ high school on cap hill) tirelessly promoted rock and roll radio to national extremes (being one of the first to promote a ‘top 40′ format – in his case expanding it to a ‘fab 50′), and constantly bringing it all back home by endlessly promoting local bands on his station. the ventures ‘walk, don’t run’ was picked out of the blue – out of nowhere – to be his signature calling card and radio theme song. he virtually broke ‘louie louie’ onto the national airwaves.

from his flying saucer landing pads to ceaselessly sponsoring and promoting hydroplanes racing to promoting (along with partner dick curtis) rock and roll ‘teen spectaculars’ (teaming up local talents like the wailers, the sonics and the merrilee & the turnabouts alongside the likes of the rolling stones and the kinks and the who), there was nothing he couldn’t (and didn’t) do. his early dances at places like the spanish castle ballroom and various armories grew into the national concert promotion/management company ‘concerts west’. pat was the guy who hooked up jimi hendrix as the opening act for that notorious monkees tour (it didn’t last long). along the way, he used all this promotion to make his local am radio station KJR into something like like (according to some stories) an astonishing 65% audience share, making it one of the three largest dominant radio stations in america. in fact, his ‘granny peters’ alter-ego was made into the regional hit ‘granny’s pad’ by the viceroys. in 1965, no wardrobe was complete without a ‘kjr go-go’ button on the lapel.

never one to pass up a great goofy idea, in 1965 he was approached out of the blue by a local boeing company aircraft engineer named (oddly enough) ‘james brown’. his claim was that he had designed a new super patrol car for the washington state patrol to catch speeders. this car was equipped with a jet engine to literally fly over the top of traffic to apprehend speeding scofflaws. he also had designed-in mounted machine guns in the front end ala james bond. however, the state patrol declined to back it after they took one look at it (imagine that!) at this point it was powered by a used edsel engine mounted on a 1/2 ton truck frame.

pat o’day immediately snapped it up (who wouldn’t?) and christened it the mighty “KJR SUPER CAR”. it was driven all over the region and prominently displayed at any event with more than 5 people attending. it was ubiquitous for a summer, you couldn’t escape the super car. it was always promoted with deadly serious tongue-in-cheek intentions of breeding a race of super cars for the world. i remember as a kid passing this thing on the freeway and being both horrified and crippled with laughter by it.

when it came time for the annual ‘seattle seafair torchlight parade’ (and annual festival event that included a night time float parade held under artificial light – quite beautiful in it’s prime), the radio station immediately wanted this THING to be in the parade. the officials rejected it as a joke and ‘ugly’. but, pat o’day persisted and managed to get it into the parade, where it became the crowd pleasing hit of the event.

unfortunately, about 3/

the way through the parade, something finally went wrong with the all-powerful super car and it actually CAUGHT FIRE! nobody could do anything about it. so, it burned to ground, right there in the street as the parade wound around the smoldering corpse ruins of the once mighty KJR super car.

try to beat that shit, batmobile!


AC:didn’t take much to be a ‘homie’ back then. kjr was THE radio station for an entire quadrant of the country – the northwest. it was blasting everywhere you went. the soundtrack of our youth.

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