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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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Yes, Virginia, Santa Did Arrive via Rocket Ship. And a Rocket Sleigh. And a Super Rocket...

Posted December 29, 2021 9:18 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: Exotics

Traditional Christmas tales have Santa piloting a magical flying sleigh. The Beach Boys envisioned him in a souped-up candy apple red hot rod. Chuck Berry thought Santa could get around faster by taking the freeway down. But Lloyd Laster of Tyler, Texas, had an altogether different idea of how Santa Claus got around: rockets.

Can't blame him, really. In the Fifties, rockets and jets captured everybody's fascination, so Laster capitalized on the trend with the first Santa's Rocket Ship, a commercial bus of unknown origin rebodied in aluminum with rows of portholes, a pair of warp nacelles up top, a set of token skis at each skirted wheel, and rows of North Pole portholes for windows. His scheme called for hiring a guy in a Santa suit, a couple of leggy elves, and a driver, then charging malls around the South and Southwest to show up and give kids the chance to take a ride with the jolly old elf.

Laster decided one just wasn't enough - likely due to the limited window in which he could operate the custom vehicle (though we can imagine he took off the skis and changed the lettering to find non-seasonal uses for his investment) - so he built three more Santa's Rocket Ships as well as Santa's Rocket Sleigh, Santa's Space Sleigh, and Santa's Super Rocket. The various rides incorporated plexiglass roof inserts (making them look something like the Citroen U55 Cityrama sightseeing buses in Paris) and a special intercom system that would allow Santa to phone the kids' Christmas gift requests straight to the North Pole. As many as 100 to 120 kids could fit in the vehicles at any one time.

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