Category Archives: Cox
Cox Models, a former division of Estes Industries of Penrose, Colorado, was a multimillion-dollar hobby company, is one of the hobby industry’s oldest companies and is noted for its production of miniature model internal-combustion engines.
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This company, originally named “The L. M. Cox Manufacturing Co, Inc.,” was founded in 1945 by the machinist Roy Cox in Placentia, California. Cox grew up in and around his father’s bicycle shop, and he developed an interest in mechanical devices. Cox’s first products were wooden pop guns, produced in his home garage. Cox chose wood for his basic material, since metal was scarce during WW II.
When metals became readily available in the United States in 1947, Cox turned his attention to new products, beginning with a diecast metal car. This product was developed into a “whip car”, a tethered vehicle which could be manually swung in a circle at high speed. Nitro- and gasoline-powered tether cars with .60 cubic inch miniature engines capable of speeds of 100 mph (160 km/h) were quickly becoming popular. Cox’s first contribution to that growing hobby was a cast aluminum midget racer powered by a .15 engine by Cameron Brothers.
Cox Manufacturing enjoyed a large postwar growth due in part to its production of miniature model internal combustion engines and tethered model aircraft, finally moving to a new factory inSanta Ana, California, in 1963. The factory started at 80,000 square feet (7432 square meters). Three expansions in a few years’ time saw expansion to 225,000 square feet (20,903 square meters) and introduction of a line of slot cars, model rockets, HO scale model trains, and a full-sized, one-horsepower gasoline-powered chain saw.
Roy Cox retired in 1969, and he sold the company to the hobby conglomerate “Leisure Dynamics”. Kites, toy walkie-talkies, and yo-yos were added to the Cox company products. A major step toward participation in the growing radio controled hobby business happened in 1976 with the acquisition of the radio manufacturer “Airtronics”.
By 1983, Leisure Dynamics was facing bankruptcy. Their engineer William Selzer, the designer of the “Babe Bee” .049 aircraft engine, joined with a local businessman to purchase the Cox company. The new company, Aeromil Engineering Company, changed the name of the company from Cox Company to Cox Hobbies, Incorporated, in 1984. Growth of the company continued, but its factory space became fragmented since the operations were spread out over a number of leased buildings. This prompted a move to a consolidated facility in Corona, California, in 1990.
In January 1996, a leading model toy rocket manufacturer, Estes Industries, purchased Cox Hobbies, Incorporated, and relocated operations from Southern California to the Estes facility in Penrose, Colorado. This signaled a major change in marketing direction for the new company, now known as Cox Models. A great many new products were aimed towards a mass marketand they were sold in large chain stores and discount stores.
Since then, Cox has returned to its hobby roots and is once again offering its products through hobby stores. The product line came to include a line of radio-controlled model aircraft.
Some of the former Cox model train line is now sold by the Wm. K. Walthers company.
Thimble Drome Doodle Bug
Manufactured approx. in 1949 -.09 engine
As the small “Special” lacked power in comparison to other tether cars, Cox developed the “Champion” family. These models were advertised in form of a pusher and also in three powered versions. The smallest one equipped with a .098 c.i. engine was named “Doodle Bug” (1949). The medium sized “Champion 15” was powered by a .147 c.i. engine (1948) and the most powerful variant, the “Lightning Bug” came with a displacement of .199 c.i. (1949). This version was advertised as reaching speeds of up to 75 miles per hour.
The glow engines for these cars were again produced by the Cameron brothers in Chino California.
All these Cox cars had cast aluminum bodies and were painted in various colors. Additional parts like handbrake or the dummy radiator grille on the Champion were of cast aluminum too.
prices in 1949:
Champion – pusher model #303C, $3.95
Doodle Bug – .09 powered model #303C-09, $29.95
Champion 15 – .15 powered model #303C-15
Lightning Bug – .19 powered model #303C [/spoiler]