Category Archives: Papina
One of the West Coast’s more prolific manufacturers, just behind McCoy and Dooling in volume, was Al Papina. In 1946 Papina began making a metal-top flat tail car to sell to his fellow hobbyists. About one hundred of these first Papinas were made. They are quite rare today.
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By mid-1947 Papina was producing a plastic-bodied version of the car that could be set up for rail or cable competition. Frames were magnesium. By 1948 the car was available in kit form for $27.50. Assembled and ready-to-race versions were available through dealers or direct from Papina for $47.50. The plastic-bodied version featured simulated knock-offs cast in the outer wheel halves bearing the legend “P3.” This same motif was carried on the dashboard as well. The body top was available in red, cream, or blue, with the color impregnated in the plastic. Upwards of one thousand of this variant were sold before production stopped in 1949. The Papina P3 cars were a success, often figuring in major race results in the west. Orders did not appear to be a problem. The supply of quality parts from Papina’s suppliers, however, was always touch-and-go and ultimately brought about the car’s demise as a commercial venture. The September 1950 Rail and Cable carried an advertisement from Manufacturer’s Surplus Outlet of San Francisco offering the Papina kit at $9.99.
Al Papina’s daughter, Pat Menges, still lives in the San Francisco area, where her father’s cars were assembled. She told us that the entire venture was financially unsuccessful. Like many postwar, gas-powered miniature race car manufacturers, Al Papina launched his venture as a direct result of involvement in the world of full-size auto racing. He drove midgets in the thirties, and later as a car owner had, among others, Freddie Agabashian as a driver. His primary business interest supporting all this fun was a successful wheel alignment shop.
PAPINA MODEL INDUSTRIES
63 FOREST VIEW DRIVE
SAN FRANCISCO 16, CALIFORNIA