many shapes of Pretzel
Shown below are examples of cars that were in production at
various stages of Pretzel's operation.
'Model A' design Pretzel ride car, on display at the Bridgeton
standard Pretzel Ride Car, produced for over three decades.
This was the great workhorse of
the Pretzel Company and remains one of the
most durable amusement cars ever built.
'Art Deco' styled car. This was produced only for a few years
in the early 1940s.
Pretzel tub-type car built
originally for use on portable rides.
elegant and innovative
Pretzel Rotating Car, introduced in 1954.
addition to the cars shown above, Pretzel used a somewhat streamlined
version of their standard car on some of their double-deck portable
dark rides. There was also a fiberglass body under development
near the end of operations.
mid-forties, the 'Art Deco' design appeared. A rather incongruous
addition to the previous vehicle styles, these cars failed to
attain long-term popularity. As Mr. Cassidy related:
"That was one of my ideas. I
remember getting a letterhead that had that kind of a design
and I thought that would be a good style for a car.
See those bars decorating the side? I have about
40 of them in the garage right now. Those were annealed brass;
we chromed and bent them. They were ˝
inch square. Different ages, different
things. At the time I thought it was advance styling. Now it
looks corny. This was just before I took over the company myself.
I don’t think we made many of them."
tub cars represented the greatest structural departure from
the long-term design. Still, it essentially
maintained the same functions with the exceptions
of the trackwheel, which was changed to dual wheels for greater
stability on the speedier and tighter turns found in Pretzel's
double-deck rides. Ironically, this was the same arrangement
used by Traver/Chambers decades earlier on their competing dark
ride system. The other change was the abandonment of the original
reduction gear cluster, in use since the ride's introduction.
This was dropped in favor of an integrated gearhead motor connected
by chain to an axle sprocket.
the early fifties, Pretzel launched perhaps their most interesting
dark ride vehicle, the rotating car, or 'spinner', devised by
shop superintendent Elmer Lawrence. The car was fashioned in an
oval shape with a high, heart-shaped upholstered seat back. Riders
sat facing outward toward the side rather than forward.
Once inside the ride, a floor trip
unlocked the passenger unit, which was
mounted on a spindle, independent of the chassis. The riders were
then rotated alternately clockwise and counterclockwise as the
car traced the usual labrinthine path. In the darkness with eerie
figures floating by, this provided a highly disorienting ride
experience, to say the least. Just prior to exit, the car was
turned and locked again in the loading position.
The rotating cars were sold in newly
built rides and marketed to current Pretzel owners
as a way to update their rides since the new cars could operate
on the existing
track. It was also claimed that they would increase repeat business
because the rotation made each trip through the ride a little
Apparently, though, most parks possessing
these cars eventually disengaged the rotating function. Various
reasons have been given, among them the claim that they caused
dizziness and that riders complained about not always being able
to see every stunt. Another possibility was maintenance: fewer
moving parts meant fewer things to fix. But for those of us who
remember riding on a Pretzel with these cars in full spinning
mode, it was an incomparable experience.