The many shapes of Pretzel
Shown below are examples of cars that were in production at
various stages of Pretzel's operation.

Original 'Model A' design Pretzel ride car, on display at the Bridgeton Nail Museum.
The 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.
 
The 'Art Deco' styled car. This was produced only for a few years in the early 1940s.
Later Pretzel tub-type car built
originally for use on portable rides.
The elegant and innovative
Pretzel Rotating Car, introduced in 1954.

     In 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.

     In the 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."

     The 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.



      In 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 different.
     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.