Motor Trend's Car (and Truck and Sport/Utility) of the Year Award have long been symbolized by the "Golden Calipers" trophy. But it wasn't always that way.
Prior to 1971, when the current design was inaugurated, all manner of plaques, plinths, and medals represented our annual "of the Year" program. The earliest presentation pieces were cast medallions. Later came fairly simple wood or marble towers that carried metal plaques denoting the year, the name of the winner, and a quote from the story about the car.
For the 1962 award, Kaiser Aluminum created a new, space age-inspired trophy that featured a silver sphere atop an extruded gold-anodized aluminum shaft. And sitting on that sphere was a set of machinist's calipers. The calipers went away for a while, as seen on the 1966 trophy. In 1967, the award was redesigned to mark the return of, and place greater emphasis on, those calipers, now resting on a black and gold-plated base, the top portion of which was toothed to represent a gear. Finally, in 1971, the machinist calipers gave way to the design that's in use today.
Yes, we know: The currently represented calipers are really the kind used for woodwork, not automotive duty. Why? Because that's what was used on the earliest medallions struck to commemorate the award in the early '50s. So we've just returned to our roots. And, after 32 years with our current design, it's not likely we're going to change them back again.
Coverage - December 1965
Few times has the Car of the Year pick been more obvious than it was for 1966. Oldsmobile was a technology leader during the '60s and demonstrated this fact with the new front-drive Toronado. Though FWD was somewhat commonplace on foreign-built economy cars, it was flat-out revolutionary for a postwar,
V-8-powered domestic luxury coupe. The Toronado was also a triumph of design; its clean flanks and well grounded proportions still look right today. While Car of the Year lives on, the Toronado died some years back--with the Oldsmobile division too soon to follow.