Pop Print/Mod Top Genesis?


Mel Wolff and four of Tom Strobel’s creations


(first posted 10/6/2012)    What inspired Plymouth to offer the Mod Top option on the 1969 Plymouths? Quite possibly it was the paint jobs created in 1966 by Chicago artist Tom Strobel, for Chicago Chrysler-Plymouth dealer Mel Wolff.

In the summer of 1969, I worked for Tom Strobel designing and building two sculptures that dispensed “art”. Strobel had acquired a couple of coin-operated machines that would, for the princely sum of 25 cents, deliver a clear plastic egg filled with “found art” that Strobel had stuffed into them. My assignment was to package the coin-op machine in an attention-grabbing fashion. I did the job with a tower painted in a Captain America theme (think Peter Fonda’s chopper in Easy Rider) topped with a Jacob’s Ladder that continuously emitted scary-sounding zaps. The crowds ate it up. I used Strobel’s Chrysler 300, complete with the Op Art paint job shown in the photo, as a parts chaser. Needless to say, that 300 drew its share of attention on the street.


The ’66 300 was big, really BIG!


Strobel didn’t confine himself to Op Art treatments, as you can see in the top photo with Mel Wolff. He created at least two cars, a Plymouth Satellite convertible and a Chrysler Newport, with floral treatments. Could they have influenced Plymouth to offer Mod Tops in 1969? Quite possibly. Mel Wolff had painted the cars to draw attention to his dealerships, and the Chrysler 300 with the Op Art treatment was featured in Playboy magazine, which gave his paint treatments national, if not international, exposure.



Strobel also gave his floral-themed treatment to a 1965 VW Microbus. It was beyond slow. Good times.