The Coca-Cola Time Machine!

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Have you ever wanted your own time machine? Ever wonder what life was like in the 1950s? Well, I think you’d be surprised at how many things just wouldn’t surprise you. That’s right, so many of the same pleasures from nearly a century ago are still enjoyed today. Take for instance, soda – well specifically, Coca-Cola. For well over a century, Americans have been enjoying the red brand’s delicious drink, and things aren’t slowing down anytime soon. 

You could get a soda from the grocery store counter, your favorite diner, or a vending machine. While we don’t try to indulge too much into soda and vintage memorabilia at, now and again there are treasures we can’t pass on either. So when we’re offered the next closest thing to a time machine – we bend our rules a little bit. Vintage Coca-Cola products are extremely popular, and never go out of fashion. Whether you’re strictly collecting Coca-Cola products, or just a lover of 20th century Americana, there’s going to be a few pieces you ‘must-have’ in your collection.

Well, without further ado, allow me to open up the cooler that leads directly back in time. A few months ago we managed to ring in a massive Coca-Cola collection. We had everything from Coca-Cola lamps, playing cards, kitchenware, rugs, utensils, and so much more featuring the Coca-Cola branding. No product stood out more than the vintage drink machines and coolers that came in with the deal. We were blown away by the vintage designs of these machines – each of which had more character than most of the drab self-serve coolers you see in the present day. Now that we’ve managed to unload them off of the truck, and into the warehouse – I think it’s time we take a closer look at these vintage coke machines together. 

The Cavalier Models



During the 1950s self-service drinks machines were taking the country by storm. Whether it was a small Mom & Pop shop down the block or the coolest hangout spot in town, there was always a drink machine present. From a business standpoint, it was a product that sold itself without needing much if any manpower, making the appeal of these machines that much greater for business owners. Cavalier Corp was one of few companies to jump into the vending machine market during the 1950s, and found success with their CS-96-A and CS-72-B models. 

The first machine, the CS-96-A you see pictured above, was a massive five and a half foot tall machine with a whopping 96 bottle capacity, though that number does dip a little if you go beyond the traditional 6oz size. The 96-A saw a limited run from 1957 - 1959, and would be one of Cavalier Corp’s better selling models thanks to the see-through glass door display. Few have stood the test of time, though you can find some incredible restoration pieces on the internet. You’d be surprised at how far a glass door display can go – making the CS-96-A models one of the most desirable pieces on the market. 

Cavalier Corp didn’t just make the 96-A and call it a day. While not as tall as the 96-A, the CS-72-B was just as reliable and desirable for small businesses during the 50s. This 58” fridge boasted an impressive 72-bottle capacity for traditional 6oz bottles, and just like the 96-A was only in production for two short years from 1957-1959. 

Both models also signal the end of an era, with each being one of the last few round top models to hit the market before the square top would become the industry standard amongst vending machines. Their simple coin operated mechanism made them easy to use, and provided vendors with a fairly straightforward maintenance regimen that kept them in use for years and years to come. 

Both machines are hard to come by these days. The few that remain typically range from total rust-bucket to a restoration masterpiece. Finding something in between is difficult, which is why we’re even more fortunate to have a couple of pieces that fall just in the middle. They’re not totally gone, but also should be a fairly straight-forward restoration project with most of the original parts and overall frame still intact. If you’re a collector of vintage Coca-Cola products, then I’d have to say these Coca-Cola vending machines belong at the top of your list. 

It Cools Drinks and Warms Hotdogs?

Dubbed the “Holy Grail” by vintage vending machine collectors – the Kooler grill/cooler from Victor is a once in a lifetime find, and somehow has managed to get one into our inventory. Originally released in 1954, the Kooler grill was a revolutionary product during its time being able to store and cool bottles of delicious Coke while simultaneously keeping mouth-watering hotdogs warm on the roller grill. The capacity for this cooler is huge with the ability to hold well over 100 cans of Coca-Cola!

This machine features a 2-door bay with one side having a hot-dog roller and the other side featuring a drink cooler for delicious Coke products. With collectors saying that one in ten typically survive I’m a little surprised we were able to get one in such decent shape. Most of my findings on the internet once again range from ‘totally gone’ to ‘masterfully restored’ and just like the previously mentioned vending machines, our Kooler grill happens to fall just in the middle of that spectrum. With just a few left in circulation today, it truly is like stepping into  a time machine whenever one of these pops up. 

American Retro

The last of the coolers we were fortunate enough to find is this nearly 3’ tall model from American Retro. Released during the 1950s, the AR-1500-2 cooler was a 'coin-less' self-serve machine. This machine features a bottle opener, lid catcher, and a whopping 80-can capacity! The model would typically be tended by a vendor who would collect nickels and dimes in exchange for a delicious bottle of Coca-Cola. 


This model was probably the most foretelling piece of the future of vending machines – heavily emphasizing the self-serve aspect we commonly associate vending machines with today. While most have gone the way of the Dodo bird, now and again a collector is able to preserve one, and fortunately for all of us – a dedicated collector was able to deliver this one in relatively decent shape. It’s another piece that would need to go into full restoration mode if you want her up and running. But, if you just want some vintage Coke machines for the collection, a thorough cleaning might do the trick for anybody interested in making it a display piece. Loves Coca-Cola!

Our inventory of Coca-Cola products has swelled over the last few months, and getting these vintage machines was the perfect cherry on top to cap off an amazing collection. The vending machines are definitely going to be something up the alley of your more serious Coca-Cola collectors. That doesn’t mean we don't have the perfect vintage Coca-Cola products just for you. Be sure to stop by where we have our entire Coca-Cola collection on display, and who knows, you may even be the one giving a home to one of these historic machines.

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