1956 1957 1959 Tonka Holsum Bread Private Label Metro Van

Tonka manufacturedHolsum Logo its first Holsum metro van in late 1955 or early 1956. The van was painted bright reddish orange with several very colorful decals. The wheel covers are the round hole design. At this time, it's unknown what the decal on the rear doors looked like. Sometimes a Tonka logo decal was affixed to the bottom of the van. Additionally, not all private label vans had Tonka logo decals on the bottom, nor did all regular production. Holsum metro vans were sold in Holsum outlet stores in Florida and some were given to employees as well.

Metro #1 below was manufactured in 1957 and is original and unretouched. The story goes that this 1957 version, with the silver painted grille, was designed specifically for select Holsum bread van drivers as some type of award.

In keeping with good materials management, Tonka used available good stock to minimize excess inventory. In this case, Tonka used the white Model #24 Rescue Squad metro, over-painted it Holsum's reddish orange and added the correct graphics. The metro does appear to be sort of cobbled together with metal plugs (actually metro headlights) filling the holes where the siren was mounted on the nose and where the flasher was located on the roof.

The grille area is painted silver. A very unique touch. Also visible are the round hole wheel covers Lloyd Laumann mentioned in his article that "should" be on the 1957 Holsum metro. Photos of this metro on file but not presented here, show the underside painted white with white and reddish orange over-spray on the interior.

A significant difference between this Holsum metro and featured metro #2, is the decal on the lower portion of the rear doors. Metro #2 has a loaf of bread as part of the graphic design. Metro #1 has a dinner roll box.

This 1957 variation of the Holsum metro is documented in a 1996 article written, with a supporting photo, by Barb DeSalle for American Toy Collector magazine.

Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

1957 Holsum Bakery Metro #1



Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

1957 Holsum Bakery Metro #1
Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

1957 Holsum Bakery Metro #1

Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

1957 Holsum Bakery Metro #1


Value: The Holsum metro #1 just above, failed to meet the seller's reserve of $6500 USD and did not sell on eBay, April 2007

Value: The metro was relisted and sold for $3500 USD in early May 2007

Value: The metro was relisted by the same seller. It was bid to $2024 USD but did not meet the seller's reserve in late May 2007.

Value: It was relisted again by the same seller and sold on eBay for $2020 USD in early June 2007.

Value: A 1957 Holsum metro, in excellent original condition, silver painted grille, missing the side door handle (no big deal), minimal paint loss, no box, sold on eBay for $1084 in early August 2014. NOTE: After reviewing the auction listing images against the images of Metro #1, without doubt, these are two different metro vans.

Value: A 1957 Holsum metro, in good, original condition, missing 2 wheel covers, 1 rear door, 2 rear door handles, 1 side door and its handle, (all available in reproduction), steps crushed, paint loss all over with oxidation, no box, sold on eBay for $280 in late March 2015.


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Holsum metro #2 featured below, was manufactured in 1959. Please note this metro van has wheel covers with triangle holes that were new to Tonka trucks in 1959. According to the original owner's family, the metro van, as photographed, is as it was received in 1960.

Tonka Private Holsum Metro Van

1959 Holsum Bakery Metro #2



Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

1959 Holsum Bakery Metro #2
Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

1959 Holsum Bakery Metro #2

Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

1959 Holsum Bakery Metro #2
If the Metro shell had already been painted white, generally the entire outside shell; top and bottom, front to back; was over-painted Holsum's reddish orange. There are examples, however, of the bottom of the Holsum Metro being left white.

Tonka didn't come close to applying the same quality standard when painting the inside of metros. Whatever over-spray that happened to land on the inside surfaces was deemed sufficient. Note the surface rust just past the embossed aluminum step.

Metro #2 featured above and to the left, sold on eBay for $2855 USD in October 2006.

The last model #24 Rescue Squad metro was manufactured in 1957. One could reasonably argue that metro van shells available for production after 1957, would NOT have the hole in the nose and in the roof. If a Holsum metro manufactured after 1957 shows up with plugs, I'll post it here.

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Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

Featured above are two original and untouched Holsum vans purchased by Billy Porter from the original owner's family. The original owner was given the vans to commemorate his 30 years with Holsum in 1960. He received two vans, one for each of his daughters. According to the original owners family, the vans actually got some play time before being tucked away for a number of years. Since this picture was taken, Mr. Porter privately sold the Holsum metro on the left. He also sold the Holsum metro on the right on eBay and happens to be Metro #2 featured above. Both vans have the triangular holes in the wheel covers as is typical of specific 1959 Tonka trucks.

Read this article written by author and Tonka historian Lloyd Laumann in the April 1990 issue of Toy Trucker & Contractor magazine.

This presentation of the Holsum metro van has undergone several changes over the years as more information has come to light. I appreciate the input from Tonka enthusiasts Richard Gresh, Bill Porter and others. Please continue to contribute your knowledge to insure accurate information is presented. Contact me via the email link in the menu.


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Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

1959 Holsum Bakery Metro Variation
Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

1959 Holsum Bakery Metro Variation

The 1959 Holsum Metro featured above sold on eBay for $3250 USD in late December 2012. Note the extra "100" decal on the passenger's side front.


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Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

1959 Holsum Bakery Metro shows lots of rust
Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

Sold on eBay for $720 in late May 2014
Tonka Private Label Holsum Metro Van

An owner clear coated the entire metro


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