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You missed your chance to buy tra-la-la


Amphicat Banana Splits
Banana Splits TV show characters

Six wheel drive. Bulldozer steering levers, one for each side. Balloon tires to swallow jolts from rough terrain. Literally walks on water. And you could have bought one right here in the early 70s. So why didn’t you? Probably the unknown reliability or the killjoy gas crisis.

No matter. Tom Flanagan, owner of Tom’s Auto Body Company and also Burlington’s token Attex dealer, wasn’t in it for the money. “I attended a sportsmen’s show in Boston saw the Attex on display, and I wanted one. I found by opening a dealership I could get one for about half price. So I did, and secured a protected territory, three units to sell, a parts inventory and all the necessary stuff for the dealership. I used my body shop as the location.”

Attex Burlington MA
TABCO stands for Tom’s Auto Body Company

He once drove an Attex down Cambridge St. during a July 4th parade in the late 60s or early 70s. So how many did Flanagan sell to retail customers? Zero. “I wasn’t interested in selling them,” he says. “I just wanted a toy.” He sold the franchise and two of the units to Angelo Galinos, but kept one for himself, played with it for a few years in Maine, and then sold it. Galinos sold his two units for an MG sports car.

The end.

But, for a moment there, if you were really motivated and willing to pay a big markup over sticker price, maybe you could have owned a real “banana buggy” from the Banana Splits, a Saturday morning kids’ TV show better known for its opening sequence and “Tra-La-La” song than for any of the episodes. The show actually used an Amphicat, but it’s the same idea.

Here’s an Attex showing off its harmlessness. Harmed or not, this model looks like she can’t wait to get on the phone and fire her agent.

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 7.05.39 AM

They really were amphibious, too! You want something like this? Of the various 6×6 manufacturers in the 70s, only a couple are still in business. There’s an online forum for devotees.

5 thoughts on “You missed your chance to buy tra-la-la Leave a comment

  1. Attex! I remember those. I lived on a nearby street . Tom made one big mistake…he gave us kids a ride on one once. After that we would come by his shop and pester him for another when he was busy running the auto body business. I do remember being about 8 years old and the ride he gave us kids on the Attex!

    Speaking of the area where Edwards Road is now. The big house that is the VFW now was where the Peterson family lived. There were several junk cars behind the original Busa Liquors (where Burlington House of Pizza is now) including an old junked camper that was a converted school bus. Us kids would play in the camper and pretend to drive a bus until Angie from the liquor store would catch us and chase us away. He eventually boarded the old junk bus up and we could no longer get inside.

    Growing up in the 60s long before video games and social media, kids in the neighborhood would be playing outside all day in the summer. Yes we could be a little mischievous like playing in a junked bus and also bothering Oscar at Ducetts Hardware. We would look for empty soda bottles on the ground (Littering seemed to be more widespread back then) and bring them to Oscar to cash them in for the deposit money. After a day of that we could have collected enough to buy our own soda from the vending machine but coming back a several times a day was annoying to him.

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