Vince Crash Dummy Costume, 1990s

Vince Crash Dummy Costume, 1990s

Usage conditions apply
In the 1970s, few motorists wore seat belts because of apathy, distrust, or ignorance of the safety benefits. In 1985 the U. S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) partnered with the Ad Council to create television and radio public service announcements that would persuade motorists to buckle up. The Ad Council hired Leo Burnett, a talent company, which recommended the use of humor. Leo Burnett staff writer Jim Ferguson and art director / creative director Joel Machak created Vince and Larry, a pair of crash test dummy characters with personalities and attitudes. For the actual filming, Grant McCune, a special effects designer and a partner at Apogee Productions, worked with Apogee’s costume designer, Wanda Watkins, to create believable dummy costumes. Watkins purchased race car driver jumpsuits – gray for Vince, blue for Larry – and applied silkscreened safety tape and bulls-eyes that simulated camera targets. As a seasoned, veteran dummy, Vince (played by Tony Reitano) had a tire track on his costume because he was more battered than Larry. Watkins applied fuller’s earth to the costumes to make them appear dirty and distressed. When filming ended in 1998, the costumes were packed in portable crates that had been used for filming, and they were stored in a commercial warehouse in Los Angeles that specialized in sets and props for film and television productions. In 2010, NHTSA transferred the Vince and Larry collection to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
cotton (overall material)
overall: 59 in; 149.86 cm
waist: 34 1/2 in; 87.63 cm
leg inseam: 28 in; 71.12 cm
back center collar to waist: 19 3/4 in; 50.165 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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