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How a car made in Buffalo inspired the 'Playboy' name

The name of Playboy magazine and the Playboy clubs once owned by the late Hugh Hefner had a Buffalo connection.

It's explained inside the Buffalo Transportation/Pierce-Arrow Museum, where a white, 1947 Playboy roadster is displayed with information panels that include a photo of the dashing car in front of the then-named Albright Art Gallery.

Hefner planned to name his men's magazine "Stag Party," but was forced to come up with another name after Stag magazine threatened to sue. Eldon Sellers, who helped start the magazine, said his mother worked for the short-lived Playboy Motor Car Corp. in Buffalo, and suggested "Playboy."

The Playboy, a convertible with a folding steel top and spare tire in the rear, was billed as "the nation's new-car sensation," priced at $985. But only 97 were produced over two years before the company went bankrupt.

"Some people might have considered that an omen, but I didn't," Hefner wrote in Playboy upon its 40th anniversary. "I liked the name and said so immediately. [A colleague] worried that it might conjure up images of the Roaring Twenties, but that was precisely why it appealed to me, suggesting the fun and high living that I wanted to convey in the magazine."

Hefner died Wednesday at the age of 91.

[Photo gallery of the 1947 Playboy car at the Pierce-Arrow Museum]



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