Tucson in 100 Objects: Nolen’s ‘mouse car’ was a truly singular idea

2014-05-23T00:00:00Z 2014-07-22T19:04:48Z Tucson in 100 Objects: Nolen’s ‘mouse car’ was a truly singular ideaBy Tom Beal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at: azstarnet.com/100objects

Before there was a “Love Bug,” there was a “mouse car.”

It was the invention of Truly Nolen, who mastered the notion of branding his business early in his career.

According to the company history of his pest-control company, Truly David Nolen did not have much money for advertising when he first moved a branch of the family business to Tucson in 1955, so he painted advertising all over his service vehicles.

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Then he began parking them strategically and adding antique vehicles to the mix.

In the 1960s, he added his now-famous “mouse cars” — yellow Volkswagen bugs outfitted with big ears and tails. The company also made mouse cars from a Fiat and the three-wheel BMW Isetta pictured here.

You’ll see those cars around Tucson because they are part of a working fleet. Nolen also affixed his name to a rotating fleet of strategically parked antique cars.

He lives in Florida today and, at age 86, reports to the office five days a week. He retains control of the sales and purchases of the antique cars.

By the way, there are now four generations of Nolens named Truly. Truly David Nolen also has a son named Really and a daughter named Sincere Leigh.

Contact reporter Tom Beal at tbeal@azstarnet.com or 573-4158.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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