The Vendo V-81’s and VMC-81 Soda Machines, Similarities & Differences
The Vendo Company eventually merged with its rival, the Vendorlator Manufacturing Company in 1956, but originally they were two separate entities building some very similar soda machines. In the mid 1950’s the Vendo Company was manufacturing the Vendo 81 exclusively for The Coca-Cola Company, and the Vendorlator Manufacturing Co. was making VMC-81’s for competing brands like Pepsi, 7-Up, Dr. Pepper and Royal Crown. Once the two companies merged, they continued to make machines under the two product names as before, making The Vendo Company the primary supplier to of the soft drink market.
There were three V-81 models manufactured by the Vendo Company from the mid to the late 1950’s. There was the Vendo V-81A, V-81B and V-81D. Up until 1956, Coca-Cola machines were painted a solid red, like the Vendo V-81A. Beginning in 1956 with the V-81B, The Coca-Cola company painted their machines red and white to emphasize Coke’s “clean and refreshing” image. The “Coca-Cola” logo that had been smaller and positioned closer to the bottle door was repositioned to be centered on the space to the right of the bottle door and the logo was enlarged. The logo was also made more prominent by being embossed in red on a white background, instead of in white on a red background.
The Vendorlator Manufacturing Company’s competing soda machine was the VMC 81. The Vendo 81 and the VMC-81 both held a total of 81 bottles for vending. Space inside the machine allowed for the pre-cooling of 17 additional bottles. Both machines had nine interior shelves, allowing them to vend up to nine different soda flavors. They used “slant shelves” that could be adjusted to accommodate different bottle sizes ranging from 6 ½ to 12 ounces. That flexibility makes these machines very popular today, since you are able to fill them with almost any soda, beer or wine coolers. These soda machines have the classic upright, “round-cornered” cabinet design of the 1950’s. Both the V-81A and V-81B are referred to as “small door” models, and the V-81D is called the “large door” model. This came about because the V-81D had a different coin mechanism that necessitated a larger door. The coin mechanism was redesigned to give change back, where previously the coin boxes only took nickels. The bottle doors in both the Vendo and VMC-81’s had lights placed within them to illuminate the bottles.
1958 was the last year of production for round-cornered soda machines made by The Vendo Company, with the exception of the Vendo 44. All of the Coca-Cola Company Vendo 81’s and the various brands of VMC-81’s are very collectible today. The Vendo 81’s are the most desirable of all the different models of Coke machines manufactured throughout the 1950’s. Fewer VMC-81’s were produced than Vendo 81’s, and of all the brands embossed on the VMC-81’s, Royal Crown soda machines are the most rare and collectible with the 7-Up machines close behind. Any of these soda machines would be quite a statement in any gameroom, den or office.
Dimensions: 53.75 in. high x 25 in. wide x 17.5 in. deep
Weight: 286 lbs.
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