Sputnik Signs (page 1)

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Neo-Lectra signs look like giant toy jacks. Their six metal spikes were outlined with neon and mounted on a square central element. These sputnik or star-like sign add-ons measure 13 feet across. They were designed and manufactured in the 1960s by Jim Henry of Oklahoma Neon located in Tulsa, OK. The Standard Neon Supply Company distributed the signs. They advertised these as the Neo-Lectra model with "scintillating" flashing action. These signs did not rotate. There may have been 100 or so of these made but I believe there are only nine left. Jim Henry also designed the pinwheel-shaped, smaller Neo-Lectra Jr. model which is shown below. The Neo-Lectra and Neo-Lectra Jr. sold for about $1,000 when they were sold in the 1960s. Standard Neon also marketed C-152 Lectras. For more, see this website.

Dixie Liquor [gone]
Dyersburg, TN
Walli's Restaurant [gone]
Burton, MI
Dixie Liquor restored their Neo-Lectra a few times. However, it was a frequent target for rock-throwing vandals so they stopped repairing it. These photos are from 2007. The sign was destroyed by a tornado in 2011.

The Walli's Restaurant sign had two Neo-Lectras on top. This photo is from 2009. Sometime after 2010, the neon was removed from the sign panel. Later, a new plastic sign panel was installed reading "Walli's Banquet Center" which was lit with spotlights. Walli's had at least four restaurants in the Flint, MI area. This location closed in 2019 but the Neo-Lectras remained until 2022. They are now in a private collection. One of the locations had a Roto-Sphere which was later moved to the Dort Mall and then sold to a collector.

Guero's Auto Sales [gone]
Austin, TX
2008: 2018:
The former Guero's Auto Sales used car lot also had a Neo-Lectra. I don't know if this sign was always associated with used cars or if there was another business there originally. By 2015, the business had become Valet Motorcars. In 2018, there was a sign reading Oasis Cars but the lot was closed and empty. In 2019, the Neo-Lectra was removed. I have no idea where it went.

Ranch House Cafe
Vaughn, NM
Wenatchee, WA
Blackwell Liquor
Atkins, AR
The long-abandoned Ranch House Cafe has another surviving Neo-Lectra. For more, see this website. [map]

Sav-Mart has been here since the 1960s. I suspect this sign had two Neo-Lectras originally with one on each pole. [map]

The Blackwell Liquor sign was built by C&C Sign & Neon, Inc. I don't know if it was built in the 1950s or if it's from the 1960s and was built with the Neo-Lectra on top. [map]

Grigg's Motel
Richmond, KY
Tops Home Center [gone]
Elkhart, IN
The Grigg's Motel has a Neo-Lectra and a neon sign. The Neo-Lectra is missing one of its arms. [map]

The Neo-Lectra in Elkhart was installed on top of the sign that once advertised for Tops Home Center, a mobile home sales business. It was still there in 2013 but gone by 2017.

Century Motorcycles
San Pedro, CA
2008: 2013: 2014: 2023:
Century Motorcycles opened here in 1962. This Neo-Lectra was installed in 1963 or soon after that. In 2008, the sign was in bad shape. It appeared that the plastic panels had been blown out in a storm. There were attachments indicating that the sign originally had neon. By 2013, the sign had been refurbished with new paint and plastic panels. Later in 2013, the Neo-Lectra was accented with LED strips. It flashed red, green and blue at night. By 2021, the sign had neon tubing again. For more, see this video. [map]

Dakota Fireworks
Huron, SD
Brown Boys
Yakima, WA
The Dakota Fireworks Neo-Lectra had additional spikes added at some point. This sign has been there since at least 2008. [map]

The Brown Boys Neo-Lectra is partially lit at night. The flasher works on four of the six arms. This sign was installed two miles south of here in the 1980s when it advertised for Al Frank's used cars. By 2022, the text panel had plastic letters. The Neo-Lectra still has neon. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Willert's Tastee Treet Drive-in
Yankton, SD
This Neo-Lectra was originally installed at Kip's Inn in 1962. It is 96" from tip to tip. The advertisements for these signs describe them as 156" across. Therefore, there may have been two sizes sold. In 1982, Kip's Inn was sold and it reopened as the King Dragon restaurant. Sometime after 2011, the Neo-Lectra was removed and stored behind the building. In 2018, Mark Bierle, a former Yankton resident, discovered the sign there and purchased it. In 2019, after a fundraising effort, he had the sign restored in Norfolk, NE. He arranged to have it displayed at the Willert's Tastee Treet Drive-in. This location opened in 1950 as part of a Tastee Treet franchise. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, and 3. [map]

Oak Park Theatre
Minot, ND
Bridge City Cleaners
Bridge City, TX
The Oak Park Theatre opened in 1961 and this Neo-Lectra was installed then. It was restored by IndigoSignworks in 2017. [map]

The Bridge City Cleaners Sputnik has stumpier arms than the Neo-Lectras shown above. I don't know if it was produced by the same company. Bridge City Cleaners was closed in 2011. By 2016, the building was housing Elizabeth's Hidden Treasures. In 2018, that business had moved and the building was vacant again. [map]

More Neo-Lectras:
Sinbad Motel (Miami, FL) [gone]
Cafe/Ice Cream (Riverton, KS) [vintage; gone]
Roxy's Drive-in: 1, 2 (Benton Harbor, MI) [gone]
Skyline Neon (Minneapolis, MN)
Dickman's Wayfarer Inn (Rolla, MO) [gone]
Baricev's Restaurant (Biloxi, MS) [gone]
28-70 Food Mart (Lexington, NC) [gone]
Chieftain Motel (Ogallala, NE) [vintage; gone]
Milner Western Motel (Santa Rosa, NM) [vintage; gone]
Motel Shawford (Santa Rosa, NM) [vintage; gone]
Boots Drive-in (Tulsa, OK) [vintage; gone]
Rainbow Motel (New London, WI) [vintage; gone]

Neo-Lectra Jr. signs were designed and built by Jim Henry of Oklahoma Neon located in Tulsa, OK. They were marketed by Standard Neon. At eight feet wide, these signs were smaller than Neo-Lectras. The arms were outlined with neon. They revolved but did not flash. It is believed that only a handful of these were made. For more, see this website.

Hockomock Plaza
West Bridgewater, MA
Goose's Liquor
Worland, WY
Hitchin' Post
Cafe [gone]
Welch, OK
The Hockomock Plaza Neo-Lectra Jr. had not revolved since at least 2001. It was restored in 2018 and is now spinning again. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

The Goose's Liquor sign is topped with a Neo-Lectra, Jr. The star is a bit crunched and the neon is missing. For more, see this website. [map]

The Hitchin' Post Cafe sign might have been topped with a Neo-Lectra Jr. However, the arms look skinnier and there was a light at the very center that was not original. By 2022, the sign was gone and the building was housing a cannabis store.

Lyn's Cafe [gone]
Tulare, CA
Lyn's Cafe was known as the El Charrito Restaurant when these photos were taken in 2008. By 2013, the restaurant was known as T-Bones Ranch House and the sign was gone. I don't know if the two Neo Lectra Jr. signs were saved. For more, see this website.

Star-like and sputnik style signs were all the rage all over the country in the 1960s. As shown below, there was endless variation in the lengths of arms and numbers of arms. Most of them did not have neon and were simply eye-catching sign-toppers.

Service Tire
Sherman Oaks, CA
Garni Food Market
Tujunga, CA
Johnson Roofing
Robinson, TX
Lone Star
Motor Company [gone]
El Paso, TX
This Service Tire sputnik is apparently vintage but is a recent addition to the plastic box sign. When the sign advertised for the previous tenant in 2011, Al & Ed's Auto Sound, the sputnik was not there. [map]

The Garni Food Market sputnik appears to be the same style as the one at Service Tire. [map]

These sputniks are installed on top of rooftop steeples at Johnson Roofing. They have been there since at least 2007 and may have been installed in the 1960s. [map]

This sputnik sign in El Paso stood on the lot of the Lone Star Motor Company building. It looked identical to the one at the Montana Motel (see below). It was still there in 2013 but gone by 2015.

Montana Motel
El Paso, TX
2008: 2017:
The Montana Motel sputnik doesn't look like it ever rotated. The sign was repainted and updated with new panels by 2011. There was another sputnik like this at Viva Chevrolet (1, 2) in El Paso. [map]

Cascade Car Wash
El Paso, TX
2008: 2017:
The Cascade Car Wash sputnik sign is similar to those above but has smaller and fatter arms. It was repainted around 2014. There is also a mid-century modern building here. [map]

Gourmet Dinner House
San Bernardino, CA
2008: 2013: 2017:
The Gourmet Dinner House sign is topped with a Sputnik like those in the row shown above. It was probably built in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The sign was repainted shortly after the 2008 photos above were taken. In 2013, the restaurant appeared to be closed. The building was still vacant in 2017. In 2021, the building was destroyed by a fire. The lot is now empty but the sign remains. [map]

Premiere Lanes [gone]
Santa Fe Springs, CA
Valley Relics Museum
Van Nuys, CA
The Premiere Lanes sign was designed by Wayne E. Heath. It was installed in 1959 when the bowling alley opened. The sign features eight Sputnik additions. The bowling alley closed in 2008 and its contents were auctioned off. The building was demolished in 2010. In 2013, the sign was donated to the Valley Relics Museum. In 2016, the sign was finally removed. The text part of the sign and several of the sputniks are on display at the museum. There are no plans to reassemble the sign and install it one poles like it was originally.

Alvarado Palms Motel
Los Angeles, CA
Gardena Towers Inn
Gardena, CA
The Alvarado Palms Motel was built in 1959. This sign appears to be from then. The neon is lit at night. For more, see this website. [map]

The Gardena Towers Inn was built in 1958. This sign-topping sputnik might be from then or slightly later. [map]

Vogue Theatre
Los Angeles, CA
Rick's Automotive
Los Angeles, CA
The Vogue Theatre was designed by S. Charles Lee and opened in 1935. It was remodeled in 1959. This sputnik sign is probably from then. It was definitely there by 1965. Since 2009, the theatre has been known as the Supperclub and features live performances. For more, see this page. [map]

The Ricks Automotive sign-topper is very similar to the Vogue Theatre and the Park 'N Jet below. I don't know if this one ever had neon. [map]

Park 'N Jet
Salt Lake City, UT
Celebrity Lanes
Denver, CO
Fabricare Services
Grand Junction, CO
The Park 'N Jet sign appears to be from the 1960s. [map]

The Celebrity Lanes opened in 1960 in Glendale, CO. In 1962, it became the Celebrity Sports Center. Around 1979, it became the Celebrity Fun Center. It closed in 1994 and was demolished in 1995. The sign was also demolished but at least one of the three spinning sputniks was rescued from a junkyard. It has been displayed on the roof of the Lumber Baron Inn in Denver since 2010. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Fabricare Services, a dry cleaners and laundry service, is gone. In 2011, this sign was adapted and repainted. The neon cars on the long sign panel were removed. These photos are from 2012. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

City of Cars [gone]
Orlando, FL
Double A Motel
Fremont, OH
Atomic Signs [gone]
Farmington, NM
The City of Cars sign might have been inspired by the Roto-Sphere design. This style sign featured a greater number of spikes. These spikes were also fatter and edged with neon. There were originally two of these rotating signs at this car lot. I believe this design was called a Moravian Star but I don't know how many were produced. This is the only one I have ever seen. It stood on this vacant lot for many years until 2008 when a new car dealership was built. I believe this sign was demolished. For more, see this website.

The Double A Motel sign's metal spikes are each tipped with a light bulb. Management has found it impractical to replace them due to the sign's height. [map]

The Atomic Signs sign was probably built in the 1960s. The "ATOMIC SIGNS" part of the sign was originally neon panels. The business closed and the sign was removed in 2016. For more, see this website.

Sputnik Signs
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