Automotive designers spurred by Japanese car builders have dramatically changed the art of metal forming into the pleasing aerodynamic cars we see today. Similarly the art and science of metal forming for containers has been taken to a new level by J. L. Clark Co. (Rockford IL). Its demonstration is also automotive. The product is a promotional tin for Valvoline® Oil Co. Lexington KY a unit of Ashland Oil. The two-piece tin is the brainchild of Rod Taylor of the Optimum Group (Cincinnati OH) a sales promotion company working for Valvoline. Optimum was developing a collector card promotion based on a "100 Years of Racing" theme and it wanted a souvenir container to deliver the cards in a memorable way. The idea was to create a tin card container modeled on the Valvoline NASCAR race car of driver Mark Martin. The tin and cards are available to consumers for $12.95 with the purchase of a case of motor oil or an oil change using Valvoline. Taylor's idea to create a car collectible tin excited Valvoline's marketing people-but not the container makers he contacted. "All the tin manufacturers we approached turned us down saying that what we wanted was impossible" Taylor recalls. Until J. L. Clark was contacted. Unusual shapes and distortion printing of metal sheet is not terribly new. However to achieve what Optimum/Valvoline expected was well beyond what had been done before. "Normally you form the body seam on the bottom and stamp out the lid and curl the edges" says Roy Robinson vice president of marketing at Clark. For this car-can there are nine separate forming molds. Clark got together with partners Gerhard Designing and Mfg. (Burbank IL) and Widen Colorgraphics (Madison WI) last fall recognizing that Valvoline needed samples for the start of the racing season in March. "Without the commitment from Widen and Gerhard we couldn't have achieved this" points out Ron Moreau Clark president. "From the outset we had to break through some technology barriers that have hampered the promotional can market and the stamping of metal parts. This isn't even close to traditional tool making or can forming."