Pedal cars, juvenile automobiles, play vehicles, wheel
goods, and kiddie cars - all are names that have been used to
describe a group of pedal powered toy vehicles that were ridden and
enjoyed by children, especially in the United
number of lucky individuals can remember having a pedal car as a
child or playing with one at a friend's house.
Car" usually refers to a child's toy vehicle with pedals, wheels,
tyres, axles, body and steering assembly. Pedal cars were
designed for heavy play outdoors.
geared for children two to six years of age, most of the early
examples were "kart" style cars made from discards such as old
crates, pallets and wagon wheels. Even an old dustbin or
washtub could be used as a makeshift body. Tin can headlights
made a good finishing touch.
It didn’t take long after the
rise of the automobile for kids to take to the sidewalks in cars of
In the 1890s the first pedal cars were
scratch-built from parts found around the barn, much like
As the car became a plaything of the
rich by the turn of the century, so too the pedal car became an
exquisite, commercially built toy. Sheet steel covered the car’s
wood frame, and full-size carriage lights, starting cranks, and
license plates furnished the trim.
Eventually pedal cars
became recognizable as certain makers, like Buick, Pierce-Arrow, and
prosperity of the 1950s brought a brand-new automobile to every
driveway in United States, and the newly affordable, all-metal pedal
car became the baby boom generation’s first set of wheels at the
Through the 1954 Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog,
you could buy a chain-drive Garton Kidillac Deluxe with
battery-powered head- and tail-lights for $36.95, or a
pedal-and-rod-drive Champion sports car from Murray Ohio for $11.98.
Pedal cars were such an icon of popular culture that they
were widely featured in advertising. The Garton Kidillac was even
given away as a premium to buyers of new Cadillacs.
declining birth rate, high inflation, and the plastic Marx Big Wheel
tricycle all arrived in the early 1970s, and pedal cars were never
Murray Ohio stopped making pedal cars altogether
and began manufacturing the newly popular power lawn mower. The
introduction of Rubbermaid’s incredibly durable, all-plastic Little
Tikes Cozy Coupe in 1979 (still in production) sealed the fate of
the all-metal, old-style pedal car.
“When you see a metal
pedal car today,” notes Petersen director Gross, “it reminds you of
the craftsmanship we’ve lost.”
(many thanks for the above extracts from
Pedalcar.net & Pedal Car Restoration and Price Guide by Andrew
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