Jan 31, 2008

Pedal Cars

  • It didn't require monthly payments, registration, or a license.
  • No one was offering cash back, trade-in allowances or 0% financing.
  • Keyless remotes, MP3 players, power windows, GPS tracking or Onstar weren't options
  • You were lucky if it came in more than one color
  • They were all convertibles

You didn't care about any of this because it was dependable, it didn't need gas,You could drive it as fast as you could get it to go and most importantly, it was yours.

The pedal car is one of those rare old toys that everyone can relate to. Moms, dads, grandparents and great grandparents may have a pedal car story. They've been sitting under the Christmas tree since the early 1900's.

In the 1920's and 30's they were a rich kids fad. Lord Fauntleroy could pedal around the estate and slam into the heels of the butler in a tiny Pierce Arrow or Rolls Royce. The cars were made with incredible craftsmanship which made sense since many of the companies were already experts in their field.

Peter Gendron had started his Iron Wheel Company in 1880 making wire rimmed wheels for baby buggies and other kid vehicles. Eusbius Garton started his vehicle toy business in 1879 and J.W. Murray had been making automotive fenders and other steel stamped car parts since 1910.

During WW II, when all the country's steel was used for the war effort, the pedal car had to take a few years off, but after the war and into the 50's, things were looking up again.

Just like Detroit, the pedal car industry had it's big three. From 1950 to 1975 Garton, Murray and AMF were the main producers of baby boommobiles.

Every department store catalog was a pedal pusher with 2 or 3 pages of vehicles. Kids could cruise the neighborhood in style in Garton's "Kiddilac" or patrol on Murray's 3 wheel "Radar Patrol". You could drive fire trucks, station wagons and dump trucks [with working dumper], or pilot speed boats, airplanes or even an "Atomic Missile".

Of course, it didn't really matter what you drove. Whether it was a rusted hand me down or a spanking new Mustang, the most important thing was a a free afternoon, a pack of candy smokes and nothin' but open sidewalk.

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