Pedal Cars - History
Children’s steel toy pedal cars have been around for nearly as long as those with real horsepower. First modelled on the automobiles of the time, their shape and style has changed over the years to reflect current car manufacturing trends. And while they have come in and out of fashion, there has always been a big demand (and yearning) by children all over the globe for a steel toy pedal car.
A global history
- The first steel toy pedal cars appeared in the 19th century, around 1890.
- For several decades, they were expensive to produce, so were the domain of wealthy families only.
- Production of the toy cars ceased during the war, when metal was kept solely for the war effort. They had a resurgence in popularity during the 1950s, when production resumed. - Pedal car manufacturers then extended their repertoire into other kids’ toys, including pedal planes, trucks, trains and tricycles.
- In the 1970s, the plastic car arrived, and metal cars were usurped
- for a while at least. Thanks to a new demand, not only by children, but also by adults looking for collectibles, steel toy pedal cars are still popular today.
Just as there are Australian car manufacturers, there are Australian pedal car manufacturers. The first Australian pedal toy cars were produced by Cyclops in 1917. They were made of pine, and featured sheet metal cladding, and spoked wheels with rubber tyres. By the 1920s, Cyclops was producing a wide range of toy pedal cars and wagons.
Today, original steel pedal cars from early last century can fetch thousands of dollars at auction. Popular examples include the 1922 Model T Ford, 1949 Comet, 1955 Chevrolet and 1960 Giordani Racer.
Pedal cars have changed in style over the years as automotive design has progressed. While the cars all have movable pedals, other features vary from working lights, horns and chrome detailing, to working windshields, and even custom paint jobs.
Just as wooden toys have remained steadfastly popular over the years, steel toy pedal cars are beloved by children everywhere, and quite a few adults too!