Toy pedal cars were popular among children in the mid-1990s, but today they are considered collectibles, as there are many other toys that are considered “more fun.”
If you are a collector or a vintage enthusiast, this guide will assist you in vintage pedal car identification, getting vintage pedal car values, and also serve as a vintage pedal car guide. Now, let us explore the world of vintage pedal cars.
The Evolution of Toy Pedal Cars
Before we delve into identifying and estimating the value of vintage pedal cars, we must first examine their history and determine why they are now considered antiques.
Toy pedal cars, as the name implies, are toy cars that require you to pedal them like a bicycle in order for them to move. Some are designed for adults while others are designed for children. Adult-sized pedal cars are typically used in sporting events (racing).
The Innovation of Pedal Cars
The pedal cars were the earliest eco-friendly vehicles constructed, as they did not operate mechanically and required manual pedaling to move. They were first built in the 1890s.
As soon as pedal cars were introduced in the 1890s, every child in the country wanted one, but only the wealthy could afford them.
Working-class families attempted to make wooden pedal cars for their children, but they fell short in terms of quality and shape. Then came the 20th century, particularly the 1920s and the 1930s.
The Pre-War Pedal Car Era
In the 1920s and 1930s, toy pedal cars were marketed exclusively to upper-class children, or “rich kids,” and no one could blame them because they were the only ones that could afford it at the time.
Go-karts (the sister of pedal cars) were also manufactured in the 1920s, and like toy pedal cars, they were designed with the wealthy as the target audience. Pedal cars were manufactured continuously until the mid-1940s, when World War II began.
The Post-War Pedal Car Era
The production of toy pedal cars was halted during World War II. Metallic materials that could have been used to make pedal cars were instead used to make war resources, and let’s be honest, nobody was thinking about toys and toy cars during the war.
However, after the war, large companies resumed production of these pedal toys. The end of the war saw a massive increase in development, which had a significant impact on pedal toys, as they were now modeled to look exactly like cars.
By the mid-1960s, toy pedal cars had nearly every external working part of a real car, including paint details, windshields, tires, horns, lights, and almost everything else except the engine. And it didn’t end there. They even started producing the cars in models.
Having the cars produced in various models further fueled the rave about toy pedal cars. Imagine you as a kid pedaling about in a toy Mustang in 1965. When you show it off to your friends, they will want one too. At the time, every child desired a toy pedal car.
When manufacturers realized that people couldn’t get enough of pedal cars, they began to diversify and produce other items such as toy pedal planes, toy pedal trains, and so on.
The advancement in the 1960s brought such vehicular diversity that it affected the pedal car industry, and every vehicle produced during that era had its own toy pedal car.
The End of the Pedal Car Era
All good things must come to an end, as the saying goes, and the era of toy pedal cars came to an end. It came to an end as a result of an experiment, the plastic experiment.
Plastics and toy safety regulations were first introduced in the late 1960s and early 1970s, forcing manufacturers to adjust and begin producing pedal cars with plastic.
It enjoyed initial success, as expected, but the use of metals and steel gradually faded, and pedal cars were now mostly made of plastic. Also, the use of plastic made them more affordable and accessible, so they were mass-produced and available to everyone.
Pedal cars lost their initial appeal as they became more common. People began to see them for what they were originally intended to be, toys rather than adult automobiles. Thus, the era of toy pedal cars came to an end.
Although the toy pedal era has passed, some people still enjoy owning toy pedal cars today. Some people collect them to give to their children or for other reasons, while others collect them because they are vintage enthusiasts.
Popular Vintage Pedal Car Manufacturers
Still on the history of pedal cars. Manufacturers of toy pedal cars had the foresight to anticipate future trends. These manufacturers helped pedal cars become a global phenomenon.
One of the very first manufacturers of toy pedal cars was Whitney Reed. Whitney Reed’s pedal car is not the type you are likely to be familiar with. They made wooden horses that moved when you pedaled them. The legs of the wooden horses were joined.
At the time, pedal cars were popular throughout Europe, and the likes of Bon Marché manufactured and sold them. The Bon Marché cars were inspired by the Grand Prix Peugeots.
After the war, another toy company picked up where Marché left off. Eureka not only produced pedal cars that resembled Peugeots, but also designs such as the Renault and the Citroen Rosalie.
Sears was another popular vintage pedal car manufacturer. In 1933, Sears, an American company, released its first Christmas wish book catalog, which included pedal cars.
Although they couldn’t send them to customers who lived far away because mailing steel cars was nearly impossible at the time, they still satisfied customers across the country by sending them to those who lived near rail tracks.
American National Automobiles of Toledo and Steelcraft of Murray followed. Both of those businesses were based in Ohio and were owned by Americans.
The American National Automobiles was well-known for producing vehicles such as the Ford, Chevrolet, Pontiac, and the Skippy Airflow Chrysler.
Steelcraft of Murray, on the other hand, was famous for manufacturing toy pedal cars such as the GMC pedal truck, Mack dump trucks, Model T Roadsters, Dodge Runabouts, and Chrysler Roadster.
Six Popular Antique Toy Pedal Car Models
We’ve been discussing toy pedal cars, and while we may have highlighted one or two models along the way, we haven’t emphasized on the pedal car models produced around the time. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones;
● The Gendron Packard Pedal Car
The Gendron Packard was modeled after the 1930s edition of the car. The cars were beautiful, and while they came in a variety of colors, red and burgundy particularly made the cars shine.
● The 1941 Alfa Romeo Alfetta
The Alfa Romeo pedal car was one of the most popular pedal cars back in the day, and like the majority of pedal cars made, it was modeled after the Alfa Romeo Alfetta vehicles made at the time.
There are many copies of the toy pedal, just like there are copies of Alfa Romeos. Buying one is difficult and usually costly. Even if you see one, the owner might not want to sell it, so if you want to collect this kind of pedal car, you have to work harder
● The 1930 Sad Faced Fire Engine
The Sad Faced Fire Engine pedal car has a gloomy appearance, befitting its name. It is another popular toy pedal car. But just like the Alfa Romeo, it is also quite rare to find. So, if you find this toy pedal car, make sure to keep it safe.
● The 1948 Comet Pedal Car
The 1948 Comet pedal car was first produced in 1948. Copies, however, have been made over time. This original vintage car is also difficult to find. As a result, you’ll have to make do with the copy. You can expect any of the copies you see to look like the car they were modeled after.
● The 1922 Model T Ford Pedal Car
The 1922 Model Ford T pedal car was like many other pedal cars modeled after the 1922 Model Ford. This car was painted in a silver and red color that was particularly popular at the time.
Just like a classic car screams wealth in today’s world, so was the pedal car valued then, and it is still valued today.
● The 1965 Ford Mustang Pedal Car
Even if you’re not a car enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of the 1965 Ford Mustang, either in a movie or in passing. This model is probably the most popular toy pedal car today, just as the car is an antique and very popular.
Identifying a Vintage Toy Pedal Car
As we previously stated, classic pedal cars mimic the designs of the original vintage automobiles. So then, why do we still want to give tips on vintage toy pedal car identification?
The truth is that many clones are still available today. Although the said cars were modeled after cars made at the time, there are still pedal cars made today that are copies of vintage pedal cars (though not as popular as they were then).
As a collector, you should know how to identify a vintage pedal car. If you don’t, check out the following points:
The first indicator of whether or not the vintage pedal car in your possession is the materials used in its construction. Cast iron was used in the production of vintage pedal cars. The cars were well detailed and mostly hand-finished.
Cast iron may also be used to create these replicas, but the feel is different. Due to the use of casting sand, vintage pedal cars have finer details than their modern replicas, which have a rougher texture.
Pedal Car Dimensions
Another factor to consider when identifying vintage pedal cars is the car dimensions. However, you must first determine the original pedal car dimensions.
Find out the original pedal car measurement by going to the manufacturer’s website or simply doing a Google search, and then compare it to what you have.
The pedal car measurements remove the uncertainty that comes with having a copy. Due to deformation, copies of pedal cars are rarely at the original dimensions. So, if you measure, you can be certain of getting authentic vintage.
The Paint Job
Your vintage pedal car can also be identified in part by its paint job. Vintage pedal cars were likely painted with oil-based enamel paints, whereas copies were usually painted with water-based acrylic paints.Note that the paint was applied in a different manner.
While air-powered spray guns are likely to have been used in the replicas of vintage pedal cars, the authentic vintage pedal cars were either dipped into the paint with a paintbrush and touched up, or they were simply painted with a series of paint brushes.
The Exterior of Unpainted Pedal Cars
Some old pedal cars are painted, but some are left untouched. And, like copies of vintage pedal cars are made, so are these. Therefore, you must distinguish between the unpainted vintage pedal cars and the unpainted copies.
To do so, simply examine the color of the unpainted pedal car. It is most likely a replica pedal car if it has a gray or dirty silver tint. If, on the other hand, the cast iron used is dark brown or black in color, it is most likely vintage.
The tricky part about people making these replicas is that they can change the shade so that it looks dark brown or black. They can do this by soaking it in a chemical mixture, so be cautious when dealing with unpainted pedal cars.
Antiques, in general, are hand finished, either because the equipment used today was not available at the time, or because manufacturers had not yet adopted its use.
Hand-finished antiques have a better and more precise finish than copies, and vintage toy pedal cars are no exception. Copies (typically assembled and finished with automated mechanical equipment) have loose finishing and marks.
The copies are bound to be marked as the automated equipment continues to grind on them. Some might be covered, but ultimately, you should see at least a couple.
Restoring a Vintage Toy Pedal Car
Having an authentic vintage toy pedal that you can’t sell because of damage or wear and tear can be frustrating, whether you already have one or just bought one. But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the steps involved in restoring your vintage toy pedal car.
However, before you begin the restoration process, take detailed photographs of the original version of the car you want to restore. It will aid in recalling specifics once the process begins.
Step 1- Select the Car
The obvious first step will be to choose the first vehicle to be restored. The car should pique your interest, and you should make certain that it is the authentic vintage pedal car you want to restore. You do not want to waste time and effort on a duplicate of the original.
Step 2- Disassemble the Car
To rebuild, you must first dismantle. Dismantling the car piece by piece will help you determine which parts are damaged and which are not. Regardless of the damage, you should keep every part of the dismantled car. This step is usually not difficult, so you should be able to complete it quickly.
Step 3- Repair or replace any damaged body parts
This goes without saying, but if you damage any body parts while disassembling the pedal car, you can always purchase replacements online (at eBay or Amazon) or at your local store. You should use the image or the damaged body part as a guide to what you want to buy online.
Step 4- Get Rid of Rust and Old Paint
After the broken parts have been fixed or replaced, the next step is to remove the rust. The pedal car is old, so it makes sense that some of its parts would rust over time. Old paints can be annoying too, so you want to get them out of the way.
Chemical rust-eating agents can remove rust, or, depending on the degree of rust, you can sand the less rusted areas. You will, however, need to use a sandblaster on the body or major car parts to do a thorough job.
Step 5- Apply a Rust-Protective Coating
After you’ve stripped the pedal car of rust and old paint, you’ll want to protect the body parts from rust in the future. The procedure is known as powder coating.
It is usually a time-consuming and difficult process, but you can do the minor exterior parts yourself and hire a professional to help with the major interior parts.
Step 6- Painting
Repainting should follow the application of a rust-protective layer to the exposed parts. You can repaint yourself with spray cans, rent a spray booth, or hire a professional painter. Hiring a professional is your best option. You are guaranteed quality this way.
Step 7- Reassemble the Parts
Remember the detailed pictures we advised you to take earlier on? This is where they can help. After fixing the broken parts of the toy pedal car and painting them again, you will want to put them back together perfectly. These pictures will help.
Valuing and Selling a Vintage Toy Pedal Car
Vintage pedal car values vary and are influenced by a variety of factors. First is the condition of the vintage pedal car, but if you recently restored yours, this should not be an issue, you will be able to find a good market value for it.
The second condition is the rarity of vintage automobiles. The more rare they are, the more expensive they are likely to be.
So, if you come across a very rare vintage pedal car, especially one with an identified manufacturer, it may be more expensive than the rest.
The final factor is age. The date they are produced or manufactured usually tells a lot about their value. The more valuable they are likely to be as they age.
To determine the age, examine the materials used and look for manufacturer markings on the pedal cars. They will most likely direct you to the time period in which they were created.
To value your vintage toy pedal car, you need to do the following:
- Compare your pedal car to those that have recently sold. Check that they are of similar size and build. Check the condition as well; this will give you an idea of the price.
- Now that you’ve got an idea, you should adjust the price of your pedal car to match the online prices you found. You can charge a higher price for your vintage pedal car if it is in better condition, type, build, or edition, and vice versa.
- Put your car up for auction or for sale on eBay. You could also sell it on Etsy.
Price Guide for Vintage Pedal Cars
To give you an idea of the going rate for various vintage pedal cars, we have compiled a list of recently sold cars, which is presented in the table below.
Name of Listing
Price Sold ($)
Link to Listing
Vintage Heavy-Duty Pedal Tractor
August 18, 2022
1920s Retro Roadster Pedal Car
August 18, 2022
German pre war toy pedal car
August 18, 2022
Vintage Mustang Pedal Car
August 19, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a pedal car called?
A quadricycle, also known as a quad cycle, a pedal car, or a four-wheeled bicycle, is a type of pedal car.
2. What is a Model T?
The Model T was the first mass-produced automobile. It is said to be the automobile that put the world on wheels. It was first introduced to the public in 1908.
3. What is the World’s Oldest Toy?
The stick is the world’s oldest toy. Not only do human kids play with sticks, but so do animals and even adults.
If you are a collector, one of the most important skills you can have is the ability to identify and value vintage items. If you are interested in buying or selling vintage toy pedal cars, you absolutely need to know how to value them.
We sincerely hope that this price guide will be of assistance to you in recognizing and appraising the value of your collection of vintage pedal cars. If you have any questions and/or suggestions, please leave them in the comments section.