News-Antique.com - Aug 16,2010 - These miniature lords of the sidewalk grew up right alongside “big” automobiles. And if you couldn’t have a real car, this kid’s size mobile was the next best thing. Pedal cars showed up in backyards as early as 1890. They were expensive even then and usually purchased by wealthy families for their children.
Pedal cars were constructed of steel on an assembly line just like the big cars. They were modeled after the most popular full-size cars. They were also designed by the same big-name designers.
Harley Earl was General Motor's top designer. He was famous for the fins on his Cadillacs. He also designed the Kidillacs. Brooks Stevens, who streamlined real automobiles also made the smooth curves of many pedal cars.
With the 1950s post-war boom, things changed for these pint-sized beauties. People could now afford to buy real cars and their kids got the pedal car versions. They were also more affordable. Pedal trucks, cars, tractors, fire trucks, planes could be spotted on sidewalks and in backyards all over mid-America.
On April 16-17, Bertoia Auctions, Vineland, N.J., featured a selection of vintage pedal cars in its Donald Kaufman Collection auction. Kaufman was an American toy collector with an estimated 7,000 toys in his collection including 40 pedal and oversized pressed-steel cars. He died in 2009.
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