Pedal cars were first built in the 1890s and modeled after the cars that were seen on the road. Since their appearance they have been very popular and in the 1920s their popularity soared. Due to their cost, and that many people were suffering from The Great Depression, only the wealthy could afford the pedal cars. The less fortunate played on home made versions.
During the 1940s no pedal cars were produced due the need of metal for the World War II effort. It was not until the 1950s and 1960s that the pedal car made a come back but, unlike before, those pedal cars were chain driven and available in most major stores. Because the pedal car was designed after automobiles they could be found in many different models and were equipped with movable windshield's, rag tops and working lights and horns. They also had white wall tires, custom paint jobs, chrome detailing and even hood ornaments.
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As the manufactures realized the large market for these pedal cars, they began to produce many other versions of the pedal toy. They made trucks, trains, tricycles and even die cast models for those who favored that type of vehicle. Adults and children alike have always loved the pedal car and even though the originals were probably first bought for children, adults soon began collecting them.
Pedal cars are a very durable toy and some have out lasted the years, making them very valuable and sought after. The very few remaining original pedal cars show the amazing care and workman ship that went into making these toys. According to Pedal Car Planet, original pedal cars can run up to the following:
In the 1960s and 1970s new safety restrictions were placed on toys and the growing popularity of using plastics instead of metal became favorable. The end of the metal pedal car began almost as quickly as it started. The plastic versions were nowhere near as popular as the original metal pedal cars and soon the original pedal car became a sought after collectable.