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Homepage. This page: Children's ride-on cars by Tri-ang, as advertised in a 1939 catalogue.
Old cars for children

Tri-ang pedal cars of the late 1930s.

Many of the most collected pedal cars of byegone times, are those that were built in the 1930s. And prolific within the pedal car market in those days was Tri-ang, the label under which the Lines Brothers company marketed their extensive range of toys and, of course, pedal-propelled children's cars. Their range of pedal cars was truly impressive, many of which were scaled-down versions of cars that perhaps a child's parents might own themselves. The appeal to a child of owning a pint-sized version of their parents' real car is obvious, and the company was keen to exploit the opportunity.
Buried within a copy of the Brown Brothers bicycle catalogue of 1939, is a section specifically describing the many pedal cars they had on sale. Neither Tri-ang nor Lines Brothers are mentioned within the pedal cars' descriptions, but the illustrations clearly show products of the Lines Bros' factory. Preceding the main section within the 624 page catalogue, are illustrations of pedal trikes and a lone drawing of a lorry, which may also have been pedal powered and does actually mention the manufacturer by name. The "Commercial Lorry", as shown below, had an all-steel body and chassis. An adjustable windscreen and two direction indicators featured, as did a plated radiator. It measured 53.5 inches in length.
Tri-ang all-steel pedal lorry

Lines Brothers pedal cars for 1939.

The following pedal cars were offered within the 1939 catalogue, and I'm sure several of them had already been on sale for several years prior to 1939. A close look at front registration plates, where visible, on occasion show the two letters "LB" - Lines Brothers, visible also on the toy lorry above. All the toy cars formed the "Rambler" Series, presumably a series unique to this supplier in particular, rather than LB/Tri-ang pedal cars retailed everywhere.

Daimler pedal car.

This pedal car - with its prominent Daimler radiator grille - featured a pressed steel body, and had an opening side door, balloon disc wheels, rubber tyres, magna hubcaps, adjustable windscreen, lamps, and miniature petrol and oil cans. To suit children aged 2 to 5 years, it was labelled the "Vindec" Improved Model Car.
  Daimler pedal car

Bentley pedal car.

This rakish machine had a Bentley-eque radiator grille up front, and a low-slung body, also with an opening side door.
  Bentley pedal car

Tourer.

Car number three had a smart plated radiator surround and some very nice detailing.
  Car no.3

Bentley.

Here's another Bentley-inspired car, this one more of a road rather than race example.
  Bentley road car

Road car.

Another smart road car look-a-like, with pedal drive and plated radiator surround.
  Another 1930s pedal car

Vauxhall.

A cracking Vauxhall-inspired pedal car now, note the distinctive bonnet flutes as you'd have found on contemporary road cars. It also has spoked wheels and "jointless cushion tyres".
  Pre-war Vauxhall pedal car

Another Daimler pedal car.

A second Daimler, with fuller wings and larger folded "hood" than the previous example. This was a noticeably plusher version, with a back axle including ball-bearings, a padded back-rest, chrome bumper and lamps, with like those already mentioned, small versions of the Shell fuel and oil cans. Very smart.
  Daimler pedal car

Ford inspired?

No mention of a real car is given with this car's description, although there are shades of Ford evident in that grille shape. This example also has a luggage locker apparently.
  1930s Tri-ang car

Another 1930's Vauxhall.

This is a real bobby dazzler, again based on a pre-war Vauxhall complete with dummy lamps, chrome bumper and hubcaps, adjustable screen and so on.
  Vauxhall pedal car from 1939

Ford?

Very similar to the Ford-a-like a couple of cars previously, although this one has spoke rather than pressed steel wheels.
  Possibly a Ford?

A rakish sporting car.

Over 3 GBP was required to buy this next, very eye-catching, pedal car. It had, amongst other features, a plated rad surround, both dummy and electric lamps, an adjustable upholstered seat, streamlined mudguards, spoke wheels, a shaped adjustable screen, and a hand-brake.
  A sporty pedal car

Another sporty job.

Features found on one car often re-appear on another catalogued model, as this example demonstrates with its mix of dummy lamps, screen, bonnet adornments, and bumper.
  Another car

Chrysler Airflow.

Although no specific car is referred to in this car's description, its clearly inspired by the then-fashionable streamlined cars that a number of full-size car manufacturers were producing in the late 1930s - including Chrysler, with their Airflow, and Singer's slightly odd-looking Airstream model.
  Chrysler Airflow pedal car

Streamlined aluminium car.

An aluminium streamlined body, spoked wheels, front and rear bumpers, and fared-in electric lighting were offered with this 41"-long car.
  Made from aluminium

Another expensive example.

Prices are creeping up as the catalogued cars get introduced. This one cost over 5 GBP. However it did incorporate a separate tubular chassis, sprung rear axle, larger (plated) spoke wheels, tubular bumpers front and rear, a "stop and go" sign, plus an electric horn plus other delights.
  Complete with tubular chassis and bumpers

Another "Airflow" example.

The larger spoked wheels in conjunction with the "Airflow" type bodywork, feature here, as do electric lamps and horn.
  Airflow pedal car with working lights

Daimler sports.

Wow, any child lucky enough to be given this wonderful Daimler-inspired car would have been the envy of many. Interestingly this fully-loaded pedal car (large wheels, spring-mounted front axle, lamps, handbrake, Klakker horn etc) came with two sets of pedals as standard, along with nickel-plated brightwork.
  Daimler sports pedal car with nickel fittings

Wooden Vauxhall car.

The final car listed in the 1939 catalogue has a much simpler illustration, which makes me wonder if it's an earlier model than those already listed. At over 5 GBP it's one of the pricer models though. Unlike the pressed steel types, this car - echoing Vauxhall styling of the time - had a wooden body mounted onto a tubular chassis, with sprung axles at both ends. Two sets of pedals again feature, as did "racing" mudguards. A second version, with 12.5" x 2.25" Dunlop balloon tyres and chrome rather than nickel fittings, had a list price of over 8 GBP.
  Vauxhall pedal car made from wood and steel
All versions are highly collected nowadays, with the more expensive models being especially sought-after. Many would have had short lives, either due to over-enthusiastic early owners, and no doubt many were destroyed during the war that was but a few months away.
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