Click here to return to OCC homepage


See Homepage. This page: A look at some of the classic pedal cars, including the Austin J40 and those by Tri-ang (Lines Bros).
Old pedal cars
Wanted: Old pedal racing car, 1950s or earlier please. Contact details on this page, thanks.

Classic pedal cars.

(And other children's ride-in cars).

Austin J40 pedal car
Children of all ages have scribbled the words "pedal" and "car" onto their Christmas wish-list since the year dot, or at least since full-sized cars began to appear regularly on the roads of Britain. What could be more exciting to a young lad (or young lady) than to be sat behind the wheel of their very own pedal car, guiding it swiftly around the living room, knocking vases and small animals out of the way without a care in the world? It certainly sounds good fun to me, and I remember alternating between a blue Tri-ang pedal tractor at the local playgroup, and a red example back at home. Unlike bicycles, pedal cars are quite tricky to fall from, so just as soon as your legs were long enough to reach the pedals, many lads like me were giving their parents some earache, until a pedalcar-shaped object appeared wrapped beneath the Christmas tree, or on your Birthday morning, tyres inflated, and ready for action.
Whereas little girls tend to grow up, little boys rarely do, and just because you develop hairy legs and a deeper voice, it doesn't automatically mean that you lose interest in the pedal-powered wonders of yesteryear, just because you no longer fit in them. Magic words such as Tri-ang, J40, Pathfinder and Murray may well still resonate and create similar levels of excitement as they did when you were knee-high to a grasshopper. These are probably the same "grown-ups" to whom other familiar names such as Lego, Hornby and Scalextric still appeal. Childhood memories of these little cars, usually a first introduction to the joys of being behind the wheel, often lead to people developing an interest in collecting old pedal cars that they either remember driving in their youth, or wished they had but never managed it for whatever reason. Personally I'm interested in classic pedal cars that pre-date me, perhaps because in the 1970s pedal cars were beginning to be built using plastic rather than razor-sharp steel, and somehow I've never warmed to anything made out of plastic where metal was previously the norm.
The idea in this section of the site is to look at some of the great pedalcars of the classic and vintage eras. Old toy cars are already well covered on the site, so it seemed high time that the larger, pedal-powered, toy cars got equal coverage.
Of particular interest are original photographs showing pedal cars, pedal tractors, pedal aircraft and other similar children's playthings. If you've any old photos of pedal toys, and are willing to share them with other pedal car enthusiasts, please email them over and I'll include them in this section of OCC. Perhaps my favourite is the Austin Pathfinder pedal car, which was based on a pre-war single seat racing Austin and made for a couple of years only, alongside the more common J40. If anyone has period Pathfinder photos, or indeed a complete example, and would like to see it in this section please drop me a line.
If you have an old pedal car, and would like to send over some photos of it for inclusion here, by all means get in touch! I hope to feature some surviving pedal cars here soon, including a few of the 'restoration projects' I've got by makers such as Tri-ang (Lines Brothers) and Murray in the USA.

Other forms of powered child's car.

In addition to pedal-propelled toy cars, this section will also look at other ride-on vehicles that were designed for children. This will include fairground rides, and cars propelled by methods other than pedalling.
A couple of examples are shown in the righthand column. One is the Cheetah Cub. This fibreglass-bodied creation was powered by a 75cc Villiers petrol engine, clad with a body echoing that of Jaguar's legendary D-Type sports/racing cars of the 1950s. The other is a wonderful, as-yet-unidentified, vintage car powered by compressed air.

Pedal-powered fun!

Various old pedal cars will appear in this section as it grows, so for the timebeing, some old images and material relating to these great little cars. Firstly, a period image showing the Austin Pathfinder. This was inspired by a single seater Austin racer of the 1930s and built for only a short time, by workers at a purpose-built factory in Wales.
More numerous than the Pathfinder though is the Austin "JOY 40", or J40, inspired by the contemporary A40 Devon saloon when it was first introduced in 1950. It continued in production until 1971. The earliest J40s differ slightly from later examples, primarily because the earlier cars were built from a heavier gauge of steel, and also incorporated a Flying A on the bonnet, later deleted due to worries about children impaling themselves on it. As well as being a heavy car to pedal, it was noticeably larger than many other similar toys, leading to many spending their years stored away in leaky sheds outside, rather than cossetted indoors. As a result, many examples simply rotted away. However, the J40's lengthy production run mean that a good number survive to this day, in conditions ranging from immaculate, through to the more play-worn and battered cars.
Related pages:

Austin Pathfinder.

Austin Pathfinder pedal racing car
Austin Pathfinder goes on sale, Selfridges, London, 1949.

Cheetah Cub.

Cheetah Cub Jaguar D-Type
The fibreglass "Cheetah Cub" petrol-engined Jaguar D-Type.

Compressed air car.

Compressed air car from the 1920s
1920s child's car powered by compressed air.

Tri-ang (Lines Brothers).

1930s Tri-ang pedal cars listed
List of Tri-ang cars supplied by Brown Bros in 1939.
A 1930s pedal car by Tri-ang Lines Brothers

Pedal car photos.

As original photos of pedal cars turn up, I'll add them in here. To start things off is this great image shown on the right. Des included this shot with some other photos he sent over. It shows his father behind the wheel of a vintage pedal car, on the beach at Bognor Regis. The fluted bonnet and the shape of the radiator confirm that it was based loosely on a Vauxhall tourer of the era, possibly the 30/98, and date this toy car to the mid-1920s. Other pedal-powered machines can be seen in the background - I doubt the salty sea water would have done any of them any favours, but what a cracking picture - thanks Des!
A Vauxhall pedal car of the 1920s

A studio shot in Blackpool, showing two lads, one on a trike, the other in a (Tri-ang?) pedal car.

The lad in the photo was called Arthur, and was aged 2 yrs when this was taken in June 1946.

Two children seen here in a two seater pedal car, complete with lamps and hooter.

This angular little pedal car looks to be from the 1930s - homebuilt perhaps?

The hubcaps look Tri-ang to me, the car is based on a Willys Jeep of the 1940s.

A young lad sits in his pedal Jeep, along with his puppy. Circa 1947?

A great vintage pedal racing car in use, rare, but made by who? Also see row 5 photo #7.

Two kids with their pre-war pedal car, possibly taken in America during the 1930s.

An expensive ride-on car now, complete with lamps, bumpers & detailed radiator.

Roger, from the site forum, provided these photos of him driving a Tri-ang No.6 racing car.

Thanks also to Brian from the forum, this is him sat in a Tri-ang pedal car as a child. Great photos!
Austin J40 pedal car
Next, two Austin J40 pedal cars, the first with two children in a J40 at Blackpool. Fairground ride?
Another J40 pedalcar
A young lad seen driving a J40 around a test route, at an unidentified seaside location.
Tri-ang pedal car
Kevin kindly sent this photo, of him driving a red Tri-ang Ford Zephyr in the late 50s.
Home-made pedal car
Second photo from Kevin, with him on a (homemade?) pedal car ride in Skegness.
Tri-ang pedal racing car
Martyn, sat with his Tri-ang pedal racing car, and other classic rides, circa 1970.
Pre-war pedal car
Can anyone identify the make of Tom's pedal car, seen here circa 1959/1960?
Triang pedal car
Another fabulous Tri-ang pedal car, in the style of a 1930's Grand Prix car.
Tricycle and pedal lorry by Lines Brothers
Steve kindly sent this next pair, both feature twins in a pedal lorry & trike. Thanks Steve!
Tricycle and pedal lorry by Lines Brothers
He thinks the lorry is a Lines Bros. (Tri-ang) Tip Lorry No.5 of 1928 - 1938.
Girl sat in a Tri-ang pedal car
Thanks to Sarah for this photo of her Aunt Patricia, sat in a vintage Tri-ang pedal car.
Tri-ang Ford Zephyr
Ellis kindly supplied these two images of him sat in his miniature Ford Zephyr.
Colour photo of the pedal-powered Zephyr
A great colour shot of the Tri-ang Ford Zephyr in use - note the period road sign behind.
Tri-ang Epoch pedal car
David kindly sent this photo over of him sat in a 1930s Triang Epoch pedal car in 1953.
Tri-ang No.6 racing car
Thanks to George for the next two photos, showing his pale cream Tri-ang No.6 racer.
Tri-ang pedal racing car
The seat was red, George is shown here driving the car with his younger cousin watching.
Pedal car based on the Bluebird land speed record car
Studio photo of "Blue Bird" LSR based pedal car, Blackpool, 1935. Thanks to Don.
Child sat in his prized machine
Kindly sent over by Charles, a snap of a youngster sat in his prized Tri-ang (?) toy.
Push / pedal car
Can anyone help Louise id this vintage push-along / pedal car dating to c1916-1918?
1940s example
Thanks to Chris, of, for agreeing to his old photo being shared here.
Boy sat in a Tri-ang car
First of two photos of (I think) the same boy. What is the circular device under his elbow - a siren? LBL 4242.
Two cars
Same boy but in a Tri-ang Ford Zephyr, with a girl alongside in the later type. Circular gadget removed?
Girl being pushed
Girl being pushed by her mother in an earlier Tri-ang, maybe 1940s era.
Leeway pedal car
Richard sent this over, of himself sat in a pre-war Leeway pedal car, c1952. Thanks!
Toy racing car
Thanks to David, a photo of him & his siblings in Sussex c1952. Second example of this unknown pedal car to feature, see row 1 photo #7, and next row.
Pedal racer in 1950
Third example of this rare racer. Thanks to Pete for the photo, taken 1950.
Pedal car in the West Indies
And another, as "No.1", photo'd in the West Indies - thanks Marius.
British pedal car in 1929
Thanks to Nick on FB, a photo from his great aunt showing her father, Great Yarmouth, 1929, based on bullnose Morris? Tri-ang?
Lines Brothers pedal car in 1952/1953
Thanks to Graham for this photo of him on a pedal car (Lines Brothers / Tri-ang) in 1952/1953, which model is it?
1930s Tri-ang pedal car
Fabulously-shiny old pedal car, probably a Tri-ang again from the 1930s.
Tri-ang Meteor
A 1950s Tri-ang Meteor in what appears to be a regularly hot country, ie not the UK.
Edwardian pedal car
Thanks to Mike for this original photo of a superb Edwardian-era example. Made by?
1940s pedal car
Bob Taylor and his younger brothers with a Lines Brothers car in the late 1940s. Thanks!

Pedal car action on Youtube.

In 2020 our son put together a couple of stop-motion animations using old pedal cars, the first runs for around 2.5 minutes or so, and the second for just under 4 minutes. They can be viewed below.

Who manufactured this pedal car?

An appeal for help now. I'd be interested to find out more about the pedal car shown below, in un-restored and well-played-with condition. The French firm Eureka has been suggested as a likely candidate. They produced a number of different children's cars, some based loosely on Bugatti sports-cars of the 1930s. A book I have on toy cars shows a car with similar front end panels, but with a separate bucket seat and no hint of rear bodywork aft of the scuttle. Obviously the car shown below has seen repairs at some point in the distant past to its rear end, but the door area looks original, as does the seat and elements of the rear, despite its condition.
The book mentions that a date should be present on the front axle (something I've yet to look for), and that several "Bugattis" were produced by Eureka, the one they feature being the cheapest in the range. It has a chrome-plated grille, whereas the one shown below looks to have always been painted. The bonnet seems to be removable also, whereas the car in the book looks to have a fixed, one-piece, job. Can anyone point me to photographs and/or reference to an example with the style of bodywork seen here?
Eureka pedal car ?
Rear view

Custom Search
Old Classic Car (C) R. Jones 2023. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.
Website by ableweb.
Privacy Policy, Cookies & Disclaimers