Antique Toy Pedal Cars: Identification, Dating & Value Guide

We all loved playing with pedal cars as kids, right? Some of us got new ones, while others loved the old ones from their grandpa! And if you were from the latter group, you are in luck! That’s because these old cars fetch millions for their solid, rare finishes.

But how do you know if your car has those unique features? And even if you see them, how do you know their value? Well, guesswork won’t work here, but you have Antiques Know How to save you! Today, I’ll help you price all your pedal car features rightly! So, let’s begin!

Key Takeaways

  • Antique pedal cars with hand-painted walls, tires, and hoods are old and expensive. You can also check if they have a European or Asian make to hike their value.
  • Get hardwood, iron, or steel toy pedal cars for an old make. Also, check if they have lacquered or oxidized paint.
  • You can spot old, handmade pedal cars by their grinding marks, wax joints, and abstract fire truck or carriage shapes.
  • You’ll get three types of old pedal cars – Sad Face, Three-wheeled, and Tot Rod. Of these, the sad-face ones are the most precious!

How Can You Tell If Your Pedal Car Is Old & Antique?

Antique Toy Pedal Car

Leave your old pedal car against the wall and go get a tape! Now, measure the distance between the car’s bonnet and rear wheel. Is it roughly 20 – 35 inches? Also, check if the height is 19 – 20 inches. If yes, it’s an old pedal car costing $3000!

But if your car’s rear wheels are missing, look for the following features:

  • Custom-paint walls with white wall tires and chrome details
  • Hook back bonnets and trunks with attachable trailers, hood ornaments, and rag tops
  • Arched windshields and pedals with cast-iron chains and gears
  • Wooden or upholstered car seats with hand-grinding marks and rivets

How Did Antique Toy Pedal Cars Evolve?

Pedal cars are not that old! Like, the makers made the first pedal car in the 1890s! Until then, they used old sleds! And the first pedal car obviously looked like one too! It had wood log seats with screwed metal tires. But these were really noisy and difficult to move.

So, makers improved their designs in the 1900s. First, they used sheet steel for the walls and rubber for the tires. Next, they added crank axles and walled seats for more safety. But, they were very costly, and the demand was less. So, these pieces are rare today!

The post world-war cars are functional! So, you’ll see all the batteries, horns, headlights, and windshields with them. They will also have machine-finished enamel paints and branded car designs. But, these won’t have any ornamentation or hand touch. So, they will be cheaper!

3 Types of Antique Toy Pedal Cars & Their Value Guide

Not all vintage pedal cars have two pedals and seats! Some also have unique shapes, mechanisms, and features, as the three types below:

1. Old Sad Face Pedal Car

Old Sad Face Pedal Car

Sad Face pedal cars are just like mini fire vans. Like, most of them have exposed motors, ladders, and v-bonnets. They are rectangular and can take in 1 – 2 riders easily. You’ll also find steel pedals, rails, and bumpers costing $1500. Plus, they have enameled walls and seats!

2. Vintage Three-Wheeled Pedal Car

If your car looks more like a kid’s tricycle with a single front wheel and two rear wheels, it’s a three-wheeled pedal car. These cars are like bikes, with rod handles, ball-bearing wheels, and chain drive vents. So, they are new and cheap, costing about $300 – 400 for one.

3. Old Tot Rod Pedal Cars

You might have seen sleek, compact cars in Formula 1 races. Well, old tot rod cars look the same but have open cage and drop-wedge designs. You can even see inbuilt exhaust pipes, hoods, and hubcaps with these. So, they are a bit costly, at $600 – 700 for one.

8 Factors to Identify & Value an Antique Pedal Car

Did you learn your vintage pedal car’s type and base value from the list above? If yes, let’s check these eight detailed factors to learn its exact resale price!

1. Antique Pedal Car’s Date & Age

Old Pedal Car

As I said earlier, pedal cars are relatively new! So, it’s only the early or era-specific pedal cars that earn good value. For instance, if you want rare, fancy pieces, you can get the ‘pre-war’ era cars. Or, you can get the ‘post-war’ ones if you want them functional!

But how do you track the date of your pedal car? Well, I have some easy clues for help!

How Do You Check If Your Pedal Car Is from the Early 1900s?

See if your vintage pedal car has carved wood or metal walls and bumpers. If yes, it’s an early 1900s (1890 – 1930s) pedal car. You can also look for cold steel trailers and beaten finishes to spot these. Also, look for old screws and fabric staples on the seats!

Next, check their paints! If they have brushed, hand-painted walls, your piece costs $2000 – 3000. But if it’s nickel plated, the value goes down to $1500.

How Do the Post-War (1940s – 1950s) Pedal Cars Look?

Look for sleek, futuristic designs and aluminum walls to spot these! You’ll also find some functional features like working lights, horns, and axles. Most of them also have polished duo-chain drives and solid rubber tires. So, they cost more at $700 – 1200 for one!

How Do You Spot Modern Pedal Cars from the 1960s?

Most modern pedal cars are machine-made. So, they either look like vintage cars or racing ones. Most of them are shaped in molds. So, they also have stamped patent numbers on their trunk. Plus, they will have some thin chrome accents and plastic parts, valuing $300.

Now, here are some patent numbers to value all your fancy pedal cars!

YearAgePatent NumberAverage Valuation
1923100 yearsUS1541490A$400 – 600
1970s53 yearsUS4084836A$300 – 350
1960s63 yearsUS3403927A$300 – 400

Get pedal cars with a heavy gauge steel body, rear platforms, and grip handles for an old make.

2. Vintage Pedal Car Materials

Vintage Pedal Car Materials

Now, you might have seen the usual steel pedal cars at your antique shop. But dig more, and see if you get the wood or iron ones. Why? Because these have an old make and hike the cost by 5 – 6%. In contrast, the zinc or plastic ones are a big no for good returns!

Here’s how much you’ll earn for each antique pedal car material:

Old Pedal Car Wall Materials Average Valuation
Hard Wood – Oak, Walnut & Mahogany$2000 – 2500
Moderately Hard Wood – Elm, Maple, Burl$1400 – 1600
Cast or Alloyed Iron$1200 – 1500
Stainless Steel, Carbide Steel, or Galvanized Steel$700 – 800
Zinc or Aluminum$300 – 400
Plastic or Fiber$120 – 150

Get vintage pedal cars with hammered or lapped surface finishes for more returns.

3. Old Pedal Car Paint Finishes

Old Pedal Car Paint Finishes

Wet your finger and rub it along the pedal car’s bonnet. Does it feel soft and greasy? If yes, you might have a wax or oil-finished pedal car. If it feels grainy, you might have a pigmented finish. But if you see regular brush strokes, you must have a hand-painted pedal car!

Next, check its texture. If it looks coarse and glossy, it’s an oil-based alkyd paint. But if it looks even and matte, you might have the normal acrylic ones.

And here’s the exact value of each paint finish for help:

Old Pedal Car Paint FinishesAverage Valuation
Lacquer – Oil, Shellac, Wax, or Paraffin$20 – 30
Iron oxide or Oxidized Pigments$15 – 20
Oil-based Paints – Enamel or Alkyd Paints$10 – 12
Water-based Paints – Acrylic or Latex$5 – 6
Air Powder Spray & Guns$4 – 5
Galvanized or Anodised Metal$1 – 2

Always look for distinctive wear patterns and flaky paint to spot the antique ones.

4. Antique Pedal Car Brands

Antique Pedal Car Brands

Want a shortcut to identify and value your old pedal cars? Just rotate them and see if they have any logos on the surface. If yes, it’s a branded car! And now, you can just browse through the brand’s website to know the exact resale cost!

But that’s not all! You can also get windshields, driving gears, and car jacks with a branded pedal car. And if you find them, you can hike the cost by 4 – 5%. Other than that, you’ll also see heavy steel bodies, ball-bearing wheels, and motors!

Here’s a list of some high-value, easy-to-collect vintage pedal car brands:

Old Pedal Car NameManufacturerAntique Pedal Car ShapeAverage Valuation
Investment Grade Circa 1917 – 1922 Pedal CarGendronAirplane or Aerodrome$27,500
Atomic Missile Pedal CarMurrayAirplane$2800
Packard Pedal CarSteelcraftJeep Pedal Car$7000 – 8000
National Sad Face Pedal CarAmerican NationalFire Truck$12,500 – 13,000
Tooth Grille Pedal CarGarton KidillacMustang or Car-like$3200 – 4000
Flintstones Pedal CarAMFCar-like$1000 – 1200
Pedal Race CarEurekaBugatti$13,000 – 14,000

Avoid getting pedal cars with broken or misplaced parts, as they might lose their value by 10 – 15%.

5. Old Pedal Car Construction

If you want old, high-value toy cars, get the hand-filled or joint ones. And you can spot these by their tight seams, screws, and grinding marks. In contrast, you won’t get more than $100 if you see loose seams and welding. That’s because those are new and common.

6. Antique Pedal Car Colors

Antique Pedal Car Colors

You’ll get pedal cars in three colors – oxidized, painted, and galvanized. Of these, the oxidized black and brown ones cost $700 – 1000. Next are the painted red, blue, or yellow cars, costing $400 – 600. But the galvanized gray ones are cheap, only around $100.

Rusty gray cars might look brown with time. So, rinse the surface and verify its colors before purchase.

7. Antique Pedal Car Styles

Antique Pedal Car Styles

Surprisingly, antique pedal car makers were all around the globe. So each had some regional influences and designs on their surfaces. For example, the French ones were minimal and polished, whereas those from Australia were like farm sheds.

And today, I’ll tell you the costs of different pedal cars as per the place of manufacture:

Old Pedal Car StylesRough Pricing
European or French$2000 – 2500
Russian or Soviet$1500 – 1700
Britain & United Kingdom$1700 – 2000
Asian & Australian$1500 – 1700

8. Vintage Pedal Car Shape

You’ll easily get the regular auto or jeep-like pedal cars at any antique shop! But ask your dealer if he has some carriage or fire truck models as well. That’s because these have a rare, foreign make and abstract mechanism. Plus, most come with trailers and carts too!

Want to know the value of unique pedal car shapes? Just scroll below!

Old Pedal Car Unique ShapesRough Pricing
Firetrucks or Mini models of Branded Cars$10,000 – 12,000
Horsedrawn Carriages, Pony or US Airforce Tank Shape$3000 – 4000
Pedestrian Cycle Carriage or Aerodrome$700 – 1200
Tractor Trailer & Cart$400 – 500
Duck, Tricycle & Railway Engine$200 – 300

When Did They Stop Making Vintage Pedal Cars?

Makers stopped making vintage pedal pars during the 1940s war. So, all the pre-war pieces are handmade, rare, and cost up to $7000. In contrast, the post-war pieces are machine-made, valuing $200 – 300.

How Do You Clean Antique Pedal Cars?

You can clean antique pedal cars by rinsing them with soap, water, and vinegar. And you also use steel wool, bleach, or rubbing alcohol to remove all the rust!

Which Is the World’s Most Expensive Pedal Car?

A 1970s, green-colored Plymouth Super Bird series model is the world’s most expensive pedal car, costing $59,000. That’s because it has painted cartoons, oxidized accessories, and windshields.

Antique pedal cars are always loved by one and all! That’s because they have all those rare motifs, bumpers, and handmade finishes. So, if you have a vintage-looking pedal car, you can check its age and brand from the table above! Then, just add the values for the price!

What other toys would you like us to identify? Antique Marbles? Antique Teddy bears? Well, we already have the details of each!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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