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Pedal Car collectors

Broadcast date : 13th August 2006

They say that the only difference between boys and men are the size of their toys. Well, it seems that doesn’t always hold true. Worldwide interest in pedal cars is on the increase, despite, or perhaps as an antidote, to computerized games.

These little machines were invented almost as soon as the motorcar itself came into being, and many of us grew up trundling around the backyard, crashing into brick walls and bird baths.

The foremost collector of pedal cars in South Africa today is Pieter van den Berg, whose collection numbers over a hundred of the miniature marvels. It began in 1990, and he fully admits to being obsessed by these real-life, three-dimensional toys.

Recently companies in America have begun mass-producing replicas of pre-and post-war pedal cars, which in many cases bear strong resemblance’s to actual production cars of the period.

Yet the joy of pedal car collecting for Pieter is that they don’t look exactly like scale models of real-sized cars.

He says that they’re caricatures of cars, but three-dimensional caricatures, unlike smaller one-eighteenth scale models which are identical to the real thing.

This green beauty was based on a 1941 Chrysler, but manufactured by the Steelcraft corporation in Ohio in 1946.

Cars like this can be worth a small fortune today.

Pieter’s oldest car, and believed to be the oldest in the country, is this 1915 Lines-Brothers car, built in plywood. 

It has real leaf springs, much like the cars of the day, and steel-spoked wheels. It even had real details like opening doors.
His second prized possession is the yellow Bull-nose Morris, a 1925 model, also built by Lines-Brothers.

This British firm comprised three brothers, and as three lines joined together make a triangle, they formed the famous Triang pedal car company in later years.

The American firms built pedal cars made of sophisticated pressed steel, and were able to mass-produce these children’s toys at much cheaper prices.
Hands up if you recognised the un-restored car as a Mustang. But with a coat of paint, all the trim items and just a little knowledge of classic cars, there’s no mistaking the make of that car.

Back in 1965 dad went into the showroom and emerged with two cars, one for him – or his wife – and one for Junior.

This Austin pedal car was actually built by the Austin company in 1948 as part of a Post War apprentice training programme to provide much-needed employment.

This example was restored by Seun van Rooyen, who kindled his son Andre’s interest in the hobby.
Andre, who imports American V8 engines, was so fired up he began importing new replicas for sale. 

This 1932 Ford Hi-Boy pedal car sells for around R3 000 at his Montgomery Park garage.

Not a cheap toy, but compared to a computer game, so much more imaginative!
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