STILL remember the pedal car you had as a kid?

Don’t you wish you’d kept it?

A good one these days can fetch more money than you’d thought possible, judging by the collection of 53 pedal cars at the recent RM Sotheby’s Pedal Power auction.

It raised almost $150,000 — and we’re talking US dollars here.

 The US dollar is 1.44 Australian at the moment, so get out your calculator and wince as the numbers come up.

We all know about classic car collectors, but pedal-car collectors?

Well, they certainly exist and they literally swarmed this online-only auction, resulting in some shall we say surprising figures for the brightly coloured miniature cars.

Mind you, the cars were all immaculate, impeccably maintained or restored, and many were owned by the fastidious genre expert and restorer Bruce Callis, who lives somewhere in Trump country.

Sotheby’s say 85 percent of the lots sold for more than their pre-sale estimate as buyers from various parts of the globe bid for the cars. 

Top price of US $9900 (that’s damn near $13K in our cash) was for a 1955 Austin J40 Roadster.

These cars have a lot of sentimental value, especially in the UK.

They were built by Welsh coal miners affected by black-lung disease.

Laid off from work, these guys built the pedal cars from scrap metal left over from the production lines of the real full-size Austin A40. 

They were beautifully constructed and featured in the high end of pedal-power world, having real headlights lights and an opening bonnet showing a pretend engine, complete with a quartet of spark plugs.

The boot also opened, revealing a spare wheel.

It sold for more than a brand new Mitsubishi Mirage ES in Australia. Yes, one with a real engine — and a five-year warranty.

Okay.

Aside from the craftsmanship, these J40s are still active in motorsports in the UK.

One of the most popular events at the inimitable Goodwood Revival is always the Settrington Cup, where each year a field of youngsters in spec J40 pedal cars race down the Goodwood Circuit’s front straight (apart from this year because of the coronavirus) . 

So they’re clearly in high demand and if you want to start your youngster’s career in motor racing, you can’t find a better, or cheaper, class in which to compete.

Then there was the lovely 1941 Lincoln-Zephyr, which fetched $8700 ($12,500) after some fierce bidding by 65 would-be buyers.

A 1940 Ford went for $2220, a 1935 Chevrolet for $4080, a 1935 Pontiac for $3330 and a delightful Chrysler Airflow for $6660.

That’s all in US dollars.

Go check the back of the garage and the shed.

You never know, you might find some restorable nostalgic gem.

 

CHECKOUT: Baby Bugatti seeks ‘Baby’ driver, no experience required

CHECKOUT: Has anyone seen my pedal car?

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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