The 10 Best Pedal Cars

Updated July 12, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

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We spent 37 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Generations of children have enjoyed pedal cars, and the mini vehicles still remain wildly popular. Each of the models on our list is designed with fun in mind, but also with safety features parents will appreciate. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they are also among the few toys these days that encourage your child to get out into the fresh air and get some exercise. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best pedal car on Amazon.

10. Morgan Cycle Retro Red

9. Peg Perego John Deere 522

8. InStep Street Rod PC600

7. Dexton Pink Roadster Deluxe

6. InStep Fire Truck PC300

5. Hauck Batmobile Go Kart

4. Kettler Cat Backhoe Loader

3. Hauck Nerf Battle Racer Ride On

2. Hauck Lightning Go-Kart

1. Berg Toys Buddy

Childhood Fun On Four Wheels

When I was young, personal mobility played an important part in forming my sense of independence. For many young kids today, mobility is realized through use of a bicycle or skateboard. As kids get older, their desire for a more sophisticated form of mechanized transportation also evolves, leading to the use of an automobile. It stands to reason that because driving embodies this personal independence, something like a pedal car would be an attractive toy for a much younger "driver".

Typically equipped with four wheels, the pedal car is a ride-on toy engineered for children and powered entirely by a little one's feet and legs. One of its defining characteristics is the fact that its body style can be manufactured to resemble a real vehicle, such as a fire truck, dump truck, police cruiser, or even a hot rod. The majority of pedal cars on our list reflect an eclectic range of designs. They are often constructed from a combination of steel and heavy-duty plastics engineered to withstand impacts, while maintaining superior safety at all times.

Ride-on toys of any kind provide a world of fun, freedom, choice, growth, and learning for kids of all ages, not to mention a variety of benefits that develop a child's fine motor skills. The toy promotes childhood independence, while a constant pedaling motion develops both the leg muscles and upper limbs when riding around the house or on the sidewalk. Pedal cars spark creativity and the imagination. Depending on the theme, children can use pedal cars as tools for role playing and considering different possibilities, which serves them well later in life when honing critical thinking skills and dealing with adversity. The mobile nature of a pedal car trains a child to understand balance and how to distribute their weight evenly, proving useful for tykes who are just learning to walk. Given that no two pedal cars are identical, kids can form their own identities (and relationships) through group play and social bonding. Finally, no description of a mobile toy would be complete without mentioning the potential for exploration. The pedal car not only gives a kid control over where he goes, but it allows him to familiarize himself with the world around him.

Forming Identity Through Versatility

Most kids are naturally inquisitive and they love to be spontaneous when choosing objects they feel suit their desires and personalities. Keeping that in mind, show your child as many styles of pedal car as possible before making a decision to purchase one. Don't assume that your young daughter isn't interested in a pedal car resembling a fire engine. Part of the experience of giving kids this kind of independence is letting them make the decisions on their own about what they want and the style of car they prefer when it comes to expressing themselves.

Next, consider a child's age and potential for growth spurts when making your decision. Many models are equipped with adjustable steering wheels, seats, seatbelts, and pedals for comfort and accommodating children between ages three and eight. The last thing you want is for your child to outgrow their toy in a year or less.

Safety is also very important. Always keep an eye on your little ones when they ride on a pedal car. Look for an option made with a steel frame, lead-free paint, and with large tires to ensure superior stability and balance on both streets and sidewalks. Very close supervision is recommended on actual streets, since none of these types of cars will offer the speed of a real automobile. It is also for this reason that the colors on the car should be bright and easy to spot.

A Brief History Of Pedal Cars

The birth of the pedal car roughly coincides with the development of the first conventional, gasoline-powered automobile, which is commonly credited to German engineer Carl Friedrich Benz in 1885. This doesn't mean the rudimentary concept of personal mechanized transportation started with Benz's design, but it does mark one of the first practical applications of the technology. This ultimately helped to set the stage for a younger audience to experience the excitement of driving and exploration without the complexities of an internal combustion engine.

Originally constructed with wood frames and sheet steel, the earliest pedal cars appeared in the 1890s and were modeled after real automobiles. Due to their high costs at the time, these toys were primarily found in the homes of only the wealthiest families. The time period between the World Wars was the most popular for manufacturing the cars. Two of the biggest pedal car manufacturers were American National Automobiles of Toledo and Steelcraft of Murray, both based in Ohio. Common designs from these manufacturers included pedal trucks dump trucks, and Model T Roadsters, among other designs.

Pedal car production ceased after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 due to the requirements of metal for the war effort, however the toy experienced a resurgence in popularity by the 1950s. Similar to their engine-powered counterparts, pedal cars appeared in a variety of different styles and colors, and were engineered to reflect the current trends of the automotive industry. In addition to their all-steel construction, many pedal cars were equipped with lights, horns, windshields, whitewall tires, and customized paint jobs.

While pedal cars of the 1950s are collector's items today, there are plenty of modern options from which to choose that are durable enough to withstand heavy abuse from little ones still developing their motor skills. Given their continued popularity and the obsession many automobile enthusiasts have with bringing older trends back to life, it's doubtful that pedal cars will ever fall completely out of style.


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Last updated on July 12, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.


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