Classic Vintage Toy: 1950 Murray Flat-Front Pedal Car

As soon as I saw this vintage pedal car come across the desks here at Barn Finds, I just knew that I had to write about it. The reason why was because when I was a lad, I actually had one identical to this. Barn Finder Roger referred the pedal car to us, so thank you so much for rekindling some of my childhood memories, Roger. The Murray pedal car is located in Madison, Wisconsin, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $189 for this miniature classic.

Classic toys are very popular today, and metal pedal cars are highly sought. This one was manufactured by the Murray Ohio Manufacturing Company, which was established in 1910. Initially operating in Detroit, Michigan, they shifted operations to Cleveland, Ohio, and actually became known as Murray following the conclusion of World War II. They manufactured a number of different styles and types of vehicles, including cars styled as Fire Chief vehicles, and even pedal tractors. This Flat-Front is a miniature fire engine, which is exactly the same as the one that I had. The paint is showing the wear and tear of years of use but is in surprisingly good condition for a toy of this age. As well as the chrome bell, the pedal car would have had a battery-powered light on the hood, but this is now gone. However, reproduction items are available online, and you can find a light for as little as $60.

The pedal car does display a few bumps and dings, but none of these appear to be too bad. The little racks at the back housed a pair of tiny wooden ladders, one on each side. These are also available online, so it appears that it would be possible to undertake a full restoration of the car if so desired. One of the distinctive features of the Murrays of this era was the starburst hubcaps. These are still present on this one, and look like they would also restore quite nicely.

This Murray is so good and so close to complete that it is nothing short of a miracle. The original pedals and rods are still present, and the owner says that it all works as it should. Once again, replacements for almost every conceivable part are now available. If the car is to be restored a new windshield frame might be required, as this one is quite bent. One positive is that the original seat pad is still intact, and that fact alone is amazing.

The Murray Flat-Front pedal car is an icon, and this one is a surprisingly good survivor from the 1950s. Complete reproduction pedal cars are available, but there’s nothing quite like the real deal. It could be used as it currently stands, or it could be restored and used by a child. Alternatively, it could make a pretty interesting display in a man cave.

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Comments

  1. Ken Carney

    I remember having one of these when I
    was very small. It may have been used,
    but to me, it was the greatest thing since
    sliced bread. I think the wooden ladders
    were gone off mine too. Didn’t matter.
    I had the coolest toy in the neighborhood!

    Like 4
  2. Will Fox

    This actually dates to approx. 1962. It’s loosely modeled after the `59 Plymouth if you look at the front end. This same pedal car was also done in a number of guises, like a police car, a turquoise convertible, etc. I remember having one in about `62-`63 as a little squirt.

    Like 13
    • Harry

      As the owner of this vintage beauty I was not sure about the production date. According to what I could find online the Star Burst hub cap design and the tabs that attach them dates the fire truck to about 1950. Is there a website that could get me dialed in and determine 1950 vs. 1962?

      Like 1
      • Bill

        The design of the car should dial you in to closer to 1960. Slab sided design, flat grilles and quad headlamps didn’t come into vogue until about 1958. I can’t think of a single automobile design from 1950 that had those features.

        A pedal car from 1950 would have a more rounded bulbous shape like most of the cars produced right after The War.

        I also had one of these in ’64, a red convertible model. The design more closely resembles the ’59 Ford Fairlane or Plymouth Fury than anything from late ’40s/early ’50s.

  3. OrangeKrate

    I had one of these! Mine was well loved by the time I got it, so it was missing basically everything but the pedals and steering wheel iirc.

    Like 1
  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    My younger brother had one of these. Unfortunately, being on the ranch, the only smooth surface to run on was the driveway, and it wasn’t all that long. However, my brother put a lot of miles on his car before he graduated to the bicycle. I often wonder what happened to the old pedal car…

    Like 2
  5. 71FXSuperGlide

    Back when stuff was ‘Made in the USA’.

    Cool. Would like to hang it up from my garage ceiling.

    Like 10
    • ChevyTruckGuy

      Yep! From a bygone era. Made in the USA. And, when boys were allowed to be boys! I’d display it as-is. Great vintage look!

      Like 4
  6. Mark

    My parents bought me one similar when I was three. It was a brownish color with wood grain paneling painted on. Same grill, hubcaps, and rails on the back.

    1963

    I outgrew it. My brother put a second 100,000 miles on it and finally the whole rear axle assembly collapsed.

    Like 2
  7. Keith

    Thinking back to the sixties I think my brothers and I had one of these that was blue with a white stripe? Can’t remember for sure though…..

    Like 1
  8. art

    Oh the memories..
    Mine was new with the ladders. I put so many “miles” on it that the rubber on the tires wore to the point my dad had to find a place that could re-tread them. How he found that place, I have no idea but I remember going with him to get the new rubber put on so that I could go another umpteen hundred miles.
    Thanks so much for triggering that great memory.

    Like 2
  9. Jeffro

    Wow. I feel so left out being born in 1970. I was stuck with a Big Wheel that had a flat spot on that huge front tire.

    Like 5
    • Mountainwoodie

      You should. You got screwed! LOL Plastic crap.

      Like 1
  10. Lance

    Finally! Something on Barn Finds I can afford.

    Like 14
  11. lbpa18

    Mine went to outer space, the tops of lots of clouds, was faster than any cop car, and put out lots of imaginary fires. It didnt have seat belts, an airbag, ABS, or computers. It was all you, success or failure. Im pretty sure if I knew what a girl was back then it probably had chicks hanging all over it too. Having the correct fireman’s hat and a Roy Rogers six gun on my hip probably helped. Back when men were men and the plastic Barbie Jeep hadnt been invented yet.

    Like 3
    • Mountainwoodie

      Testify!

      Like 1
  12. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    My older brothers and I had one as kids. I don’t remember much about it though as I’m the youngest of ten. But I do remember a pedal tractor and a skooter that we wore completely out. That was back in the 50’s and we didn’t have concreted or paved areas on the farm.
    God bless America

    Like 4
  13. Dave Mazz

    This one should be favored by the folks who prefer two-door cars over four-door models….it’s got *no* doors!! :-) :-) I like the asking price, it’s more in line with my budget than some of the other collectables out there!

    Like 2
  14. Bob C.

    I had a pedal car something like this, but it sort of resembled a 1958 Thunderbird. Mine was just a blue car, but a couple of kids in the neighborhood had the same in fire chief form.

    Like 1
  15. kiteflier

    I had the murray tractor and the neighbor girl had the fire engine. We were both six. My old man mounted a 3hp gas motor on the tractor step behind me with an idler pulley that I would engage with a lever made of pipe. So the neighbor girl’s dad put a 5hp motor on her fire engine and the first time she pulled the lever the thing flipped over backward and that was the last time we saw it.

    Like 2
  16. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I am close if someone wants me to take it for a test drive. Kind of thinking for myself.

    Like 1
  17. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    not a bad price considering……

    Like 1
  18. Randy

    I have mine still. I have had it since 1962 as it was my 5th birthday gift. I restored it 5 years ago to original condition.

    I would have to say that it cost about $400 to by the parts from Speedway and having it painted. It’s more than it’s worth in the market so it’s a labor of love. The market hasn’t caught up with the cost of restoration.
    All the parts and the graphics are available so go for it and turn it into a family heirloom. GLWTS

    Like 3
  19. OIL SLICK

    I still have mine, got it new in the 60’s for a B-day. Also had a green tractor that had a wagon. It was a really cool red that shined bright. Was my dd until I got a big wheel and wore out 3 of those.

    Like 3
  20. Poncho

    I had one of these as well as another 1 or 2 metal pedal cars growing up. All was great until the old man got mad about something one day and cut all the cars up with a cutting torch. Ahh, the memories of a scarred childhood. Purchased a Dude Wagon and a 1960’s Mustang from my best friend’s Mom after his Dad passed and he didn’t want them in his collection (didn’t have room). Going to be man art in my guest room in my restored 1870’s stone farm house. I cleaned the paint up from the stickers plastered on them, compounded and waxed the paint. There are some dents and scratches, but that is part of the story of the cars. Stickers needed to go though. (Wacky Packages stickers from the 1970’s). I will get some of the missing parts eventually and they won’t get driven for a while.

    Like 1
  21. Rodney - GSM

    How great is this thing? Talk about toys that could take a punch. I am, however, confused by the coffin-like handrail painted on the sides. Seems a little creepy for a child’s toy. After your kid did a head-on into a wall were you suppose to bury him/her in it? Just asking……

    • CATHOUSE

      The handrail was to replicate the rail that the firefighters would hang onto as they stood on the running boards or the back of the fire truck. The toy company took a little poetic license with putting that handrail on the side of a car without running boards.

      • Rodney - GSM

        Got it. Thanks!

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