Restorable Micro Car: 1956 Eshelman Sport Car

The Eshelman Sport Car was more toy than car, designed for two children to ride around at 15 mph thanks to a Briggs & Stratton engine. These were fun little machines and the number built is said to have only been a few hundred. This one doesn’t run, but the simplicity of the motor should assist a shade-tree mechanic in getting it going again. Located near Washington, D.C., this throwback to the Baby Boomer era is available here on craigslist for $3,500. Thanks to Jackson Silvia for uncovering this interesting tip for us!

In the 1940s and after World War II, the Cheston L. Eshelman Company had been building light aircraft and pleasure boats, put together from surplus military parts and components. By the 1950s, the company branched out to lightweight garden tractors and other agricultural implements. Then came the Child’s Sport Car, a tiny air-cooled, one-cylinder automobile, which traveled at very slow speeds due to its two-horsepower lawn mower-style engine. It cost $295 and – for another $100 – you could get the Adult Sport Car, which carried just one adult, had 50% more horsepower, could do 25 mph, and had working head and taillights.

As you can see by the photos the seller provides of his 1956 Sport Car, they were small enough to fit on a pallet. The length was just 54 inches, width 24 inches, and height 23 inches. Using a heavy plate-steel platform, the Child’s Sport Car weighed 225 lbs. (and the adult version another 25). Since these were not designed to be used regularly on the street, calling them microcars is a bit of a stretch, but they all came from Eshelman’s plant in Baltimore, Maryland. The seller’s car looks to be solid, has been repainted at least once, but could stand another coat. It’s only had two prior owners, last changing hands in 1980 before the seller acquired it.

The original motor was replaced by a larger Briggs & Stratton powerplant, so it should be able to do more than 15 mph when revived. After consulting with B&S specialists, the seller bought all the engine parts needed to fix up the little car and they will be included with the sale. The seller was intending to restore the car himself, but life gets in the way and someone else will have that pleasure now. Back in the day, these little cars were popular as gifts, advertising premiums, and promotional novelties. Kind of an expensive purchase to turn it back into a children’s play vehicle now. What would you do with it?


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  1. Gary

    Looks pretty dangerous to go 15 MPH. Steering wheel? Those tires? Any kind of suspension? Maybe 2 or 3 MPH, but 15? Anything faster than walking speed is wrong. Just what the little rich kid down the block needed in 1957…the ability to run over Grandma on the sidewalk.

    Like 8
  2. Harvey Member

    First thought,a sports car I could afford:-)

    Like 2
  3. Harvey Member

    Second thought,my lawn tractor offers more performance:-)

    Like 3
    • Lee

      And a better seat!

      Like 2
  4. Lee

    Hmmm? If I bought that car and a clown outfit I could hit the parade circuit!

    Like 1
  5. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Yet another “great” idea for a lawn mower type engine that got spawned in the 50s.

    Like 1
    • Richardd Adams

      For whatever reason, i really wanted to see an engine photo.

      Like 1
  6. Lou Rugani
  7. Lou Rugani

    Check Facebook (“EshelmanCars”) for everything Eshelman. And it was more than cars.

  8. Wes Holliday

    I found it !

  9. Gary

    A pedal car with a motor

  10. Wes Holliday

    There are two versions of Eshelman cars. Smallest is a childs car, it had a low horsepower engine. Second ersion is the Adult Sports Car, with a slightly more powerful engine. The childs car is much smaller. Way to tell them apart in pictures are : the childs cars usually have hole in the hood for throttle adjustment. Adult Sports Car has that lettering embossed in the grill, usually has a full opening hood panel, and low setting body sides for easy entrance.They can have functing lights.
    Eshelman cars are a throwback to the Auto Red Bugs of 1930 and other microcars of that era. It is a fun little car built before the America had automotive safty regulations, was intended to be an inexpensive city commuter car or grocery getter. The Eshelman is acceppted by Antique Auto Clubs, and is a great conversation piece.

    Like 1
  11. Wes Holliday
  12. Clay Bryant

    I had one of these but it was the Adult one and there was several different models of them. I sold mine to the true Eshelman guy in Argyle, Wisconsin and he said mine was one of only 4 turned out like that. Jay Leno has one just like mine and on the quiz part of the show it had a value of 22k and I think they use Haggerty to set worth. I can tell you how big they are as mine fit with 2 inches to spare in the back of my Cavalier station wagon but the back end stuck out of the wagon by about 3 inches so tied the trunk down. No problem? huh! The set up was just right where air flow brought a “little exhaust” back into the car and fed me. I tried every combination of windows down but the only one that worked was the 4/65 model with all windows down. As I had gotten it for free for doing an appraisal that was a free vacation and went on to the Corvette Homecoming in Bowling Green. Another story. lol I’ve had fun dealing with collectible cars for 60+ years and going on 77 and part of life has been great. I bought one car off of Barn Finds, a 2014 BMWi8 prototype electric supercar, one of 15. Getting ready to sell it as I’m cleaning out the ‘stables’. Had it on a showroom floor for 3 months time in a large tire distributors over Christmas and did it get the attention. Gave away a high dollar kids one for $(*#@ and giggles. Was going t take it to shows a year ago but we all know what happened then.

    Like 2
  13. Lou Rugani

    Production began in 1953 at 109 Light Street in Baltimore with some running changes over a four-year period until a fire destroyed the plant. There were two models, the $295 standard with a 2hp Briggs & Stratton #6 and the deluxe with a 3hp B&S #8, seat padding, and chrome ‘rocket’ emblems. The ’55-on Adult Sport Car seated two.

  14. John b

    Is this model the adult or the chiilds model?

    Like 1
    • Lou Rugani

      This is the child’s model, and it looks like the standard at $295 new.

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