By James Raia
A forthcoming exhibit in Rhode Island allows youngsters to get behind the wheel of cars made to fit. And, don’t miss the race when the pint-sized humans take to the track in their pint-sized vehicles. If you plan to be in the area, this would be fun to visit.
The Audrain Automotive Museum, located in Newport, Rhode Island, recently announced its newest exhibit dedicated to tiny vehicles. The “Small Wonders: Mini, Micro, Pedal & Toy Cars” exhibition will open Nov. 21 and continue through Feb. 14, 2021.
Besides gas-powered vehicles, collections of pedal cars, child-sized power cars and toy cars will also be on display.
Pedal cars for children first appeared in the late 1880s when Karl Benz introduced his three-wheel Patent Motorwagen for adults. By the early 1900s, pedal cars were widespread, especially in the United States, England, France and Australia.
Pedal cars: Not just for kids
While often well received by kids, their parents liked the tiny vehicles because their designs mimicked attractive cars of the day. Pedal cars like the Austin J40 were not cheap to purchase when they hit the market after World War II; working men would generally need to save two or three weeks of full wages to purchase a J40.
Pedal cars remain hugely popular, largely because of the Settrington Cup race for children. It’s held during the Goodwood Revival, a three-day automotive festival. It’s been presented annually since 1998 in Chichester, West Sussex, about 60 miles outside of London.
The competition features vintage vehicles from the time frame 1949–1966. Participants in all races usually dress in period attire.
The BMW Isetta, Fiat 500 Jolly, a Nash Metropolitan and a Peel P50 are among the more well-known micro cars scheduled to be on display. Experimental cars, concept vehicles and race cars will also be exhibited.
Organizers will restrict attendance into the gallery to 25 at one time to maintain proper social distancing.
According to its website, the Audrain Automobile Museum began in 2014 with the mission of “Preserving, Celebrating & Sharing Automotive History.”
For more information, visit: audrainautomuseum.org
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