Massive Auction of Vintage Go Karts and Pedal Cars Will Rocket You Back to Childhood

Some of the vintage pedal cars date as far back as 1905.

byNico DeMattia|
For Sale photo

Elmer Duellman is the person to see if you're interested in pedal cars. The first-ever pedal car Duellman collected was a 1905 chain-driven car he acquired in 1971 and he was hooked ever since. Duellman's collection now boasts over 700 different pedal cars, go-karts, countless toys and collectibles, and even over 100 vintage cars. However, it's the pedal cars that make Duellman's Fountain City, Wisconsin museum so famous and you'll soon be able to bid on the collection through the Mecum Auction on September, 14.

Duellman's collection of actual vintage automobiles is impressive, featuring such rare classics as a '63 Studebaker Avanti and a '51 MG TD Roadster. However, the pedal cars and go-karts are potentially even more impressive. Whether you're a pedal car fanatic or not, it's fascinating to see such a vast collection of them and how far back some of them date. Many of the pedal cars in this collection predate most current car companies, such as the aforementioned all-original, completely unrestored 1905 wood and metal pedal car. Looking at these vintage pedal cars can bring you right back to childhood, when you'd dream of your own version of four-wheeled freedom.

Not all of them are cars, either. Some of the pedal-powered machines are tractors, planes, and even heavy machinery, such as a bulldozer. Many of the pedal cars resemble real cars, like '20s and '30s Packards, Buicks, Chevys, and Jeeps. My personal favorite is the Lotus, modeled after Jim Clark's 1965 Indy 500-winning race car.

If you'd like a vintage toy car but don't want to do the pedaling yourself, Duellman also has some go-karts heading for auction. Some of them are seriously cool, such as the 50th Anniversary NASCAR go-kart, a Batmobile, and even a Shelby Cobra. The Manco Valvoline open-wheeled race car is probably the coolest go-kart headed to auction, though. Some of the go-karts are electric but some are gas-powered, with a few featuring shockingly large engines for such small machines. For instance, the Polaris Star car has a 400cc 18 horsepower single-cylinder engine. With 18 horsepower and almost no weight, it's probably a little rocket.

The collection is also filled with toys and collectibles. There are countless vintage toys, signs, clocks, oil cans, airplane propellers and other pieces of automotive memorabilia. Anyone who collects vintage car gear will feel like they've died and gone to car heaven while looking at this collection.

And that's all in addition to the classic cars, of which there are many. Duellman was an avid racing enthusiast and was fiercely competitive. That competitive spirit carried over to auctions, where Duellman loved the gamesmanship of getting after the car, toy, or collectible that he wanted. But the best part of Duellman's collection is how much he's always wanted to share it. Not only were his kids allowed to drive the cars and use the toys, he regularly showed them off in parades and local events.

He opened his collection as a museum in 1994 and it's since been the premiere pedal car and go-kart museum in the country. Duellman's cars have ended up in other museums and he even donated a pedal car to the Smithsonian. Elmer Duellman sadly passed on July 31, 2019, following a brief illness, and is survived by his wife Bernadette and six children. But his memory and passion for cars lives on in his collection.

The Elmer's Auto and Toy Museum auction will run September 14-17 and it's a can't-miss auction if you're into vintage automobile memorabilia.