THE ATTLEBORO ARTS MUSEUM ELEVATES THE KID-SIZED CAR TO ART STATUS
by Craig Fitzgerald
There’s fine art, and then there’s the art of mechanical things. Sir William Lyons’ Jaguar E-Type and Hans Muth’s Suzuki Katana have had their day at the MoMA and the Guggenheim, and now it’s time for kid-friendly automobiles, planes and tractors to have their turn in the spotlight. The Attleboro Arts Museum’s Ottmar Gallery will present “Compact and Collectible An Exhibition of Vintage Pedal Cars” from April 9 to May 10.
The exhibition focuses on the golden age of pedal cars the period immediately following the close of the Second World War to the early 1970s. Prior to the war, pedal cars were expensive, intricately constructed mini-automobiles, with steel bodies welded to ladder frames, just like their grown-up cousins. Like the cars they emulated, the pedal cars of the early automotive era were for the elite.
It wasn’t until Murray Ohio a supplier of stamped steel fenders to the automotive industry hired Viktor Schreckengost that the pedal car became something that any child could enjoy. “His ingenious solution for the costly design/manufacturing [process] was simply to have the top and two sides of the body stamped into the same piece of steel and rolled over into the required body shape,” explained curator Chuck Tramontana.