1947 Four Wheel Kar-Bike
Single Tube Model
10 x 1.5″ Wheels with Goodyear Solid Tyres
Despite competition from some superb creations, the Kar-Bike is surely one of the most unique and quirky wheeled toys ever invented for the American toy market. Everything about it is different from other trikes and pedal cars.
It was built to be robust and the seat could adjust to different heights and angles so kids could use it for longer as they grew – an important consideration for parents buying wheeled toys for their kids. To illustrate this, the seat on this one is at its lowest position, i.e. closer to the pedals, and the steering wheel is turned 180 degrees, as required by a smaller rider.
But it also had various design flaws (listed on the page for the double tube version; link at the bottom of this page). This example is better preserved than the double tube: it still has its original pedal crank set. Less of these single tube models survived, as their main problem was the unsupported single tube backbone snapping (hence the introduction of the double tube version).
When the Metal Specialties Company, Incorporated, of Cudahy, Wisconsin, came out with this nifty sidewalk cruiser in 1946 they decided it looked like a cross between a pedal car and a bike, hence the name ‘Kar-Bike.’ There were single tube and double tube models.
The biggest selling feature for this toy was the pivoting front axle. When you took a corner a little too fast both front wheels stayed on the ground. This was accomplished by a simple bearing where the frame tied into the front axle. A drag-link mechanism enabled the steering to function as the body tilted.
In April of 1947, Metal Specialties announced another model designed for children 18 months to 4 years. It featured enclosed pulleys and a pedal housing. It is not known if this version, Model S-2047, was ever built. The ad stated they were to be released in June of 1947.
By February of 1948 the Kar-Bike was still on the market, but was now being sold by Weller Products, Inc, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. E.J Weller Jr was the original patentee, his design being filed with the patent dept on 14th October, 1940 – presumably initial production was halted by the war.
Weller Products Inc labeled their 1948 version as ‘Model No. 1000.’ Weller continued production of the Kar-Bikes until at least February of 1949. It is not known how many were produced or when production finally ended.
Double Tube & Single Tube
Kar-Bike info with thanks to – http://www.tnttoytrucks.com/Kar-Bikes.html