February 15, 2009

The ATCO Junior Safety-First Trainer Was Not A Toy

atco_jr_car.jpg

Growing up, I never felt life's brutal unfairness more acutely than when my mom would tell me about getting to drive the tractor when she was ten. Times were different back then, she'd say, by way of apology for not letting me drive our Audi when I was twelve. What I didn't realize until just now is that that times were different for her generation, too.

When my grandparents were kids, in 1939, the British lawn mower company Whitworth Works introduced the ATCO Safety-First Trainer, an actual road car for children "designed to help stem the rising toll of road casualties by introducing children to the skills of driving from the tender age of seven onwards."

Kids, driving 1hp lawnmower-powered convertibles on the road. Fortunately for the youth of England, this cockamamie scheme was nipped in the bud by the onset of the war, and only 200 or so of these little, moving speedbumps were sold.

As David at Hemming's Blog reports, the one for sale next month at Brightwells is "one of only a tiny handful known to survive," as if there could be any other kind of handful.

March 18, Lot 1: 1939 ATCO Safety-first Junior Child's Car, £2,500 - £3,000, [brightwells.com via hemmings blog]

3 Comments

[QUOTE]moving speedbumps[/QUOTE] Thanks as always for making me laugh out loud.

good lord! giving British auto-engineering to a child? Just imagine some poor twelve year old out in the rain trying to figure out why the horn honks continuously, or why the wipers and lights only work when it's dry and sunny out.

I love British autos, but NOT for their engineering. I guess giving a child one would help them become accustomed to their car being in for repairs.

My grandad invented these, we have one which we restored a few years ago, still runs and is a special treat for good children!
I've only ever seen one in the Beaulieu Motor Museum before.

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