Comics prompt pedal car nostalgia


Author: Martin PortPublished:

When I was young, my grandparents would, without fail, buy me a comic annual each year for Christmas.

Of course, most of these annuals are long since gone, but a few still remain on my bookshelf having been retrieved from the loft in a moment of nostalgia.

This Christmas I started to reminisce about how eagerly I read and re-read the stories within the hardbacked issues of Topper or Dandy.

Flicking through the oldest - a 1973 copy of the Dandy Christmas Annual (Korky the cat on the cover, balancing a Christmas pudding on a string of sausages!) - I discovered a wealth of now-classic vehicles adorning the illustrated pages, even if they aren't all as easy to identify as the Series I Land-Rover in one particular strip.

For me though, it was Rip Cooper's pedal car that captivated my imagination as a child. As soon as I was old enough to read the 1973 edition bought as a first Christmas present, I wanted my own go-kart.

The classic single-seater that Rip begins the story with was all very well, but after a shunt, it was the homemade effort that his grandad put together from an old tin bath and some pram wheels that held my attention and had me drawing my own "interpretations" for longer than I care to remember.

With the faintly D-type-esque rear fin, white side-stripe and bonnet mascot, it was obviously going to win the 'pedal car grand prix' and make Rip Cooper a hero.

A few years later, when my dad finally made me my own pedal car, it was an elaborate affair with rack and pinion steering and a speedometer scale from an Austin Maxi.

It was my pride and joy, even if it lacked the aerodynamics of Rip Cooper's 'bathtub special', and remained so until I drove it into the back of a Mini in 1982.



My father built me a bright red pedal car back in the 1950s. It was magnificent! The chassis utilised a redundant bed frame and the body was crafted from sheet steel. The base of a budgie cage stand (Joey had long since fallen off his perch) contributed its circular ballast weight to act as a steering wheel while the brassy spun metal cover was mounted on the boot of the roadster body to replicate a spare wheel cover. The really clever part was that that roadster boot could be replaced with a working dump-box operated by a lever from the cockpit. Less cleverly all this added up to more weight than my prepubescent little legs could effectively motivate.

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