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Cool Things - Electric Car

child-size 1956 Pontiac Star Chief Catalina CoupeChildren's cars have been produced almost as long as those for adults. This pedal car was developed by Pontiac.

Pedal or kiddie cars were marketed to a wide audience and reached their height in popularity during the 1950s. Unlike those that were mass-produced, the car shown here was manufactured specifically as a marketing tool for the Pontiac division of the General Motors Corporation. In addition to its relative uniqueness, the car is electric.

According to one employee of Pontiac, the car was designed by Jack Stuart, who worked in Pontiac's Advertising agency creating premiums for salesmen. The company named the small car the Junior Star Chief after their newly released adult version, the 1956 Pontiac Star Chief Catalina Coupe (a variation of the 1950 Chieftain Super Deluxe Catalina Coupe).

1956 Pontiac advertisementLike its larger counterpart, the Junior Star Chief is teal blue and white and has similar details. The body is made of fiberglass and fits onto a metal chassis. An electric motor in the back connects to the battery up front via cables. It has a padded seat (since replaced) and plastic wheel covers which resemble metal hub caps.  See a side view of the car.

Donor Danny Sevy said his grandfather bought the car at an auction and gave it to him in 1959. The car had been used as a promotional model at Bates Pontiac and Implement in Louisburg, Kansas. Danny remembers that it had working brake lights as well as forward and reverse. The 1956 Pontiac Junior Star Chief brought joy to another generation when Danny's sons were old enough to drive it.

Entry: Cool Things - Electric Car

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 1999

Date Modified: December 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.