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Pedal Power exhibit to debut at Volo Auto Museum

Cynthia Wolf Posted on 2018-03-07


vintage pedal cars


Some of the most captivating vehicles soon to be unveiled at the Volo Auto Museum required no hemis, four-barrels or big blocks to set them in motion. Nope, nothing but pure muscle for these beauties — in the form of strenuously circling pint-sized feet.

Yes, a pedal car exhibit is the latest of many treasures visitors to the museum will find. But these aren’t your dad’s rusted out miniature chassis. These are original, painstakingly restored, high-end toys produced by the Murray Co. and others between 1920 and 1950.

“These things are works of art,” said Brian Grams, director of the museum at 27582 Volo Village Road. “Each one is unique. These were definitely rich persons’ toys.”

Each of the cars on display are meticulously detailed with such amenities as moveable throttles and hand brakes, running boards, elaborate grillwork, headlights, hood ornaments, fenders, whitewall tires, windshields and chrome plating. Some have elaborate paint schemes and pin stripes. Others resemble airplanes with pedal-turned propellers.

There’s a Duesenberg miniature; a dual-seat Bugatti; a Packard; an elaborate firetruck with wooden ladders, a ringing bell and a shiny steel water tank with pressure gauge. These and more are all tucked away in Showroom 4, a must-see for kids, parents and kids at heart.

“These are rare,” Grams said. “They were expensive back then, so very few were ever built. And to restore them was a monumental task. It’s not like you can open a catalogue and order parts. You’d have to have them made.” The Volo Auto Museum acquired the restored cars through an area contact who knew a collector.

“It’s cars. It’s history. It’s vintage,” Grams said of his decision to buy. “It’s perfect.”

Spring break, he added, would be a great time to view the new Pedal Power exhibit, as the museum also will feature its Princess and Super Heroes kickoff on March 24. Children wearing costumes will be admitted free that day. Costumed characters from Costumers with a Cause and Fairytale Princess Co. will entertain and pose with visitors for photos. And, for a $5 donation, visitors on March 24 can have their picture taken in the Batmobile, with all proceeds going to the Chicagoland Ronald McDonald House.

The Volo Auto Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It features roughly 400 classic, muscle, Hollywood cars and more. Regular admission is $15 for adults, $9 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children 4 and younger. For other information, call 815-385-3644, find Volo Auto Museum on Facebook or visit

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