Friction toys are a type of wheeled mechanical toy that use an inertia or friction wheel to power their movement. The spring attached to the vehicle’s friction wheel is wound by rolling the toy backwards with its tires pressed against a solid surface. While some use a cog to hold or discharge the spring’s energy, most simply unwind as soon as pressure is released from the vehicle, sending the toy speeding forward.

The invention of friction toys is credited to D.P. Clark, one of the founding members of the Dayton Group, a loose association of Ohio-based toymakers. Clark patented a friction flywheel system in 1897, the same year he initially organized his Dayton Friction Toy Works. Clark’s design led to the company’s series of popular “Hill Climber” friction toys which were produced through the 1930s. The toys were originally made from tin and wood parts assembled and painted by hand, with models ranging from chauffeur-driven sedans to circus trains.

During the mid-20th century most major model car manufacturers, like Marx and Corgi, sold friction toy series. Hot Wheels created particularly extensive lines of plastic friction-powered cars which performed tricks like raising into a wheelie or emitting sparks. Friction vehicles weren’t limited to model cars either; Japanese companies like Cragstan also made friction-powered model planes.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

The Wheelmen

The Wheelmen

This elegant tribute to turn-of-the-century bicycling includes memorabilia, photographs, and an index of 3140 bicyc… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1959 Tin Toy Buick Friction 2 Door 11" Ichiko Japan Tin Lithograph Toy Car N/rCragstan Tin Dc-7c Airplane Friction Toy United Airlines Box & Stairway Japan Ua1950's United States Ocean Liner 14" By Yonezawa Of Japan1955 Roadmaster 4 Dr. Dover White / Gray Friction Promo Toy Car Mib# 6Vintage Japan Friction Tin Litho Toy Sign Of Quality B Fiat 600 Rare Car AutoKts Japan Tin Friction Greyhound Scenic Cruiser 11" Near Mint With Box1953 Pontiac 2 Door Sedan With Driver Tin Friction Toy Ichiko JapanSss Tin Friction White Freightliner Tc Transcon Truck Trailers 21" Exclnt CondYanoman Tin Friction 1966 Porsche 911 S Coupe 15" Very Good ConditionVintage Bandai 1959 Sedan Deville Cadillac Tin Toy Friction Car Made In JapanSss Shioji Tin Friction White Freightliner Cf Tank Truck Semi 15" Excellent Cond Ichiko Japan Tin Friction 1958 Oldsmobile 2 Dr Ht Car. A+. Works. No Reserve1960s Motorcycle Racer Toy By Tn Nomura Japan Tin Friction Very Nice Marx SchucoLarge Ichiko Mercedes Benz Friction Tin Car Toy Japan Antique Ford MasudayaVtg 1950's Japan Tin Friction Circus Monkey With Umbrella Motorcycle Toy Clean Vintage Bandai 1959 Sedan Deville Cadillac Tin Toy Friction Car Made In JapanVintage Ford Fairlane Toy Tin Friction Car 1950's Made In Japan Space Car Sp-1 Tin Friction Toy Linemar Japan1955 Roadmaster 4 Dr. Black And White Friction Promo Toy Car Mib# 51930s Vintage Sk Japan Tin Friction 7" Volkswagen Bus, Combi Van Toy(lot #264) Vintage Johan Toy Promo Car 1959 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight FrictionVintage Toy Evel Knievel Plastic Friction Stunt Motorcycle With Figure1955 Roadmaster 4 Dr. Castle Grey-tahiti Coral Friction Promo Toy Car Mib# 4(lot #260) Vintage Toy Promo Car 1956 Ford Fairlane Victoria Friction Red WhiteRare Vtg 60's S.t Japan Friction Japanese Safari Bus 5630 Litho Tin Toy WorksScheible Dayton Friction Drive Roadster Toy Tin Car Dated 1921 Friction Works !!Vintage Bandai Tin Friction Car ~ Tan Cadillac ~ Mint In Box! Works Perfect!(lot #258) Vintage Toy Promo Car 1953 Studebaker 2 Door Friction RedRare Line Mar Toys Pepsi Cola Double Dot Friction Truck NrRare Vtg 60s Yoneya Japan Friction Chevrolet Ambulance Station Wagon Car Tin ToyVintage 1950's Era Friction Gmc Rexall Truck And Trailers Toy W/ Box(lot #261) Vintage Johan Toy Promo Car 1959 Desoto Fireflite Friction Kts Tin Friction 1963 Corvair Greenbrier Rea Express Truck 8" Excellent CondVintage Tin Friction Toy Car 1951 Pontiac Chieftan-japanY , Yonezawa 16 Inch Friction 1957 Ford Tin Toy,complete Missing NothingVintage Japan Pontiac Sedan Car Tin Lithographed Friction Powered Toy 10.5" 50s Japan Usaf F9f-5 Panther Navy Vf-127 Tin Litho Figther Airplane Friction ToyTin Friction Toy Car 10" Long Works Has Wear Broken Windshield Japan Good Cond(lot #259) Vintage Toy Promo Car 1952 Ford V8 2 Door Friction (lot #255) Vintage Toy Promo Car 1954 Plymouth 4 Door FrictionRare Vintage 60's Ck Japan Friction Western Pacific 5879 Trolley Train Tin ToyWynn's Friction Proofing Streamliner Trade Mark Modern Toys Japan Vg!1950's Yonezawa Atom Jet Racer Space Car Parts BottomVintage Tinplate Friction Duck (missing) & Bulldog Toy, Usagiya Toys Japan Vgib.Antique Vintage Pressed Steel Friction Drive Toy Truck - Dayton Five TonMarusan Toys Kosuge Mercedes Benz Jupiter Tin Lithographed Friction Toy 10 1/4" Vintage Tin Litho Ice Cream Truck Friction Powered, New York, Ny Rare Tin ToyHot Rod With Box { Take A Look! }1950's Yonezawa Atom Jet Racer Space Car Small Parts Wen-mac Delco Shock Special Modified 1957 Chevy Windup 9 B/gs1950s Marx Tin Litho Red Toy Car 3" Friction Motor Works Perfect - Very Rare Vintage Tin Toy Pressing Friction Water Wagon #654 Made China W/boxRare Vtg 50s Modern Toys Japan Friction Locomotive North Western D-805 Train TinVintage Saunders 1932 Flathead V8 Ford Hot Rod Roadster Plastic Friction Toy CarBandai Japan Ford Wagon 12" Tin Friction Toy Car 1950 Works Very Rare Orig. 1960's Toy Chevrolet Corvair- Banda Japan Friction CarVintage Tin Litho U.s. Army Pickup Truck Friction Toy. Military Ordinance DeptVintage Tin Friction Indian Canoe Toy - With Box JapanFriction Tin Toy Lot Semi Truck No TrailerVintage Volkswagen 1500 De Luxe Saloon Toy Car Friction Motor Orig Box Plastic