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 The toys were originally made from tin and wood parts assembled and painted by hand, with models ranging from chauffeur-driven sedans to circus trains.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]

Most watched eBay auctions    

1960 Cadillac 18” Custom Japanese Tin Car By Yonezawa NrOld 1965 Aoshin Asc Japan Tin Battery Op Monkee-mobile Gto Car W/box. A++ WorksMinty! Vintage Japan Bandai Tin Friction 306 Hot Rod #7 Blue With Original Box 1955 Ford Lasts Longer 12" Pickup By Bandai Nr Rare Large 19 1/4" Nwa Airlines 4 Prop Engine Airplane Tin Toy Asahi Japan Large Tin Friction 1950's American Airlines Airplane Plane Dc-7 Linemar Japan1958 San Japan Tin Friction Dodge Lancer Ht Car. 100% Orig. & Works. No Reserve1950's Tin Lizzy Jalopy Hot Rod 9 1/2" By Arnold Of Western Germany1930's Line Mar Toys Japan Mickey & Friends Airplane Tin Litho Wind Up Rare No/r1955 Chevrolet 2-door Hartop Friction Ichiko Japan All Original 9" Long Nr2 Bandai 1961 Toy Friction Cars Rambler Station Wagon & Sedan Both 4-door 1950's Open Wheel Starfire #52 Racer Race Car W Driver Marusan JapanLg Japan Bandai Tin Friction 1959 Cadillac Convertibe Car. A+ Cond. Works. N ResSpace Rocket Ship 306 W/box Automatic Toy Co Tin Litho Friction WyandotteVintage Bandai # 721 Cadillac Sedan Friction Car In Box Very Clean Rare Large Plymouth Ambulance Hospital Cross Station Wagon Car Ichiko Japan O/b Vintage Tin Friction Chevrolet Corvair Car Toy With Original Box Bandai Japan1954 Kaiser Darrin Convertible Batt Op, Ichiko Japan, All Original, 8"long Nr50's Large Tin Friction Railroad Trolley Bus Streetcar W People Marusan Japan1955 Marusan Tin Toy Friction Silver Eagle Bus In Original Box San Coach Bandi Product Miniatures Plastic International Harvester Pick-up Truck 40's V Rare 1965 Ford Deluxe Thunderbird 13” Hardtop Japanese Tin Car By Atc Nr1966 Buick Skylark Japanese Tin Car W/original Box By Asakusa Nr Tin Friction 1950's Bunny Rabbit Delivery Bicycle Cart Driver Linemar JapanVintage Police Tin Litho (japan) Friction Toy Motorcycle NrVintage Tinplate Space Ship Explorer Mt Modern Toys Japan Friction DriveVintage Yonezawa "y" Tin Friction 1950's Mack Dump Truck - 12" LongVintage Marx Wind Up Fire Dept No. 1 Chief Car With Working Light 11.5 InchTin Friction 1950's Police Motorcycle Motorbike W Driver Gun Sato JapanVintage Tin Toys New Car 60 Chevrolet Friction Powered San Made In JapanRare Early Vintage Cadillac Tin Friction Toy With Original Box JapanHot Rod Tin Friction Toy Race Car.. JapanEarly Tin Friction Toy--boy On Motorcycle Made In Japan Rare Vintage Friction Sparking Fiat Abarth 45 Space Race Car Toy Haji JapanChina Tin Toy. Ms 883 Space Radar Car 6.5" Long MibVintage Rock Valley Tin Friction "1950's Mercury Sedan 8-1/2" Long, JapanVintage Courtland Fire Chief 7.25 Inch Wind Up Car With Siren Vintage Bandai Tin Friction 1961 Nash Rambler - 11" LongTin Lithograph - Vintage Car & Trailer, Friction Toy ~ JapanVintage Tri-ang Minic Cement Mixer Truck Friction Toy Original Paint Nice RareVintage 1950's Bandai Japan Rocket Race Car Racer Toy Tin FrictionMarx Wind Up #4 Race Car. Sprint Car.. Boat TailVintage Tin Friction Marx Official Fire Chief 7.5 Inch Friction CarK.o Tin Test Pilot No 10 ,friction , 50s Japan Top Condition Vintage Tin Friction Toy Garbage Truck Dept Of Sanitation Japan Rare!!!!50's Space Scout Tin Litho 3" Friction RocketChina Toy Tin Plate Drive Friction Cementmixer Autobeton Mf 214 Original BoxVintage 1966 Atc Japan Buick Lesabre 4 - Door Hardtop 19 In. Friction Toy RareAtc Japan Ford Fairlane Ranch Wagon Tin- 14'1930's Linemar Toys Gmc Popeye Movers Tin Friction Toy Truck1950's Tin Litho Friction Japan Ge General Electric Courier Small Toy CarChina Tin Toy. Mf 135 Red Flag Convertable 10." Long. Mib.driverJapanese Modern Toy Volkswagen Beetle Fire Chief Friction Tin Battery CarVintage 1959 Amt Pontiac Bonneville 1/25 Plastic Toy Promo Model Friction CarVintage Red Mercedes-benz 300sl Gull-wing Tin Friction Bell Rings Doors Open ToyTin Linemar Japan Battery Operated American Airlines Dc-7 As ShownVintage 50's/60's Japan Tin Litho Edsel Station Wagon Friction Car rare 1930s  jep Unis France French Bugatti Racer  tin Litho Car Toy #8Vintage Bandai # 721 Cadillac Sedan Friction Car- Almost 1ft Long!!!! Japan Vintage F 94c Us Air Force Lockheed Starfire Friction Airplane Tin Toy