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 The toys were originally made from tin and wood parts assembled and painted by hand, with models ranging from chauffeur-driven sedans to circus trains.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

Antique Dayton Pressed Steel Coupe Roadster Toy Friction Car Truck Buddy L VtgVintage Japan Air Lines Jal Nomura Tn Tin Friction Toy Boeing 727 Jet AirplaneRare 11” Haji Japan Tin Friction 1960 Ford Openning Hood 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire 2 Door Hardtop Rare Japanese Tin Car By Ichiko NrVintage 1950s 60s Tin Friction Volvo Pv544 Car Red Made In Japan 7-1/2" Toy 1950 Buick Super 4-door Convertible 11" Japanese Tin Car By Alps-kyodo Nr1961 Plymouth 2 Door Station Wagon 12” Japanese Tin Car Nr Vintage Tin Lithograph Wind-up Falcon C-59 Speed Race Boat Tm Modern Toys JapanVintage Tow Truck Wrecker Japan Tin Friction Toy Car Vehicle Mib #1Vintage Tow Truck Wrecker Japan Tin Friction Toy Car Vehicle Mib #2Vintage Haji Gyrodyne Helicopter Tin Friction Toy Excellent Condition JapanLtd Toy Stamp & Japan Bandai Rolls Royce Silver Cloud Friction Tin Litho Mib Vintage Tin Friction Lithograph Stunt Car Champion With O/b Sy Yoneya JapanVtg Sato Made In Japan Military Police On Motorcycle Tin Lithograph Friction ToyRare 7-1/2” Japan Tin Friction Frosty Bar Ice Cream Truck Exc1950's Tin Friction Buick Open Convertible Car W Passengers Driver Japan1960's Rolls Royce Silver Cloud Saloon Japanese Tin Car W Original Box NrVintage 1960's Karmann Ghia Convertible Volkswagen Candy Apple Red Sweet! *rare*Rare Circus Elephant Space Theme Car Tin Litho Friction Cragstan Japan Toy1950's Tin Friction Gold Arrow Racer Race Car W Driver Bandai Japan Vintage Tin Lithograph Wind-up F-55 Flying Fish Speed Race Boat Asahi Toy JapanVintage Large Tin Friction Toy Airplane --- Lockheed F-94c Starfire -- JapanVintage Log Hauler Lumber Truck Japan Tin Friction Toy Car Vehicle Mib Vintage Tin Bandai Friction 1960's Subaru 360 2 Door Sedan Toy Car #752 JapanBandai Bandaiya Rare Vintage 1956 Austin Healey 100-six Tin Friction Toy Car MntRare 9-1/2’ Daiya Japan €Vintage Boom Crane Truck Japan Tin Friction Construction Toy Car Vehicle Mib #2Vintage Boom Crane Truck Japan Tin Friction Construction Toy Car Vehicle Mib #1Bandai Auto-union Dkw 1000 Japan Tin Friction Car Un-played With! Mint-like!! Vintage Cko Kellermann German Tin Friction Toy Farm Tractor W/farmer Figure MibGreat 1950s Ko Japan Wind-up Friction Space Elephant Tin Litho Toy - Not WorkingVintage Usaf Fw-771 Tin Litho Friction Plane Yonezawa Japan Super Saber ToyVintage Japanese Tin Toy Friction Race Car Mercedes Universe Made In JapanVintage Cement/concrete Mixer Truck Japan Tin Friction Toy Car Vehicle Mib Vintage Overland Tractor Trailer Truck Japan Tin Friction Toy Vehicle MibRare Vintage Original Usagiya Toys Japan Tin Litho Friction Fire Truck W/ Box5-1/2” Long Haji Japan Tin Friction Motorcycle Exc+Vintage Grain Hauler Tractor Trailer Truck Japan Tin Friction Toy Vehicle MibVintage..tin Or Pressed Steel..8 1/4" Long Working Friction Toy Car..goes GoodAmerican Airlines Friction Powered Lockheed Electora Airplane Tin Toy Iob Buy!!!1966 Buick Lesabre 4 - Door - Hardtop With Box Ex To MintChampion Dragster Starlucky Made In Japan Tin Friction Race Car 50's ? 13 InchVintage Gerry Anderson Stingray Friction Toy With BoxVintage 1950 Cadillac Promo Friction Car By Wyandotte Toys Usa 9"Japanese Line Mar Or Mar Line Tin Litho Friction Floor Toy Ferry 11" Vintage 1960's Japan Tin Lithograph Friction Toy Vw Volkswagen Carmen GiaVintage Tin Litho Citroen Ds19 Hard Top Friction Car Japan 1960's 1954 Pontiac Star Chief By Asahi (atc) Friction CarF 3 H Demon Jet Japan Tin Toy Airplane Friction Large Navy Jet 14” With 2 BombsRare Two Sided Litho/tin Friction Toy Race Car Trademark Modern Toys - Japan60's Tin Military Police Jeep & Vw Volkswagen Bus Politie Japan Friction Toy CarMinature Small Tin Line Mar Coca Cola Truck Vintage Friction Toy Japan1950s Bandai Japan Tin Friction 8” Mercury Station WagonVintage Linemar Marx Bulldozer Japan Tin Friction Construction Toy Mib #2Ltd Toy Stamp & Amt Pro Toy Friction Car 1959 Buick Convertable W/boxYonezawa Japan Multi-action Happy Chick Friction Tin Toy, 1957, Works!Motorcycle Racer Tin Toy Friction Drive, Animated RiderVintage Japan Tin Litho Friction Advertising Car & Truck Lot Of 7Vintage Linemar Marx Bulldozer Japan Tin Friction Construction Toy Mib #1Vtg Toy 1953 Black Corvette Convertible Friction Car - 50's / Fifties - Japan