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 The toys were originally made from tin and wood parts assembled and painted by hand, with models ranging from chauffeur-driven sedans to circus trains.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

Large Tin Friction 1961 Buick Lesabre Hardtop Car W Original Box Nomura Japan1960 Cragstan 11658 Auto Cycle Friction Tin Toy Venus Motorcycle In Box ~ JapanVintage 1950s Marusan Japan Tin Friction No. 27 V8 Special Toy Indy Race CarTin Friction 1956 Pontiac Convertible Car W Lady Driver Passengers Irco JapanVintage 1960's Nomura Subaru Friction Toy Pick Up Truck Japan1963 Buick Estate Wagon By Bandai And 1958 Dodge Royal Lancer 4-door HardtopVintage Technofix German Vespa Scooter Motorcycle Tin Toy Friction Red G3Vintage Ultraman Japanese Tin Toy Friction Robot Airplane Toy Bullmark? JapanVintage Pressed Steel Airplane Toy-friction? Hill Climber? 1920's Original-look!1959 Chevrolet Station Wagon Tin Friction Toy Asakusa Japan T.n Nomura Kosuge 1958 Ford Skyliner Convertible / Battery Op. / Tin Japan / BoxChina Tin Toy. Mf 837 Radar Car (jeep) (f) 6.5" MibVintage Jnf Mercedes W196 Race Car Tin Friction Toy Western Germany Monoposto T.n Japan Tin Friction 1958 Ford Skyliner Convert. Car In Works. A+. Last Offer Rare Msk Japan Rambler Taxi Tin Lithographed Friction Toy Car 8 1/4"China Tin Toy. Me 644 Machine Gun Drill Soldier (b/o) 12.5" Mib. . Vintage Tin Friction Mp Military Modern Co Police Toy Made In Japan Tin Toy Nine 1960's Tin Toy Friction Ford Mustang Ambulance Police Fire Cars Nice Shape 1960s Ferrari 813 Racecar By Bandai And 1960s Jaguar Xke Coupe By BandaiPressed Metal Friction Car Made In Japan. Great ConditionVintage Tin Friction Powered Old Jalopy Toy Car Excellent1960's Red China Tin Toy Space Ray Burp Machine Gun Friction Mint Box Mf Ms 602Vintage Toy Johan 1961 Plymouth Chrysler Fury Friction Model Car Promo By Jo HanVtg - Rare Rally Of The World Tin Litho Ford Galaxy Toy Friction Car Taiyo Japan1959 Ford Metal Tin Friction Car Fire Chief Toymaster Made In Japan Toy MasterVintage 1960s Tin Litho Friction Toy Jet Race Car #1 Japan Hitachi - IchimuraTechnofix Toy Scooter Motorcycle Friction NiceVintage E D Japan Tin Litho Friction Motorcycle Racer No 15 Toy WowVintage Japan Tin Toy Friction Steamship Warship Convertible Vessel Boat + Box !Old Tin Marx Tri-city Express Truck W/friction *vintage 1950's Pressed Steel Toy Vintage Tin Mar Line Allstate Toy Friction Tow Truck/wrecker Ca1900 Clark Pressed Steel Hill Climber / Friction Fire Engine Ladder Truck ToyVintage Bandai Triumph Tr4 Tin Friction Toy Car Japan 8" Parts/ Restore?Vintage Toy Tin Friction Continental Trailways Express Silver Eagle Bus No.27505Vintage Japan Friction Power Ford #12 Champion 365 H.p.tin Toy Car5 Pc. Vintage Tin Litho Toys Lot-marx Line Mar-yone-nt- K-nice Friction ToysDexter The Digger Friction Powered Digger Wow Toys New SealedVintage 1930's Kt Tasyo Sei King Tin Litho Wind Up Toy Airplane Made In JapanScarce Vintage Sss Shioji Japan Tin Friction Lumber Truck W/ Logs Prompt Ship Vintage Toy Friction Car Carrier Truck And Cars JapanVintage 1960's Tin Litho Dodge Armored Toy Truck Cragstan Japan Friction Tin ToyVintage Bandai Oldsmobile Toronado Tin Friction Toy Car Japan 8" Parts/ Restore?Vintage Alps Japan Us Army Tin Litho Friction Rocket Launcher Incomplete Lot EVintage 1960's Friction Oil Tanker Tin Truck W/ Box & Sound Effects - C9Lot Of 3 Vintage '50's-60's Made In Japan Tin &tin Friction Toy CarsVintage Collectible 1955 Nebraska Tin Litho Friction Toy Car Hot Rod Rat RodVintage Tin Friction Aerial Ladder Fire Engine Truck Toy W/ Orig BoxS.s.s. Toys World Wide Automobile Car Carrier Transporter Friction Toy Vintage VVintage Mar Line Toys Tin Friction Truck Farmers Market Old Toy Truck Ga PeachesCa1910 Dayton Pressed Steel Hill Climber / Friction Oceanliner / Steamship ToyVintage Heathcliff Friction Powered Mover Talbot Toys 1982 Mint On Card Vintage Tin Black & White Panda On Motorbike Friction Toy Made In ChinaVtg Friction Tin Toy Esso Truck Made In Japan Missing 1 TireVtg Friction Tin Toy Motorcycle Dunlop Cord Tires Made In Western GermanyThe Little Bus Tayo Talking [ Chris ] Cement Mixer Big Size Toy Bus Friction CarThe Little Bus Tayo Talking [ Frank ] Fire Truck Big Size Toy Bus Friction CarThe Little Bus Tayo Talking [ Frank ] Fire Truck Big Size Toy Bus Friction CarFireball Frankie Racing Car Wow Toys - Friction Power -no Batteries NeededVintage Marx Tin Litho Friction Cat Chasing Ball Push Down Tail Working Vg L@@kPororo Super Carrier Car Toy Korean Tv Animation - Friction Powered Car