50 years Bobby Car: push car for generations

Status: 01/30/2022 09:10 a.m

For many it is their first car: the Bobby Car has now accompanied generations. It has already been sold more than 20 million times. It didn’t look like that at first.

By Roland Zimmerman, BR

The new children’s slide car was presented for the first time in 1972 at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg. It was invented by the toy manufacturer Ernst Bettag in the neighboring city of Fürth. His company was called BIG, and so the new toy was given an English name: “Bobby Car”, which translates as “rocking car”. The English name was deliberately chosen for an international career, because at that time there were only tricycles for small children.

The Franconian wood sculptor Christian Meyer put the idea for this first set of wheels for small children into practice. But the hoped-for success did not materialize at first. The Bobby Car looked like a vintage car and was hardly inspiring. Even company boss Bettag described it as an “ugly duckling”.

Breakthrough thanks to ergonomics

But the ergonomic functionality helped him to achieve his breakthrough. Driving a bobby car is good for the correct posture, it has a positive influence on the growth and above all the development of children’s joints – this was discovered by scientists in the 1990s. Numerous kindergartens have been equipped with bobby cars for study purposes. It is used therapeutically for hip dislocations.

The toy manufacturer BIG in Fürth produced the little runabout right from the start. But a major fire destroyed the factory in 1998. A new production site was then set up in Burghaslach above the A3 autobahn, halfway between Würzburg and Nuremberg. Here, around 140 employees still produce 2,000 Bobby Cars every day. In the meantime, not only the classic in red, but also more than 100 special models, some of which were co-developed by star designers.

Around 2,000 Bobby Cars roll off the assembly line at the Burghaslach plant every day.

Bild: picture alliance/dpa

Body made of 1.5 kilos of plastic

However, nothing may be changed on the body. It is made from 1.5 kilograms of thermoplastic material. The red polyethylene granules are softened with hot air and blown into shape. Plastic leftovers from this production process are recycled and processed into wheels – now mainly into low-noise ones. “Whisper tires” were a fervent wish for many Bobby Car fans.

A bobby car consists of 30 individual parts and is built so robustly that it is often passed on. Perhaps also because there is a spare parts service for it. Nevertheless, it has since sold more than 20 million copies.

Each Bobby Car consists of 30 individual parts.

Image: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild

Racing with the bobby car

Anyone who had a Bobby Car as a child will usually not forget it as an adult either. As youngsters, some kneel on it. For adults, there are championships and even a world championship – where they tend to race in a prone position. The little racer reaches up to 80 kilometers per hour downhill without a drive. The world record with a converted bobby car is 119 kilometers per hour. However, as with the original, you always brake with your feet. That’s why the bobby car racing pros usually wear shoes with soles made of car tires.

Today, the Bobby Car enjoys cult status and is synonymous with children’s push-along cars. Similar to Tesa, Tempo or Uhu, it has firmly established itself among the brand names that stand for an entire product category. It is, so it is sometimes said, the “Ferrari among toys”. That’s why even the automotive industry congratulated the Bobby Car on its 50th birthday. Pretty envious, as some comments on social networks say – because the Bobby Car is guaranteed to be completely emission-free.


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