Down East 2013 ©
Ed Weirick’s memory of a toy he couldn’t have as a child has led to a full-time occupation as an adult. While some people collect stamps and coins, the Ellsworth antique dealer has built a national reputation collecting cars — pedal cars, that is, hundreds of them. Weirick has literally written the book on the stamped-metal automotive replicas that young baby boomers once pedaled up and down sidewalks all over suburban America.
Weirick, 55, says his fascination with the little cars (and trucks and tractors) began during his own childhood. “I didn’t have one, but a neighbor boy used to let me drive his,” he recalls. Twenty years ago, Weirick began collecting the rusted, unappreciated toys from back rooms and junk shops and restoring them. “I was one of the first people in the country to get into them,” he says.
At one point Weirick had at least a thousand pedal cars of varying vintages and conditions, although he has fewer than two hundred now. “They actually date back to the early days of the automobile,” he explains. “The first ones were made around the turn of the century.”
Weirick admits the pedal car’s newfound popularity is a baby boomer phenomenon, “and not just among men, either,” he adds. “A lot of women had them as children and want them again now. When you look at these cars, they instantly remind you of your childhood. They’re real memory makers.”
These days Weirick is busy flying around the country promoting Pedal Cars, the book he cowrote with Larry Bloemker and Robert Genat, as well as working with the Gendron Wheel Company on a new line of classic pedal cars. It’s his way of making memories for a new generation.
(Published June 2000)