Doc Comstock, Walnut Grove, Mo., gave me photographs of his Maytag Toy Racer at the fall swap meet at Pittsburg, Kan. Doc is a Maytag collector, and has been lucky enough to find and purchase a Racer from another collector. The Maytag factory started numbering the cars at 500. His car is number 755, made on Sept. 27, 1935, one of seven Racers produced that day.
The car was in fairly good shape, Doc said. The original serial number name tag is still intact on the dashboard. It was missing some of the accessories, such as the hood ornament and parts of the original-style clutch. The original tires were in bad shape, and Doc is looking for good originals to make the restoration complete. He needs four to complete the restoration, which is almost finished.
Doc has completely disassembled the car, rebuilt and replaced worn parts, painted it to the original factory paint scheme, and reassembled the Racer.
The history behind the Toy Racer is also very interesting. It seems that a few Maytag dealers around the country began building toy racers in the early 1920s, utilizing the one-cylinder Multi-Motor. They were used in local parades to promote the store and Maytag washing machines. Some dealers promoted races, going from town to town getting out the word about Maytag washing machines. Many of the shop-built Racers had flaws in both construction and appearance. As word got back to the factory about the success of the Racer promotions, the decision was made to have a factory-built Racer.
The Racer's origins are detailed in a November 1934 article in the Maytag News.
"Many a manufacturer learned long ago that when he got the kids of the country rooting for him, his product's success was assured, and for a proof of this statement, one only has to look on every side and note the campaigns directed toward the youth of the land. Once their interest is aroused, their enthusiasm is no half-way proposition. They go all the way."
The Maytag company set to work designing a brand new Toy Racer to be powered by the Maytag Multi-Motor. This was to be a newly designed Racer, from bumper to bumper, and neither time nor expense were spared to make the Maytag superior to every other racer on the market.
The general merchandising plan called for dealers to motor through the streets in cars with banners carrying legends like "Maytag prices reduced. See the Maytag before you buy any washer," "Maytag now makes a low-price washer. See it on display at our store, or phone for a demonstration" and many others. The signs included the dealers' name, address and phone number.
Racers were sometimes given away free. Other dealers would buy a Racer, and run it around town with a banner reading "This Racer to be given away FREE. Call our store for details." This promotion got the parents as interested as the kids, and many tried their best to win the Racer for their boy or girl. The Racer was given to the person that got the most demonstrations resulting in sales of washers.
Racers also were used at fairs and exhibits for promotional purposes. One divisional manager, his district manager and dealers purchased 18 Racers and held a series of races throughout the towns in that division. Crowds as big as 15,000 witnessed the races, often held on main streets. FC
For more information on Maytag cars, Multi-motors, etc., Doc Comstock, 6929 N. Farm Road 69, Walnut Grove, MO 65770; (417) 751-2926.
A collector for more than 26 years, G. Wayne Walker Jr. is the marketing director and a regular columnist for Farm Collector.