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Moreen Simpson: Your childhood toys could be worth much more than you think

Little Mo wasn't impressed with her fancy toy car (Illustration: Helen Hepburn)
Little Mo wasn't impressed with her fancy toy car (Illustration: Helen Hepburn)

A couple of weeks ago I got a fair sickener from one of my favourite TV programmes.

Sunday evening, belly full, lollin’ all comfy on the sofa, watching annoyingly perfect Fiona Bruce on Antiques Roadshow. On comes a gadgie with an ancient toy car ower which the expert started ooh-in’ and aah-in’. A precious gem indeed, sez she, and in such good condition. Much in demand.

“Lucky sod,” I mused until… fit the? I stared at the car again. Holy Mo-ly, I used to have one exactly like that. The telly one red, mine white, but otherwise identical. Then comes the expert wifie: “We can’t get enough of these special toys at auctions. Could be worth between £4,000 and £5,000.”

I was that shocked, I near forgot to stuff the chocolate orange cream into my gob. Then reality struck; if only it was still nestling at the back of my garage with all my other “junk”. If only…

Oot in a sweat of frustration and fury, I Googled the car. No doubt about it, an Austin Junior 40, first made in 1950, selling price: £27 – the equivalent of several weeks’ wages for most folk; the Rolls Royce of pedal cars. Complete with red leather seats, battery-operated lights and horn, Dunlop rubber tyres; a true beauty to behold.

Dad’s lucky streak delivered

So, how come a wee quine in Culter – who had no particular desire for a car – woke up one Sunday morning to her very own extortionate toy, when that £27 would have been upwards of £400 today?

All because my dad had a lucky streak. Whenever he’d tickets for a raffle, he aye won something. The Motor Revels was an annual dance at the Beach Ballroom, run by city car dealers. A glam bash; my mum and dad dressed up to the nines to go every year.

Children crowd around an Austin Junior 40 pedal car in 1978 (Photo: ANL/Shutterstock)

In 1954, the top raffle prize at the event was an absolute stoater – the famous Austin J 40. A’body had their eyes on it. But dad’s luck kicked in and he had the golden ticket.

When I first clapped eyes on it, I was delighted, albeit a bittie perplexed why they hadn’t bought me a bonnie pram. That afternoon, he was more excited than me to get peddalling oot ‘n’ aboot. Off we set across the bridge, passed Rob Roy’s statue and beyond, my leggies up-and-doonin’ like stink.

Of course, no one had a clue how valuable the car was. It just lay in a shed and rusted away, until the scaffies carted it off

That’s when the glittering prize turned into a nightmare. I was quite a lanky five-year-old and I suspect the car was designed for a smaller legs. With every up-and-doonie of the pedals, my knees rubbed against the metal front panel. Soon the blood began to flow, the knees shedding ribbons of skin and stoonin’. Dad stuffed a couple of hankies over them, but they didn’t stick.

Greetin’, I scrambled oot the ruddy car, giving it a heartfelt kick. We’d to trundle home with him bent double pushing the thing. I never got into it again.

A couple of my wee-er cousins used it now and then, but also soon outgrew it. Of course, no one had a clue how valuable it was. It just lay in a shed and rusted away, until the scaffies carted it off. Good riddance… to £4,000 or £5,000!


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