Toy car, Chrysler Airflow four-door sedan, metal, clockwork operated, part of a 2-car garage set, made by K.T. Japan, c.1934
This tin toy car, made in Japan in the 1930s before the Second World War by KT, is part of a 2-car garage set. The car is a representation of the full-size 1934 four-door Chrysler Airflow manufactured in America by the Chrysler Corporation from 1934 until 1937. The Airflow, as it name suggests, was the first full-size American production car to use streamlining in its design. Chrysler engineers, Carl Breer, Fred Zeder and Owen Skelton made a series of wind tunnel tests in 1930 to ascertain air resistance in automobile design. They were aided by the aviation pioneer, Orville Wright. The results confirmed that the then current automobile design was very aerodynamically inefficient. The engineers devised ways the automobile could be built with monocoque or unibody construction which reduced the weight of the car together with streamlining around the radiator, headlights and windscreen. The Airflow went into production but was a commercial failure largely due to it appearing too modern. During the Depression, when there was little consumer confidence, the public shunned the vehicle because it appeared too advanced and only 10,839 cars were sold in its first year of production. The design of the Chrysler Airflow was 20 years before its time.
The tin toy representation of the Chrysler Airflow is an interesting example of how closely the latest designs from American car manufacturers were followed by Japanese tin toy makers, even those which proved to be unpopular in real life.
Curator, Science & Industry
During the 1920s and 1930s the Japanese tinplate toy industry began to develop by imitating Germany toys. Many toys were destined for the United States market and represented the popular American automobiles of the day.
Opie, James (ed) "The Collector's Guide to 20th-Century Toys", Bracken Books, London, 1995.
This toy car is part of a large collection of toys purchased in 1985 from the remarkable tin toy collector Ken Finlayson. As a boy Finlayson admired steam trains but never owned a model train. As an adult he began collecting Hornby model trains, and his interest spread to other model trains and tin toys. He developed his collection at auctions, swap meets and market stalls, and through his connections with toy dealers and other serious collectors. Some toys were simply found sitting on the neglected shelves of remote country newsagencies, brand new and never opened.
Finlayson's knowledge and love of toys brought him a collection of nearly 2000 items, including highly collectable tinplate toys manufactured by respected names such as Carette, Bing, Marklin and Lehmann, as well as a variety of other German, English and Japanese makers. The Finlayson collection contains every type of transport toy - cars, trucks, tractors, fire engines, buses, motorcycles, aeroplanes, ships and trains,- as well as novelty toys, robots, kitchen toys and Meccano sets. It represents the type of toys that were available in Australia in the twentieth century, including ones made in this country by Boomaroo, Wyn-toy, Cyclops, Ferris and Robilt. These Australian toys were usually built from heavy gauge pressed steel rather than thin tinplate, making them sturdy enough for rough treatment in Australian backyards and sandpits.