THE MAYTAG RACER

Maytag Toy RacerThe Parsons Band-Cutter and Self-Feeder Company was organized in 1893, with Frederick Louis Maytag as one of the cofounders. At first, the company manufactured farm machinery. After the turn of the century, Fred Maytag became the sole owner of the company, the company name was changed to the Maytag Washing Machine Company (later abbreviated to Maytag Inc.), and the company began to produce a variety of products--including the Maytag-Mason automobile from 1907 to 1911 and the Maytag tractor in 1916.

The first Maytime washing machine was introduced in 1905--the "Pastime." It was hand-operated with a crank; although, a pulley was attached so that it could be powered by an outside source such as an gasoline engine or a windmill. A Maytag washing machine with an electric motor was issued in 1911 and the first Maytag washing machine with a gasoline engine--the Maytag Multi-Motor--was introduced in 1915.   

After the Maytag Model 92 Multi-Motor became a popular source of power for washing machines, some dealers and service managers used the engine to power small home-made cars for their children and for use in parades. Mechanically-inclined young people also built cars for themselves using these engines. With the widespread availability of electricity to homes, dealers had a new market replacing gasoline engines with electric motors. They created a market for these surplus engines by encouraging young people to build small cars and by sponsoring races and giving away decals and prizes.

Maytag RacerA few companies were formed to build small cars incorporating Maytag engines; the Winston Corporation  in Joliet, Illinois, and the Grimes Manufacturing Company in Urbana, Ohio, were amongst the more prominant of these. Some Maytag dealers acquired cars produced by these companies and provided rides for youngsters that distributed leaflets or arranged for washer demonstrations in homes. In other cases cars were given to youngsters who accumulated the most points based on numerous demonstrations and/or sales. These sales techniques were an excellent way to demonstrate the power and versatility of Maytag engines.

Maytag Toy Racers were made as a sales promotion by the Maytag Company from October 11, 1934, until December 1, 1941. They coexisted with Winston Racers and Grimes Toy Trucks. As well as being used by dealers to encourage children to distribute advertizing material or to arrange for demonstrations of washing machines in homes, they were given away in local contests based on sales, and in some cases sold outright as gifts to children. The toy cars were also sold to amusement parks for use as carnival rides. Maytag Racers were a popular feature at the Texas Centennial Exposition.

Maytag EngineDuring the 1930's, some carnival companies built their own small cars with Maytag engines. A number of these were exported for Europe.

A total of 498 Maytag Toy Racers are known to have been made, of which only about 35 are still in existence--many of them in museums. The first models were powered by the single-cylinder Model 92 Maytag Multi-Motor with a cone clutch. Racers produced after  serial number 934 were powered by the Maytag Twin-Cylinder engine; this unit used a belt-tightening arrangement for a clutch. The brake and clutch were operated with one lever on both models. The top speed was approximately 8 and 9 mph.

The manufacture of Maytag Racers ended at the end of 1941 when the company had to restructure for war-time production.

Additional information about the Maytag company and its various products, including the Racer, may be found at www.maytagclub.com