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Vintage Flashback:: Big Wheels Keep On Burning!

Oh, the Big Wheel.

Image via The Cabin.

Do you remember that very specific gritty sound it made while your rode it? Plastic meeting concrete? So wonderful.

Even more awesome than an Eames Chair.

I remember seeing mine under our glorious snow-flocked Christmas tree gleaming in the California winter sun.  I almost swooned with joy.  I know this girl’s unbridled joy.

Image via: melinnis.

If you think about toys from the seventies, I bet the Big Wheel comes to mind pretty quickly. As it should. It seems to always be in the background of many a photo taken during that time period.

Image via: The Season of Plums and Cobblestones.

Heck, it was even featured in The Shining as the kid’s favorite mode of transportation around the hotel. Perhaps the twin girls wanted to take a ride?

Really, who could resist the wonders of the Big Wheel? Not even CAPTAIN CRUNCH!

Introduced by the Marx company in 1969, the Big Wheel became hugely popular in the U.S. partly because of its low cost to make and secondly because consumer groups said it was a safer alternative to the traditional tricycles of bikes since it was so low to the ground.

Image via: Deco Dog.

And thirdly, there were so many version you could buy!

(note the little seat up front, so your Barbie could roll in style with you…)

Oh, and don’t worry, they did have one for you Qbert fans out there. All four of you.

Images via: Original Big Wheel, Muppet Wikia, and Val*Jean.

Yes, you can buy a big wheel now for your kiddo.  But for the young at heart, there is BYOBW—Bring your own Big Wheel race down the world’s most crooked street in San Francisco. And it looks to be one part spectacular and one part terrifying.


But next year, I’m going!

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Posted in Best of Dottie, Vintage Toys + Fun Stuff.

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16 Responses

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  1. lishyloo says


  2. Eartha Kitsch says

    Wow! I never got a Big Wheel but sure did want one! They should make adult sized ones. I’d be the terror of my street. That race looks both amazing and terrifying.

    • Alix says

      Love the idea of you as the terror of your street!!! hee

  3. John says

    It was the Schwinn of its day for the toddler set. Remember it well!

  4. Kristi says

    I have fond memories of riding up and down the street in my Chips big wheel.

    • Dottie says

      As if I didn’t worship you enough already–you had the CHIPS one. Lady, I’m in awe!

  5. amanda (kyssa vintage) says

    Dottie I love this! I used to have a Cabbage Patch Big Wheel, with a basket on the back to put my Cabbage Patch doll in. So fun.

  6. jeannie says

    we used to turn ours upside down and sit on it and spin the wheel and say we were making ice cream. i thought this was weird until I met someone recently who told me they used to do the same thing.

    • Dottie says

      To be honest, that does sound vaguely familiar. I do remember my Big Wheel being upside down and getting tremendous joy out of just spinning the wheel.

  7. Virginie says

    the mister T one is THE best thing EVER. i have been looking everywhere for a big wheel for my boy, fingers crossed!

  8. Craftwhack says

    Oh, man! I wanted a big wheel. I think I’ll have t get one for my son in a couple years. These are awesome photos.

    • Peggy says

      The Big Wheel was well used at our house. When one of the kids got off, another got on.

  9. Cindy A. says

    Do I also spy a Green Machine in the fourth photo? Unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough to own a Green Machine but I did have a Big Wheel and the most amazing foot powered motorcycle on the block. It was black and gray plastic with Big Wheel-esque pedals and a working horn. Dang… I wish I still had that thing. *beep beep*

Continuing the Discussion

  1. It Was a Wonderful Year in Vintage: Part 3 – Modern Kiddo linked to this post on February 12, 2012

    […] If you had a Big Wheel back in the day, then you had one of the sweetest rides around! I have to say, they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Check out these cool kiddos over here. […]

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