Ruslan Kuchmenov has an unusual hobby and it's getting him a lot of attention. The 56-year old Russian has a passion for restoring pedal cars, and he is extremely talented.
Pedal cars are small pedal-powered cars for children that were extremely popular in the 1920’s and 30’s. The first pedal cars were literally children sized models of real production cars and were a common children's item in the 1890’s. However as their cost of production increased at the turn of the century, pedal cars were only a play item for the extremely wealthy.
The cars were often made at the same place as automotive manufacturers though they didn’t tend to be exact replicas anymore. In the 1940’s production of the cars ceased entirely as all extra metal was diverted into the war effort. After the war, pedal cars popularity once again rose and in the 1950’s and 60’s pedal cars were the ultimate toy for kids around the world.
The cars were designed to mimic the popular cars on the roads, being produced in the same colors and with matching decals and speed stripes. The best pedal cars featured working lights and horns, moveable windshields and ragtops, chrome detailing and hood ornaments, and white wall tires and custom paint jobs.
Kuchmenov finds these old pedal cars in almost any condition and magically restores them to their former glory. He documents his work on his blog, going into detail on each model of pedal car he is working on. Each car he finds requires a huge amount of work from sourcing accessories like lights and bumpers to the final pristine paint jobs.
Some of the most stunning examples that he has completed are pedal cars produced by the car manufacture Moskvich. Moskvich produced cars in Soviet/Russian car maker from 1946-1991. The first car the brand produced was a modified version of the Opel Kadett. The Soviet Union purchased a manufacturing line from the German city of Brandenburg and started to produce the new car under the name Moskvich-400 in December 1946. Once the factory got the hang of production it designed it down vehicles and began to manufacture them in the 1950’s. The models produced in this time included the Moskvich-402–407 and 410, then by the more advanced Moskvich 408, 412 and 2140. The M-407 was successfully exported to the West, but almost half of the cars produced ended up in Eastern Bloc countries. The car proved popular in France, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the UK, and France.
The Moskvich pedal cars that Kuchmenov has restored are quite rare and fetch incredible prices. Pre-restored vehicles are being offered on eBay for $1000- $2000 USD. The cars are undeniable works of beauty though. In fact, they are now often considered works of art and are featured as such in the Retro Museum of Socialism in Varna, Bulgaria, The Russian Oldtimer Museum, Russia. and even the American Museum of Automotive Speed in the U.S.