1936 Wolverine, The Mystery Car in Original Box

1936 Wolverine, The Mystery Car in Original Box

Throughout its 67 year history the Wolverine Supply & Mfg. Co., produced some of the highest quality pressed steel toys. In terms of design, their streamlined 1936 "The Mystery Car" clockwork coupe rates as one of the most elegant vehicles produced by any American toy manufacturer.

Apparently Louis Marx & Co. thought the same thing when they produced their U.K. versions of the "Marx U-Drive-It Car" and the "Marx Reversible Coupe". The body of all three vehicles are identical (see photos). 

This example of Wolverine's Mystery Car is unquestionably the highest grade I've seen for this toy. Its mint green metallic surface with brass plated underside, and silver painted wooden tires are in amazing near mint condition. It comes complete with its art deco illustrated original box. More than likely there are other boxes out there, but this is the first one I've ever found.

The mystery behind the Mystery Car is, "what makes it run"? That question is even printed on the box. The auto is one of the earliest Wolverine vehicles powered by a self-winding clockwork motor. Pressing down hard on the rear trunk winds the motor. Releasing it lets it unwind. Unfortunately the clever "mystery" design was also its greatest flaw. All it would take is one strong press and the toy could be damaged beyond repair. Dented roof and trunk, split rear wheels, bent rear axle, and scuffed running boards are the "norm" rather than the exception. For these reasons I did not run the car, but when pressed down the wheels still easily wound the motor.

The actual styling is pure Art Deco with long sleek body lines delineating the doors, hood, streamlined front hood louvers, tail  lights, hood divider, running boards and grille. It has an embossed rounded front grille, head light and front bumper assembly which crests at the center like a "V-shaped" arrow head. Each hood side has 10 louvers. The doors have handles which "pull open" from front to rear with the "Mystery Car" logo lithoed on both sides. The fenders and running boards are separately tabbed to the chassis. The rear trunk mounted spare tire is embossed and the luggage rack, which  is actually part of the chassis, has checkerboard grillwork lithoed onto it.

The magenta colored box features an awesome front panel illustration of the sleek Mystery Car speeding through the top circular portion of a large three dimensional question mark. The Mystery Car name was printed in jagged, cryptic type. It's no winding, no battery, no key "advantages" are listed to the left above a smaller question mark. The two side panels repeat the illustration with less text. "Directions For Operating" were printed on the bottom. The endflaps, repeat the large question mark and jagged text. 

Size: 13" x 4½" x 4½".

Sold: Dec. 2006

Price Sold: $ 367


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