1936 Marx, U-Drive-It Car (U.K. version) in Original Box

1936 Marx, U-Drive-It Car (U.K. version) in Original Box

Every so often I'll find a toy that's a complete enigma. This brilliant red steel litho coupe with clockwork motor is just such a toy. It was manufactured by the English division of the Louis Marx company which was located in Dudley, Worchester County, England. It was called the U-Drive-It Car aptly named for the ability to steer it with an attached cord. It's unmarked and is virtually unidentifiable without having the original box, which this does have. 

There are two curious things about this car. First, Marx manufactured a U.S. version with a nearly identical name that had string steering called the Driv-UR-Self Car. That's where the similarities end. The U.S. toy was 3" longer, lower, and more streamlined than the U.K. automobile. I've provided a photo for comparison.

Second, and even more puzzling was the actual design of the U.K. version. It is identical in size, shape, and style with another U.S. competitor's product; the Wolverine Mfg. Mystery Car.  

And lastly, Marx U.K. produced yet another version called the Marx Reversible Couple. Again, Marx produced a U.S. version using the same streamlined body as their Driv-UR-Self Car. I can understand a variation within the same company, but before I found this car I never realized that Marx and Wolverine used the exact same body style to produce one of their best selling toys. I wonder if both company's were aware of this. All three toys were produced in 1936. I've provided a comparison of the two Marx U.K. toys and the U.S. Wolverine Mystery Car at the bottom of these photo's. The U.K. versions of the U-Drive-It Car and Reversible Coupe are the only examples I've seen. 

The Marx U.K., U-Drive-It Car comes complete with its original box. The toy is lithographed pressed steel with a clockwork motor. It has an on/off switch protruding from the left rear trunk. The styling is pure Art Deco with long sleek body lines delineating the doors, hood, and rumble seat. It has a rounded front grille, head light and front bumper assembly with embossed vertical lines. Each hood side has 10 louvers. The door handles "pull open" from the front to rear. The rear trunk mounted spare tire is embossed. The luggage rack is actually part of the chassis. The fenders and running boards are separately tabbed to the chassis. Wheels are two pressed steel disks. 

The self driving properties of the toy are actually an exaggeration. Although the diagrams on the side of the box make it look like you're walking a dog, tying a string to any self moving toy auto and pulling it left or right will effectively "steer" it. The illustration shows the cord tied to the top of the roof. However, it's actually tied through the rear window and to a hole in the chassis floor. Tying it to the roof may have looked better, but it did not accurate depict the toy. Both the cord and wooden pull bead have been replaced. The key which was found with the car is the exact same style used to wind Marx mechanical O-gauge trains of the same era. 

The awesome box features a terrific full panel illustration of the coupe whizzing around a corner under the control of a young lad. The sides panels show several schematic directions for steering the car to the left, right, and straight. The endflaps include the auto name, catalog number, Marx motto, and the early pre-War Marx logo. The box is complete with all eight original endflaps. 

Size: 13" long x 4½" wide.

Sold: Nov. 2006

Price Sold: $ 355


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Subject: 1936 Marx, U-Drive-It Car (U.K. version) in Original Box

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