1954 Marx Automatic Car Wash Garage in Original Box

1954 Marx Automatic Car Wash Garage in Original Box

One of the most unusual Marx toys I've ever found is this amazing mechanical Automatic Car Wash Garage by Marx. It contains a combination car wash and garage equipped with swinging doors front and rear. It also includes a very different type of mechanical cab. The toy has never been used and in NM+/Mint condition. It comes complete with the original box.

This unique toy is really different from anything else I've seen. It was designed with the ability to automatically enter, exit and reenter a building over and over. No other vehicle that I'm aware of will automatically reenter a building once it has left. It was originally available only as a Sears Roebuck catalog exclusive for one year and then discontinued.

The car is a beautifully lithographed steel plate Studebaker taxi with a long running clockwork motor. It has an embossed taxi light on the roof, an extensively detailed undercarriage, and perspective illustrations of the driver and passengers in every window.

It's mechanical prowess to reenter buildings was very cleverly engineered. When you turn it upside down you'll see it has three, not four tires. Each one is different. The left rear has a hard rubber rim to grip the running surface. The right rear tire is made of styrene plastic so that it purposefully looses traction. Up front is a single rubber tire which can pivot 180° on an upright axle through a cut-out in the cars chassis. It too provides traction, but not as much as the hard rubber rear. The materials and design of the three different tires keeps it moving constantly to the right. 

Protruding from the car's right rear fender is a ½" long bullet-shaped lead stud (see photo's). The stud is stationary, it doesn't turn and it's not magnetized. Wind the car up and place it so that the stud comes into contact with the left exterior wall of the garage. Then let go! It'll run alongside of the building without veering off. It'll then turn to the right, push open the front swinging doors and enter the garage. It'll continue to run alongside the right interior wall until it exits the garage through the rear swinging doors. It'll then turn once more to the right and run along the side of the building.

All the while the lead stud stays in constant contact with the steel litho building. It'll repeat this over and over. Lead was used for the stud because of its lower resistance to friction. Also, half of the garage roof was cut away and covered with transparent styrene plastic so you can see the car as it passes through the inside of the building. Put it all together and you have one amazing toy!

The directions are printed directly on the box, but I won't test it. It would take only one run to skid along the metal wall leaving a wide scratch, both inside and out. The motor works well and that's good enough for me.

Three years prior to the release of this toy Marx produced a "tricky" Learn To Drive Car. It's identical in size, shape, and construction to the automatic taxi except that the pivoting front wheel replaced a wide, angled toothed gear and the stud was inserted. The Learn to Drive Car was discontinued the same year that the Automatic taxi was introduced. It was not remanufactured until after the taxi was discontinued. The whole thing sold for $1.92.

The lithography on the steel plate garage, or Lubritorium, is as extensive as the car. Turn it one way and it's the Mid-Town Garage. Turn it the other and it's the Minit Car Wash. Inside the building one wall shows two men washing cars and working the plumbing. The opposite wall shows the garage side with a serviceman changing an engine. The realistic lithography may have gone too far when a "typical" garage nudie calendar was included on the inside wall (see photo).

The four color box has an unusual cover illustration for a children's toy. It shows a car exiting the wash. Several attendants dry the vehicle, however one of them is more interested in the car's owner than the car. The back panel has a schematic set of illustrated instructions along with graphics showing the car entering and exiting the garage. The name of the toy, manufacturer name and address, and logo were attractively printed on both side panels. 

Size: Building 9" x 6" x 3". Car 6½" x 2¾" (not including the stud). 

Sold: Jan. 2007

Price Sold: $ 701


Send Comments

Email Address:
Confirm Email Address:
Subject: 1954 Marx Automatic Car Wash Garage in Original Box

security code