Tonka Quickshifter

Service: Corvette Quickshifter

Got a hold of one of these old Tonka Quickshifters the other day, Corvette model, in pretty good condition with the usual wear of paint scratches and small dents, no big deal with these things. Flywheel motor wasn’t working too well, but I could tell all it would really need was a bit of lube and it would be back in normal function.

These old Quickshifters are a pretty solid unit, pressed steel top and chassis with quite a chunky flywheel motor. All that adds up to quite a heavy vehicle for a toy car of this size by todays standards. Which is good and bad, an angry kid hurling this thing across a room could do some serious damage, though the car itself would probably come out ok:) These are a fair bit heavier than the Clutch Popper, which essentially replaced these, improving the motor with the clutch mechanism, and giving them a high density plastic chassis that incorporated the front and back bumper, a natural refinement of the design really. Here’s an example of the size comparison.

Interesting thing with this one is that it has tamperproof (System Zero) screws in the chassis, unusual for a toy car like this I would have thought, and from what I can tell they only did this on a few models so I suspect it was a particular factory quirk as opposed to some kind of design decision. What this means is that it is very unlikely this thing has ever been taken apart, as this is not a common driver bit and without one these types of screws are practically impossible to remove. Luckily I did have one of these driver bits lying around, as luck would have it, as I used one to fix up some old Japanese hifi gear a few years ago, maybe these tamperproof screws were big in Japan in the 70’s? Anyway got the chassis off and disassembled, and all looked pretty good really, as expected just a bit old and dusty and seized up. Dust cover had done a good job protecting the motor, and on these was glued in place. Bit of a clean up and lube and everything was running smoothly again.

Tonka Quickshifter – Corvette – Disassembled

I’m not sure what age group they pitched this at initially, but you need a decent bit of strength and force to really charge this motor up, so I would have thought minimum age 6, and older kids would get more out of it as they would be able to thrash it a bit more:) Bit of car polish on the body shined it up nicely, quite a slick looking piece actually! And I’ve got no problem with it getting a few more scratches from here on in:)

Update: gave this a go and it is very quick if given a long charge, and straight as an arrow, warning – don’t fire it towards anything you don’t want damaged, this thing put a sizable dent in my front door:|

Tonka Quickshifter – Corvette – Post Service
Tonka Quickshifter – Corvette – Rear view
Tonka Quickshifter

Service: Mustang Quickshifter

I spotted one of these old Tonka Quickshifters the other day being sold as a junker (one mans junk is another mans treasure and all that:)). Guy didn’t know (or probably care) what it was, said wheels didn’t move and was very playworn, thought it might have some kind of friction motor but sold as is where is. The description was accurate, but I figured it was worth a crack to clean it up, take a look inside and see if I could sort it out and get it back on the road:p.

These things are all pressed steel, body and chassis, with plastic bumpers and window piece. Here’s a page with a bit of description about them. They are about double the size of a Tonka Clutch Popper, and double the weight. They are seriously durable toys, and this one looked like had been through one hell of a ride over its 43 year life (these were produced in 1977/78), bit of denting and paint damage, the underside scratched up in a big way, bumpers pretty dinged up front and back. Badges of honor:) And yes it did not hardly budge and was pretty seized up. Couple of the original screws had been replaced with different types.

Tonka Quickshifter – Mustang – Disassembled

The dust cover over the motor had been glued in place (not sure whether this was a factory thing or done later), so took a bit to prise it off. Found that the motor all looked fine, and it may have been that the dust cover had remained in place its whole life. The gears were just seized in place. The motor in these Quickshifters is larger than the Clutch Popper, due to the size and weight being significantly more it has a larger and heavier flywheel to drive it. It is not also completely closed off by the steel frame, with the dust cover off you can access the gears directly, which makes adding a bit of lube more straight forward. A bit of CRC in and around the axles, gears and flywheel got thing moving in pretty short order. It was/is totally functional, including it’s “Quickshifting” ability, which is basically the ability to charge the flywheel through one gear transmission line (that spins the flywheel very fast), then when you stop applying forward force, it automatically drops in to a different transmission line (and reduced output) that now engages the flywheel to the rear axle. This design and patent was essentially extended with the Clutch Popper, that enabled you to “hold back” that auto shift to the second transmission line, and instead engage it when you wanted through the push of the button on top.

Tonka Quickshifter – Mustang – Motor

Once it was all cleaned up, this turned out to be a great little (well reasonably big) car that will probably now stay in use for another decade or so with this family, then maybe others after that, who knows, its made it this far!. Not a bad innings for a toy car from ’77.