Auburn, Indiana Resident Creates Classic Pedal Cars

If you enjoy history and cars, chances are you would not hesitate at the opportunity to get an up-close view of Gary Cooper or Clark Gable’s SSJ Duesenbergs or perhaps a 1937 Auburn or maybe an Original Duesenberg Race Car.

The likelihood of such an occurrence is slim, but being able to get up close to a miniature version is not so improbable.

Pedal Cars, which date back to the 1890’s, were created, even back then, to be modeled after the real cars on the road. Nowadays, one Auburn, Indiana native continues to design and create pedal cars, modeled after some of the most incredible classic vehicles ever made.


Dettmer, the mastermind behind a very well-crafted pedal car collection, has quite the assortment of models, including the ones mentioned in the first paragraph above, as well as a 1960 Jolly Rodgers Pedal Boat (Restored), 1929 Phaeton Duel Cowl Duesenberg and more.


Dettmer got started on this ingenious and wildly creative hobby like most individuals who put time and effort into something: because they enjoy it. He said, “I’ve always liked pedal cars. I had one growing up, but I am not sure what happened to it.”


It wasn’t until he purchased a pedal car from a Kruse Auction many years ago, that he had a moment of sudden realization and decided he could make pedal cars himself, not just collect them, with some help from the right people.

He then made contact with a restoration business in Northern Indiana. Their collaboration consisted of Dettmer designing and gathering parts by studying photos of the original vehicles, and the restoration business building and constructing the cars using die cast models. The first pedal car they made was a Lincoln, which was later sold. Dettmer said it takes about 5 months to create each pedal car from start to finish, and though a lot of detail goes into their creations, they never fail to include pedals in each model. After all, pedal cars have their name for a reason!

Today, he has ten of these pieces of work in the National Auto & Truck Museum, in Auburn, Indiana, most of which are predominately modeled after original vehicles themselves. His newest creation, with the restoration business, is a 1930’s Model J Duesenberg, with a rumble seat. Dettmer said it is his favorite pedal car so far. The deciding factor in his choice was the rumble seat, as he has always wanted to build a pedal car with one!


Though he is strictly building these pedal cars for his own collection now, Dettmer has sold a handful throughout the years. As of today, one of his spectacular creations, an 851 Auburn, calls Honolulu, Hawaii home. In the opposite direction, another pedal car by Dettmer, an 812 Cord, is currently in the Budget Inn Main Office located in New York City.

Don’t miss out on seeing these incredible pieces of work in person! The dedication and craftsmanship shines through on each pedal car, making them not only the finest substitute to the original vehicle, but exceptional cars all on their own!

Plan a visit to the National Auto & Truck Museum soon to see this amazing pedal car collection The museum is opened daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Head to our website,, for information on the nine museums in Dekalb County and upcoming events. Also, don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!



About Visit DeKalb County

Welcome to the official blog of the DeKalb County Visitors Bureau. Nestled in the North East Corner of Indiana are ten communities that all share a common bond. And that bond is DeKalb County. Our job at the DeKalb County Visitors Bureau is to showcase all of the experiences the county has to offer and one of the many ways we do that is by blogging. Each of our blogs tells a different story of DeKalb County and we hope that by sharing these stories and events it will encourage people from all over the world to visit the place we call home.
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