A fine example of the last of the Dooling Mercury series of cars. It was made in the autumn of 1940 and was known as the Front Drive, or Second Series Front Drive. The body is a one piece aluminium casting with a separate enclosed cast motor mount/drive unit and the bonnet is formed from a curved sheet of aluminium.
Dimensions: 43.25 cm/17 inches (length) x 20 cm/8 inches (width) x 14.5 cm/53⁄4 inches (height).
The Dooling Brothers of California are arguably the most well known of the American tether car builders. Tom, Russell, and Harris Dooling began building racers in 1937 for their own pleasure. These early crude, buggy-type creations, powered by model airplane motors, nurtured what would become a thriving business beginning in 1939.
The Doolings’ began commercial production with the Mercury Midget, also known as the First Series Front Drive, in 1939. The design was modelled after the full size midget race cars that were popular in the US from the 1930's on.
The Midget was followed by the Mercury Deluxe or Rear Drive in late 1939. The Streamliner, or Frog, was also released in 1939. Then In 1940 the last of the Mercury cars, the Second Series Front Drive and the smaller sized Pee Wee were introduced. After the War in 1946, the F car was put into production. The final production Dooling car was the Arrow, which came on the market in the Spring of 1948.
Competitions between model race cars powered by miniature combustion engines started in California in the 1930s. Whilst ’tether’ cars were raced individually against the clock on circular tracks, tethered to a central pivot, other types of car raced against each other on specially constructed wooden tracks. Guides on the base of the cars fitted onto the metal rails mounted to the track surface. Rail racing enabled more than one car to be on the track at the same time, which added more fun for the spectators, and the winner was the first car to cross the line once they had completed a set number of laps. Once the race is over, the cars are typically stopped by a 'kill switch' that extends from the car so it can be triggered as the car passes by; the owner using a pole, broom or rag to activate the switch. Alternatively the car is simply allowed to run until it is out of fuel.
Early engines (prior to the 1950s) had spark ignition systems, using miniature spark plugs. Later engines use glow plug ignition. A Glow Plug engine, or Glow engine, is a type of small internal combustion engine typically used in model aircraft, model cars and similar applications. Glow engine fuel generally consists of methanol with varying degrees of nitromethane content.