Taking Flight, Radio Flyer Wagon Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary

radio flyer wagon and baby girl bwThe Radio Flyer Wagon is nostalgia and good for the soul. Who doesn’t bond with Ralphie Parker from the movie “A Christmas Story” in wanting a Daisy© Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas? And how about childhood memories of having a red Radio Flyer© wagon? Those wagons took a beating and were often handed down to younger cousins or nephews.

We hate to break it to you but the Radio Flyer wagon is 100 years old this year. And you might not know what easily recognized product the company made for the war effort during World War II.

Antonio Pasin came to America in 1914 and made phonograph cabinets. In 1917, he branched out and started making wooden wagons by hand. The business grew and he founded the Liberty Coaster Wagon Company in 1923. Pasin offered several designs and co-opted the assembly line from Henry Ford to maintain quality and keep prices down.

classic radio flyer red wagonPasin started to offer metal wagons in the 30’s, renaming the company Radio Steel and Manufacturing. He labeled his wagon’s “Radio Flyer” after his love for both radios and flying. His metalwork experience came in handy as he ceased all wagon production during the war.

Instead, Pasin and his employees made the jerrycan. Those steel five-gallon gas containers (made by several companies) were mounted on all sorts of military vehicles and offered an extended range with the extra gasoline.

radio flyer town and country wagonAfter the war, production resumed. The wagons were linked with popular television shows like the Mickey Mouse Club and Davy Crockett. The 60s offered up the classic Town & Country model with the wood base and stake sides. Finally, in 1987 the company changed their name formally to Radio Flyer, Inc., but is still family owned with the third generation of the Pasin family in charge.

In 1994, the company offered up their first plastic wagon. Over the years, the company has innovated new designs and concepts to the basic red wagon. They even offer a ride-on toy based on the Tesla Model S using lithium ion batteries. The company always offers up new toys for children, but at its heart, the little red wagon is still the champ.

Image source: Radio Flyer and Wikipedia Commons

Mark C. Bach is a well preserved automotive junkie, due to the Arizona dry heat. He loves anything that moves and is especially fond of muscle cars and classics.