Tom Wright’s Street-Legal Bumper Cars

Bumper cars were crazy fun when I was a kid.  Even as an adult today, they still look immensely entertaining and I'd probably be on one every weekend if only everyone else lined up to ride them weren't in grade school.  Instead of drawing power from the floor or ceiling like regular flat rides, these bumper cars seen around the San Diego area not only run independently - you can drive them down public roads.

That's right, these bumper cars, which have been reconfigured to run on four wheels, are completely street legal.  Even if they're not, though, I doubt cops will pull you over for a ticket - they'll probably ask to try it for a spin around the block, instead.


Created by California-based builder Tom Wright, the original set of modified bumper cars came from the Long Beach Pike amusement park's discards.  Instead of watching them join the trash heap, he took out the Harley motors, replaced it with 750cc Honda and Kawasaki boxes, and redesigned them to pass city driving standards.  His fleet now consists of eight crazy-looking street bumper cars (culled from different amusement parks), all licensed to give your hottest ride a run for its money.

A couple of the cars can reportedly go up to 160mph, which seems awfully scary for a car with such a short wheelbase.  There's no word on whether he's selling any of these rides, but I doubt he'll have a hard time moving at least a couple hundred of them.  Seriously, who wouldn't want to cruise down the streets on a real bumper car?

Update:  We found some more pics for you on MR38's Flickr Page

Another Update (01/30/2010) : Check out some more info here at Little Guy Street Rods.

[via Jalopy Journal, Jalopnik]

193 Responses

  1. Harry

    Bumper cars shouldn’t be out there on the streets, people would just keep bumping into each other! lol

    • Andrea

      Maybe that’s a great way to keep insurance costs down! Just anticipate that people are going to bump into each other… Drive a bumper car and get reduced insurance rates!

  2. Diana

    Where can I find out how to build these cuties? I live in NV-is someone here doing this??

  3. Kit Foyston

    More vintage than a 57 cheve … great to see true anericana saved and made into a too-cool street mini hot-rods – I want one!

  4. cindy rutherford dmn

    Dear Tom,
    I own a motorcycle shop in San Pedro California and I have a lot of engines that I will give you if you will let me have a ride in one of your cars. email me if you are interested.

  5. Lou

    Please advise if you have any construction diagrams or if you are selling kit or veh. I am retired in NoCal and would love to try construction of one to go with my barstool.

  6. Judy Pine

    Can anyone give me a contact address for Tom. My 26 year old daughter has mild cerebal palsy and will never be able to drive a car and I am looking for something for her to get around long distances by herself. So she can go shopping etc.

  7. bud elmore

    i have been building cars for 30 years and recently got into lawnmower racing which i may take to the next level building and selling them when i first saw your units i was very impressed with detail and design of them!this kind of stuff looks like an kick in pants! after years in suspension builds body restoration motor building etc etc etc i could retire doing this stuff.i have my own shop in anza and if you need something outsourced let me know i can and have built just about everthing except bumper cars let me know hope to here from you…BUD…

  8. Bruce Tawney

    Someone has got to get me information on where I can get one of these. Those are the coolest things I have ever seen.

  9. Deanna

    Is there a annual car show that we could attend to check out these bumper cars in San Diego or elsewhere in California? We’d love to visit in San Diego and check these cars out!!!

  10. Glenn

    How can I get in touch with Tom Wright? I would like to know more about buying one of these as well.

  11. Ken

    Looking for Tom Wright….how did you find the old cars? Any interest in selling one of the original cars? Do you have plans that you would part with? I’d like to build a Harley powered ride.

    Thanks Tom…way cool?

  12. PapaBob Henry

    Hey Tom,
    If you don’t mind sending me a reply,this old retired grandpa would like to build one of those bumper cars for his family and me too of course.Would you be able or willing to share how to do a build etc either free or by a charge which would be fair for your time and “friendship”. If so and I ever got one complete,I would like to come down there (I’m in livermore,Ca.) and do a cruise with your group.I’m a vietNam vet also and would do a theme with the car along those lines. Hope to hear from you either way. Great project you’ve done there. PapaBob Henry

  13. Carol

    I would Love to own one of these… I love cars and there is no way I could ever build one myself. What are great concept. I love them…

  14. Rotten Rodney

    Ya know, the real story is out there, yet here I see one of my own photos ‘pinched’ without permission for the version. How ’bout a link to the real deal? Why not?

    Rotten Rodney
    Editor / Storyteller for BENCHRACE Speed E-zine

  15. Dave Zacharias

    Now this is a GREAT example of thinking outside the box.
    Are there drawings available to build these?
    As an old hotrodder from Canada, I love this kind of stuff!!!


  16. Dodgem - Woodwork Forums

    […] Now here’s the answer to your parking problems Tom Wright’s Street-Legal Bumper Cars | | Anything and Everything Cool __________________ Sometimes, we outgrow the company we keep and have to move on for our […]

  17. marilyn brown

    Hey, my husband is a patternmaker and does dune buggies and old engine parts ( he makes the pattern to have them cast) I would love to have a bumper car please tell me how to acquire one of these to modify myself. Thanks

  18. John

    Are you interested in buying a bumpercar. I have a couple that I would like to sell.

    • Melissa

      I am interested in your bumper cars that are street approved. I live in Dallas Texas, can you send me the information?
      Best Bumper Regards,

  19. JD Stayton

    How much do they cost & how can I get one shipped to Texas ?
    Is there a website to inquire about ?
    Best thing made since sliced bread.

    • scott keller

      awsome! how much$$, for each type? what is it insured and registered as? a golf cart, 4 wheeler, minj car? what in state? what does it use for engine and cc’s, miles pegal, gas milage, topspeed, turn sigs, etc. all specs. reply please. thankx. s.keller,in maine.

  20. San Diego Beach

    I know of a superior body man that took all the top honors in the PT Cruiser world working on something VERY cool…street legal bumpers (like quads I think)…if interested you can shoot me an email and I will try to hook you up.

  21. KS Dallas

    From what I have read in other articles, “Tom” is not the guy’s real name, it is an alias he is using to protect his real identity and he is not selling them.

    Hopefully that will change soon or he will at least sell a kit!!

  22. Leon, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

    Can you send me one (maybe two) to Melbourne, Australia?



  23. Harry

    Too Cool Tom,
    Do you sell these? If so how much, or can you do custom work if I supply the bodies?


  24. Lew Gallo

    I grew up near Coney Island, Brooklyn NY. Bumper cars were a big favorite. I would love to have one while I am still young enough to drive. Hopefully you’ll be able to part with them.

  25. Heidi

    I have had a number of requests to find Tom Wright and I did. Super nice guy but he is not intersted in selling any of those cars. He has had insane amounts of money thrown his way and he has turned them down. If you want to look at them, He will be in Charlotte, North Carolina in August at a show.

  26. Jean

    I am visiting San Diego next week. Is there a showroom address or place I might see some of these great cars?

  27. The Impala Project

    Love it! What a rockin idea Tom! I love the early classic car look. No wonder everyone wants to ride in one. Cars haven’t had this much style in decades.


  28. Larry Lowe

    I recieved an email from someone showing these bumper cars and the man that fixed them up lived around Long Beach, Calif. I was stationed there in 1957-58 and used to ride in these contraptions. They look better than a new cadillac now that they have been remodeled. NICE!!.

    My two cents worth…….Larry L.


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