Life-size Monopoly car can pass Go! at 17 mph
“I get the car!”
Generations of Monopoly enthusiasts have played the “game before the game”—the race to claim your favorite playing piece before someone else does. And if you’re a car lover in a room chock full of other car lovers, it’s important to have a Plan B … or C … “OK, fine, I’ll take the dog. Or the top hat.”
Considering Monopoly is arguably the most famous board game ever produced, it’s no wonder that attendees at last month’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance flocked to a life-size replica of the Monopoly car and voted it as the People’s Choice Award winner.
“It’s just amazing how powerfully influential that game is,” says Jeff Lane, who showed the small, open-wheel vehicle from his unique collection at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville. “The car just keeps those good memories of our youth alive.”
Monopoly, patented by Parker Brothers in 1935, didn’t come with player tokens in its original form, as players were encouraged to use household items, like buttons or coins, as markers. Soon, however, the first six cast-zinc player tokens were issued: a top hat, thimble, iron, boot, battleship, and cannon. The car, based on a 1930s roadster, was added shortly thereafter. It quickly moved to the front of the line.
In the eight-plus decades since Monopoly was created, it has been translated into 37 languages, exists in hundreds of licensed versions, and has sold more than 250 million copies. And while many of the playing pieces have changed over the years, according to a poll the car is the most popular playing piece.
The life-sized 2009 Monopoly Speedster is built on a modified golf cart chassis with a 48-volt electric motor that generates 3.5 horsepower and propels the vehicle to a top speed of 17 mph. Its hand-molded fiberglass body contains all the important details from the game piece, including its long nose, rounded hood, and grille with vertical slats.
The car was created by Biscuit Filmworks, a London- and Los Angeles-based commercial production company, for a 2009 AT&T commercial. Following the shoot, the Speedster was given to Darren Wright, who worked for the ad agency that wrote and developed the commercial. In December 2020, Wright donated the car to the Lane Motor Museum, and it became a perfect addition to Lane’s stockpile of oddball vehicles.
Although the car is fun to look at, Lane says trying to maneuver it—with its large center-mounted steering wheel and stationary bench seat—isn’t exactly enjoyable.
“It’s very slow and clunky, and the turning radius is horrible,” he says. “You have to really sit up to see over the dash. It’s not a great car to drive at all.”
Especially if you land on Boardwalk or Park Place and they belong to someone else.