What Kind of Car is the Monopoly Car?

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The Monopoly car is one of the most popular Monopoly tokens and one that many players find themselves fighting over. But what kind of car is the Monopoly car?

Monopoly car

Classic car experts have several theories as to the make and model of the Monopoly car. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at five car models that are claimed to be the inspiration behind the Monopoly car token.

Possible Models of Monopoly Car:

  1. 1928 Harley JDH Midget Car
  2. Roger Wolfe Kahn’s Custom-Made Roadster
  3. 1930s Roadster
  4. 1940s Kurtis Kraft Midget Racer
  5. 1934 Mercedes Grand Prix W25

The History Of the Monopoly Car Token

The race car token was not one of the original six Monopoly pieces created in 1935. The car was actually the seventh token which was added later that same year.

In 1940, the Monopoly race car was replaced with a ‘car with driver’ token. However, in 1950, this token was removed and replaced with the original driverless race car piece.

Over the years, there have been a few different designs of the Monopoly car, as you can see from this collection of tokens…

Monopoly car tokens
Photo credit: cdbpdx.com

Other Monopoly car tokens have appeared in special editions of Monopoly, such as the red plastic car in Monopoly Electronic Banking and a Toyota Prius in Monopoly Here and Now.

Red plastic sports car Monopoly token
Red plastic sports car token

This article is concerned with the original Monopoly car which still exists in Classic Monopoly today. Because nobody liked those other car tokens anyway.

Possible Models Of The Monopoly Car

Over the years, several car experts have claimed that they know the model of the Monopoly car. One even claims to possess the original car that inspired the playing piece!

So, let’s take a look at the reasoning behind the various Monopoly car model explanations…

1. 1928 Harley JDH Midget Car

The Wheels Through Time museum in North Carolina claims to have the original, real Monopoly car.

This unique car was built for and owned by Otto Kahn, a well-known and wealthy investment banker some believe was the inspiration behind the Monopoly Man, Rich Uncle Pennybags.

Otto Kahn
Otto Kahn

It’s claimed that the similarity between this car and the Monopoly race car, as well as the similarities in the appearance of Kahn and Mr. Monopoly, are too much to be purely coincidental.

Take a look at this video of the car which is claimed to be the real Monopoly car…

However, former Parker Brothers VP Phil Orbaines claimed that Mr. Monopoly was actually inspired by businessman J.P. Morgan, not Otto Kahn. If this is true, the custom-made original Monopoly car could be a red herring.

2. Roger Wolfe Kahn’s Custom-Made Roadster

Otto Kahn died in March 1934 – before the first Monopoly board was sold in 1935. He did not drive, although he did have many full-time chauffeurs.

However, Otto Kahn’s son, Roger Wolfe Kahn, had numerous vehicles including a custom-made roadster. Given the timing Roger would have has more connection with the Monopoly car than his late father.

Roger’s roadster was well-documented at the time and according to the book The Khans of Fifth Avenue, at least one copy was privately manufactured.

You can see a photo this car (or one very similar to it) here.

3. 1930s Roadster

According to a statement from Hasbro in 2002, the Monopoly car was a 1930s roadster…

“In 1937 Parker Brothers, determined to preserve the game’s tradition, decided to produce die-cast metal tokens that were reminiscent of objects found in households across America. This decision marked the introduction of the flatiron, purse, lantern, car, thimble, shoe, top hat, and the rocking horse. The top hat was modeled after the chapeau of the game’s Chairman of the Board, Mr. Monopoly, and the car, his 1930s roadster.”


However, upon closer inspection, it’s clear that the Monopoly car looks nothing like a 1930s roadster. These iconic cars were much larger than the Monopoly car, with headlights, a bumper, and space for a passenger.

1930 Model A Ford Standard Roadster
1930 Model A Ford Standard Roadster
Photo credit: Boats-n-Cars

Perhaps the Hasbro public relations department was mistaken when they released this statement.

4. 1940s Kurtis Kraft Midget Racer

Going off its appearance, the Monopoly car looks virtually identical to a 1940s midget race car. Midget cars are a class of racing cars with a very high power-to-weight ratio. They originated in the United States in the 1930s.

According to the experts at car website Jalopnik.com, the Monopoly car is modeled on a 1940s-era Kurtis Kraft Midget race car. It has the same rounded hood, vertical-slat grille, open wheels, tapered headrest, and rounded rear end.

1940s Kurtis Kraft Midget Racer
1949 Kurtis Kraft Midget Racer
Photo credit: Jack Snell

However, one glaring flaw with this claim is that the Monopoly race car token was introduced in 1935, several years before the Kurtis Kraft company was founded.

5. 1934 Mercedes Grand Prix W25

Another theory is that the Monopoly car is a Mercedes Grand Prix W25. This particular race car was designed for the 1934 Grand Prix season.

This would certainly fit in with the timing of the Monopoly car token being introduced a year later in 1935.

1934 Mercedes-Benz W25
1934 Mercedes-Benz W25
Photo credit: Brian Snelson, CC BY 2.0

The Mercedes Grand Prix W25 also bears a striking resemblance to the Monopoly car, with identical side vents, raised headrest, and curved body.

So, what model is the Monopoly car?

Nobody knows for sure what model of car the Monopoly car was based on. The car looks most similar to a 1934 Mercedes Grand Prix W25, although others have claimed that it is a 1928 Harley JDH Midget Car or a 1940s Kurtis Kraft Midget Car.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that the token design wasn’t an exact copy of any particular car. It could have just been based on the general appearance of the race cars of that era.

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Jenni Fielding

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Monopoly Land - an unofficial fan site. She has been a huge fan of Monopoly and has been playing the game for over 30 years. She is a stickler for the rules and loves to find vintage Monopoly sets in second-hand shops.