Bumper car

Bumper car
Bumper Car at a small town fair
A ride in a bumper car, short video clip

Bumper car is the generic name for a type of flat ride consisting of several small electric cars which draw power from the floor and/or ceiling, and which are turned on and off remotely by an operator[citation needed]. They are also known as dashing cars, dodgem cars, or simply dodgems, the last name being the usual term in British English.

The inventor was Victor Levand, who worked for G.E.



Power is commonly supplied by one of two methods:

  • The oldest and most common method uses a conductive floor and ceiling, each with a separate power polarity. Contacts under the vehicle touch the floor while a pole mounted contact touches the ceiling, forming a complete circuit.
  • A newer method uses alternating strips of metal across the floor separated by insulating spacers, and no ceiling grid. The alternating strips carry the supply current, and the bumper cars are large enough so that the vehicle body can always cover at least two strips at any one time. An array of brushes under the car make random contact with whatever strip is below, and the voltage polarity on each contact is sorted out to always provide a correct and complete circuit to operate the vehicle.

The metal floor is usually set up as a rectangular or oval track, and graphite is sprinkled on the floor to decrease friction.[citation needed] A rubber bumper surrounds each vehicle, and drivers ram each other as they travel. The controls are usually an accelerator and a steering wheel. The car can be made to go backwards by turning the steering wheel far enough in either direction, necessary in the frequent pile-ups that occur. Most carnivals and amusement parks require riders to be at least 42 inches or taller to ride and 52 inches (1.3 m) or taller to drive the cars.[citation needed]

Although the idea of the ride is to bump other cars, safety-conscious (or at least litigation-conscious) owners often put up signs reading "This way around" and "No bumping." Depending on the level of enforcement by operators, these rules are often ignored by bumper car riders, especially younger children.

During their heyday (in the late 1920s through 1950s), the two major bumper car brands were Dodgem and the Lusse Brothers' Auto-Skooter. In the mid 1960s, Disneyland introduced hovercraft-based bumper cars called "The Flying Saucers", which worked on the same principle as an air hockey game; however the ride was a mechanical failure and closed after a few years.

The current largest bumper car floor is located at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, and is called the Rue Le Dodge (Rue Le Morgue during October for Fright Fest). The ride is 51 feet (16 m), 9 inches by 124 feet 9 inches (38.02 m) or a total of 6,455 square feet (599.7 m2). A replica of the ride was built at California's Great America in Santa Clara, CA; in 2005, however, a concrete island was added to the middle of the floor to promote one-way traffic, reducing the floor area and restoring Rue Le Dodge at Six Flags Great America's largest floor title.


See also



External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • bumper car — bumper cars N COUNT A bumper car is a small electric car with a wide rubber bumper all round. People drive bumper cars around a special enclosure at a fairground …   English dictionary

  • bumper car — n a small electric car that you drive in a special area at a ↑funfair and deliberately try to hit other cars →↑dodgems …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • bumper car — bumper ,car noun count a small electric car for one or two people that you drive around a special area at an AMUSEMENT PARK and try to hit other cars …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • bumper car — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms bumper car : singular bumper car plural bumper cars a dodgem car …   English dictionary

  • bumper car — noun a small low powered electrically powered vehicle driven on a special platform where there are many others to be dodged • Syn: ↑Dodgem • Hypernyms: ↑vehicle * * * noun, pl ⋯ cars [count] chiefly US : a small electric car that you drive around …   Useful english dictionary

  • bumper car — (in an amusement park) a small, carlike electric vehicle with an encircling rubber bumper that one maneuvers around an enclosed arena while purposely bumping other vehicles. [1945 50] * * * …   Universalium

  • bumper car — noun A small electric powered vehicle encircled with rubber bumper, used in an amusement ride. Syn: dodgem …   Wiktionary

  • bumper car — noun Date: 1959 a small electric car made to be driven around in an enclosure and to be bumped into others (as at an amusement park) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • bumper car — noun (C) a small electric car that you drive in a special area at a funfair and deliberately try to hit other cars …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • bumper car — bump′er car n. (in an amusement park) a small electric vehicle with thick rubber bumpers that one maneuvers around an arena while purposely bumping other vehicles • Etymology: 1945–50 …   From formal English to slang

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