My son is a driving machine! He is 10 years old and started with Power Wheels at age 3. He “cut his teeth on the typical electric ride toy, learning to steer, stop and reverse. (it was a Francesco Bernoulli 6 volt Power Wheel)
If you are not familiar with Power Wheels, here is a picture you may be all familiar with:
Now you might be saying to yourself “Mirrae, why are you showing a Barbie Jeep picture for a boy?” Well, it would not be my style without adding a little financial wisdom along this fun video project he embarked upon. If you want to skip down to the video he made its at the bottom. Golf Cart Ride to the Woods.
Frugal Frugal or Wise Old Owl
Power Wheels are not inexpensive, they range from $250 to $450 depending on the model. If you have read my blog, I am all about low impact and financial prudence. (I'm frugal, however I like to think of it as fiscally responsible). If you look at sites like Craigslist or Offer Up however; you can find these Jeeps slightly used to almost new for very low costs. We actually found a family that was moving to another state and wanted to sell there little girls Pink Barbie Jeep as they had no room to take it with them. It was literally new and barely used for $40. You can't get a better deal than that, 10% of the retail costs at typical retail store!
I snapped it up, but I couldn't damage the manhood of my son, so I purchased a can of blue and black spray paint and went to work. He loved it. But I didn't stop there! Power Wheels have a safety mechanism witch limits the speed to about 2.5 mph and boy is that slow. If you remove a single screw that stops the lever you can have 2 speeds:
Slow —> 2.5 mph
Fast —> 5 mph
That worked well but not for long. after a few months the spark of driving the Jeep was gone. Not much you can do with a 5 mph toy Jeep. How many people spent $400 on this toy and there kids got board with it quickly!
My mind was on overdrive (pun intended), how can we make this thing faster?
Power Wheels have a standard 12 volt battery they use, if you give more voltage to the motors, this thing can go fast ... sure lets try it! So we got an extra 6 volt battery and after doing some wiring work, we had this thing wired up in series putting out 18 volts! The spark (pun intended) was bigger and better and now my sons eyes were back to that kind of look before an adventure.
This thing is fast, so fast he can turn on a dime, peel out, and drift! I had to actually look that term (drifting) up, but apparently its a popular thing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drifting_(motorsport)
You would think that that is now the pinnacle of the toy Jeep. But not so fast there cowboy, there is more...
The neighbor was so impressed, they got a used Cadillac Escalade Power Wheel, now those are even more expensive and bigger than the Barbie Jeep. However the neighbor's Power Wheel gears broke after a few months of use and they were going to throw it out. I said “no don't do that lets take it apart for spares”.
Putting 18 volts in a Blue/Black painted Barbie Jeep really takes its toll on the plastic wheels which get tore up pretty quick. In fact, we started looking for another $40 deal to get the wheels only. Try ordering a replacement wheel from power Wheels, the cost would shock you! So we got that thing apart (well the boys took it apart) and we replaced the original Barbie Jeep wheels with the Cadillac Escalade wheels. Talk about a “laugh out loud” moment, the Barbie Jeep now looked like a “pimped out ride”! And if you go into the physics of wheel diameter and the travel time to do one circulation, now the Barbie Jeep was even faster! And those wheels didn't last too long either. Now we have a mix of original front wheels, a spare mounted on the back and Cadillac Escalade rear wheels for extra speed. This thing is amazing and the kids have never got tired of it.
FYI - we tried 24 volts, but that burns up the wires so don't try this at home without a professional ;-) your warranty would most likely be void!
The enjoyment of this $40 Barbie Jeep has not withered, 5 years still being used weekly and his little sister has now started the journey. And you can see it has been beat up over the years and shows the Barbie Pink where the paint has been scratched off.
But back to today. The Golf Cart, my son has moved on to bigger and better things, he drives our golf cart like a professional! I attribute his driving skills to the Barbie Jeep training himself the limits of “boy and machine”. And he found our old GoPro Hero 3 and mounted it to the golf cart to make movies. Here is his first movie.
I hope he doesn't get any bright ideas on how to “pimp out his golf cart ride” more than it already is. And the situation on how we ended up with a golf cart is a story for another time.
Here is his video, enjoy.