Nomura Toys ‘Century Hot Rod’ tin toy car made in Japan, 1950s

Made by Nomura in Japan, 1950s.

This tin-toy car labelled ‘Century Hot Rod’ is a good representation of a full-size hot rod, which was typically a custom-built American car modified for speed by replacing the engine with a larger one. The term ‘hot rod’ was first used during the Second World War to describe the modified cars raced by American teenagers across the dry lake beds north of Los Angeles. Car parts were scarce during the war and were sourced from junk yards to create hybridised cars with hotted up engines. After the ...


Object No.


Physical Description

Tin toy car, T N 'Century Hot Rod', friction operated, metal, made by Nomura Toys, Japan, 1950s, used by Wyatt family, Hobart, Tasmania, and Roseville, New South Wales, Australia, 1950s-1960s

The toy vehicle is a two-seat roadster, made from tin-printed plate with tab slot connection and has a large engine bay and engine which is exposed without a bonnet. The tin-printed engine is particularly detailed while a pair of oversized engine rockers sit prominently on top. The car has tin-printed wire wheels, with yellow upholstery and a blue body colour. Chrome has been used for the radiator, head lamps, and windscreen frame. The word 'Hot Rod' appears in white capital letters on each side and on the boot lid together with the word 'Century'. The car has the number plate H12. The vehicle is friction operated, with not only the wheels turning, but the tappets on top of the engine rock from side-to-side and the fan in the engine rotates.



83 mm


95 mm



This tin-toy hot rod was made in the 1950s in Japan by Nomura Toys. This firm's trademark was T.N. Nomura Toys, it was established in 1923 and manufactured of tin-plate robots, novelty figures and space toys. They were particularly prolific after the Second World War. Some 300 companies became involved in toy manufacture in post-War Japan producing mainly tin plate fiction or battery powered toy cars, robots and novelties. By 1960 over half of their production was being exported to the United States. Many of these companies were located around Tokyo with some also in Osaka. Unfortunately, the history of individual Japanese toy making firms is not known.


Nomura 1950s



The donor's eldest daughter owned this blue tin-toy hot rod and used it in Hobart, Tasmania, from the late 1950s to the early 1960s. It was one of a number of toy cars bought for her and her younger sister, by their parents. To distinguish each girl's toys, the elder daughter was bought blue-coloured cars while the younger daughter had red ones. When the family moved to Sydney in 1965 all their toys were brought too. The hot rod is part of a toy collection owned by the Wyatt family and presented to the Museum in 2008.




Credit Line

Gift of Ruth & Richard Wyatt, 2008

Acquisition Date

5 August 2008

Cite this Object


Nomura Toys 'Century Hot Rod' tin toy car made in Japan, 1950s 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 17 November 2018, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Nomura Toys 'Century Hot Rod' tin toy car made in Japan, 1950s |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=17 November 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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