They were, of course, slot cars. Scale model cars with a tracking pin that followed a slot on a closed course, as a pair of spring loaded contacts followed the electricity-charged rails on the track.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the original slot car system, the Scalextric. Scalextric was created in Britain by Fred Francis. The company spawned numerous imitators over the years and went through numerous financial difficulties but they are still around today. If you're in the mood for an electric car this Christmas, slot cars may be your most reasonable option.
[Source: The Telegraph]