Al Taliaferro introduced the car, a 1934 Belchfire Runabout, into the Donald Duck newspaper comic on July 1, 1938. Donald is said to have constructed it himself from spare parts of various sources. It is recognizable by its license plate number 313. The car is modeled around the 1938 American Bantam. Though Donald briefly drove other cars both in Taliaferro's strip and in later stories, this car would stay with Donald throughout the following decades. The car's constant breakdowns and need of repairs is often used as a source of humor. Immediately recognizable by readers, it seems to have become as much a trademark of Donald as his sailor shirt and cap. On the other hand, his alias the Duck Avenger has the 313 (which sports a different plate, namely X, so it's nicknamed 313-X or 313-Xtreme) equipped with a lot of high tech gadgets by Gyro Gearloose to combat crime. In Recalled Wreck by Don Rosa, Donald tells his nephews that he can't buy new car parts instead of having them fixed because his car is made of parts that are no longer produced.
The car is a roadster, meaning it doesn't have windows, but has a retractable roof. Despite looking like it has only two seats, the trunk is fitted with a third one, usually occupied by Huey, Dewey and Louie, but occasionally by another guest. Born with a total red paint, the 313 gained a blue and red livery in the comic strips, even if with inconsistent scheme: sometimes it has a blue body and red fenders, sometimes the tints are reversed, depending by the author.