The Schuco Varianto wire-track system was introduced in 1951. The company's advertisements stated, "The automatic traffic game featuring a new kind of wire track never seen before." The clockwork or battery-operated cars had a guide wheel on the underside that set within coiled wire tracks. The tracks could be arranged in various configurations of the owner's own design. Different plastic pieces could be linked with the wire track to create intersections and overpasses.
The Varianto system was sold for fifteen years and was immensely popular as a much cheaper alternative to electric train sets, having similar features and limited in layout only by the owner's imagination.
What's it worth? Take a look at this Schuco Varianto price guide: sold listings for a value indication.