A passion for pedal cars
A visit to our museum can bring out your inner child – especially when you walk around a corner and come face to face with the brightly coloured collection of antique pedal cars.
Our first floor collection celebrates over 110 years of childhood joy and make-belief.
But these little cars were far from just toys – in years gone by pedal cars were often made using similar materials to the marques they represented. They are beautiful objects for both children and adults alike.
Among our collection is a bright red Austin Junior 40 (J40). A total of almost 32,000 of these cars were produced from 1949 to 1971.
They were made using off-cuts of metal supplied by Austin’s Longbridge factory. Although the model was labelled “Junior” in sales catalogues they were known as “Joycars” by the Austin factory and came with a dummy engine, complete with spark plugs and leads, battery operated headlamps, horn and chrome trim.
Our immaculate red model was made in 1966 and is sheet steel over a steel frame. It was built at Austin’s pedal car factory at Bargoed in South Wales.
The South Wales link gives rise to a fascinating piece of history. The idea of Austin Joy pedal cars first came up in 1946 when Sir Leonard Lord conceived the idea of a factory which could employ ex-miners suffering from the mining disease Pneumoconiosis. He intended it to be a non-profit making concern. It was designed to fit the two-year-old daughter of one of the Austin factory employees.
* 🔍 Want to read this leaflet? The text is at the bottom of this page.
The Works Manager of Longbridge, Sir George Harrison, suggested the prototype carry the number “JOY 1” and subsequently they became known as Joy Cars.
The factory opened on July 5, 1949, and was called the Austin Junior Car Factory. It was intended to build 250 a week but this figure was never reached. They were high quality – and had detachable wheels with Dunlop pneumatic tyres, fascia panel along with an opening bonnet and boot. 32,098 were built until production finally stopped in 1971.
- Download the sales literature here or read the text below
Text from the leaflet
“Just like father’s car” The Austin J forty
In producing the Junior Forty, the Austin company has provided a fascinating model car that will give enthusiastic pleasure both to boys and girls and supply an endless source of healthy outdoor enjoyment. What a thrill for “junior” to drive a car just like fathers! To Polish it even better than he does, to take the wheels off or pump up the tyres, to lift up the bonnet and examine the engine and best of all to show it off to admiring friends and relatives.
This is a real car indeed, and children like father, will be able to say AUSTIN - you can depend on it.
Built by disabled miners in South Wales
Austin J40 cars are made in a specially constructed factory at Bargoed in South Wales. Here, in good conditions with the guidance of an experienced rehabilitation officer and under the supervision of a doctor, disabled Welsh miners are able to find a new interest in life and do a job of work that is both useful and congenial. There are important you print facilities at this factory for 250 men.
The J40 roadster will appeal to both boys and girls for its low sweeping line its brilliant finish and it's very real appearance. Children will be thrilled to possess such a model which will induce and satisfy a sense of ownership and provide valuable experience in road usage that will benefit them for the remainder of their lives.
- The enclosed boot at the rear of the Jay 40 roadster is a large enough to accommodate many varieties of luggage.
- The bonnet can be lifted up to give easy access to the engine sparking plugs and two 4.5 Volt batteries
- The pressed steel wheels are detachable and are fitted with Dunlop pneumatic tyres for easy and smooth running
- There is room for driver and passenger in the comfortable interior of the J forty roadster
- Note the convenient handbrake
See more in the museum
- 👁️ Find the Austin J40 in our pedal car collection on the 1st floor exhibition hall
- There are lots of other marques and pedal cars available