This amazing pedal car was probably the best ever made and was so alike to the actual car. My young nephew Jim had one in Belfast around 1958, his was green and I wish we had it today! If you come across one today you can expect to pay upwards of $6000. The creation of the cars was originally a make work project for disabled Welsh coal miners. Seems a pity these days that our politicians can’t think of similar great projects. Of course its understandable!!!! to do something like this would be helping people and that is not a politicians purpose Eh????
The pedal car factory opened on July 5, 1949 and was called the Austin Junior Car Factory. It was actually paid for by Government funds and it was run on a not-for-profit basis and purely for the employment of the disabled coal miners. The factory had a floor area of 24,500 square feet and was tooled up by the Sheet Metal Planning Department.
Production started of with the Pathfinder and it was planned to build 250 a week, but unfortunately this figure was never reached. After a year the Pathfinder was dropped and was replaced in 1950 by the J40. The cars were made from scrap off-cuttings of metal from the Longbridge Austin motor car factory and were built and painted the same way as the motor cars themselves.
The J40 was a very well equipped toy of excellent quality and was probably the best pedal car on the market at the time. It featured real working headlights and horn, detachable wheels with Dunlop pneumatic tires, real like facia panel and leather cloth seating. It had an opening bonnet and boot and also a lot of good quality chrome, namely both bumpers, hub caps, grille, boot handle, and center bonnet moulding with the Flying A ornament. It was later dropped because of a change in the law. It was claimed people could injure themselves on the mounted bonnet badges if they rolled on to the front of a car.
The J40 sold for 27 pounds plus 6 pounds added purchase tax, while the Pathfinder cost 20 pounds plus 5 pounds purchase tax. At the time the average working man would have to save 2 or 3 weeks full wages to buy a J40.
The J40 was primarily intended for the American market but it also established its own export markets in Denmark and Canada. The Austin pedal cars eventually were to be found in homes around the world. 1952 Austin A40 Devon
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