The History of the Austin J40 Junior

The History of the Austin J40 Junior

Some time ago I was sent a video of the Settrington Cup Race at Goodwood Revival, by our SEO Director who hails from Goodwood(ish). If you’ve never witnessed this event, you really should. Dozens and dozens of young, aspiring racing car drivers resplendent in their period racing overalls, and pedalling like their little lives depend on it.

The whole spectacle is beyond adorable, but the thing that grabbed my attention most was the pedal cars that they were driving. These were not your average ‘Little Tike’ pedal cars… oh no! These were identical, authentic looking period pedal cars.

Fast track to a few weeks later and I’m casually wandering along Rotterdam’s Schiedamsedijk and there in a shop window, is another one of these astonishingly cute pedal cars – I’ll come back to this shop later!

These little cars stuck in my mind and after a few minutes Googling, I discovered that they’re Austin J40 Juniors, are as rare as rocking horse sh*t, phenomenally collectable and worth upwards of £5000 each! What’s even more bizarre, is that I discovered that they were built practically on my doorstep – at a plant in Bargoed in the valleys of South Wales.

From our Goodwood(ish) office, to Rotterdam, to my back garden… all in three easy steps!

Digging deeper, I learned that the little pedal cars were built at the Bargoed factory between 1949 and 1971, out of off cuts and scrap materials from the main Austin plant in Longbridge. In fact, the Bargoed factory was specifically set up to rehabilitate disabled Welsh miners.

Over 32,000 of the little cars were built over the 22 years of trading, with three models being created;
The Auston Junior 40, The Austin Joy 1 and the super sporty Austin Pathfinder Special.

Oh, and the Rotterdam connection? A Dutch street photographer, Humberto Randalfi, used to use an Austin J40 as a prop when photographing children at the Blijdorp Zoo in the 1950s and 1960s. The shop I had passed was actually an exhibition on urban culture.

The History of the Austin J40 Junior
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