Smaller Than A Mini: Austin J40 Roadster

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

Many classic British built cars are quite small, but the Austin J40 pedal car has the distinction of being the smallest self-propelled British car. J40 production began in 1950 where 32,098 units were built before production ended in 1971. The idea of the pedal car business was thought up by Leonard Lord, Chairman of the Austin Motor Company. He came up with the idea to keep disabled coal miners in work, and thankfully the idea was a winning scenario for all. This original J40 has a pleasant patina, and a straight overall appearance only lacking a few components to be complete and a “driver” once more. With 6 days remaining, this Austin is bid up to $405.00 with no reserve! Check out this micro Austin here on eBay out of Dallas, Georgia.

Taking a peek under the hood is much like looking at a “Flintstones” mobile, but there are a few missing items. The treadle system is missing, as is the small faux engine that sits in the front of the engine bay. Thankfully these cars have a huge following and parts are readily available. Also it would appear that a set of tires and tubes may be needed in this Austin’s future.

Like a true classic British car, the white rimmed banjo steering wheel is beautiful and looks right at home in this micro roadster. If you notice this particular J40 is left hand drive. A bit tattered but there, the small bench seat has some wear and a few rips. For the young at heart that don’t like things perfect, the patina of the seat is probably good enough as it is.

Very well detailed, the J40 was certainly an awesome thing to have as a kid if you were lucky enough to have owned one. The styling of the J40 is based off of the 1948 A40 Devon and Dorset and the resemblance is quite clear. The paint is aged, and has various chipping, as well as some surface rust on the front cowling panels, as well as on the fenders edge just beneath the bonnet. There is surface rust on the trunk floor, but it is solid. The lower grill assembly is missing which also holds the faux engine, and the front bumper is missing. The only out of shape piece on this Austin is the rear bumper which is bent on the driver side. Needing some time, elbow grease, and parts, this awesome micro Austin would be a great ride for any young British car enthusiast. Have you ever seen an Austin J40 before?

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  1. Big Al

    I’d be tempted to put a motor in it

  2. Fred W.

    Much more detailed and higher quality than the US pedal cars.

  3. GP Member

    Custom riding lawn mower? Grass car USA, make another left turn, make another left turn.

  4. Joe Haska

    When I was a little kid, my mom and I would take the street-car (Trolley ) to downtown Denver to do the shopping for the family. This was every Thursday ( early 1950’s), I loved it, I got to have lunch at Woolworth’s, and there was a very high end toy store where we would get on and off the street-car, and my mom would let me go in and look at all the neat toys. In the back of the store there was a rack with the Austin pedal car. I guess they had it up off the floor so kids couldn’t sit in it. I would just stare at that car until the Trolley came, every week as long as I can remember. It was expensive then, and I don’t know that it ever sold. I did know it was from England and I would have given anything in the world to have it. Of course that didn’t happen , I would guess my dad could have had a good used car for what that pedal car cost then. Every time I have seen one since it brings a smile and good memories, even though I never got one. It makes me think times haven’t changed all that much, when I am at The L.A. Roadster Show starring at all those neat cars!

  5. lawrence

    We’ve had one atop an auto parts store here in Dallas, TX….Midway Auto parts…they chromed it years ago after it fell into despair….now the chrome is starting to rust….it’s at the corner of Hampton and Clarendon

    • dm

      Went over to Dallas via Google Earth to check it out. It’s there over the entrance. Very cool little car.

  6. Dan

    That looks like hard work to pedal!

  7. sciguy58

    Acceleration is gradual, but once you get it rolling it is easy to keep going. Stiff suspension means you feel every bump, but very little body roll through the turns. My boss in the 80s bought one in Olde English white. I put tubes and tires and a battery on it and it was good to go. I recall it having a large turning circle.

  8. Bill McCoskey

    I’ve restored 2 of these for customers. There are a lot of missing pieces on the bottom side of this pedal car, and I suspect someone gutted it with plans on putting a gas or electric motor in it, hence they ripped everything out.

    Yes, while the parts are not difficult to find in England, however shipping is costly for the larger/heavier pieces like the bumper [it can cost almost as much to ship as to buy.].

  9. Ed Williams

    HUMM….. looks like a candidate for a nice 50cc Honda engine as it has quite enough room under the hood ( bonnet) I should say, old chap! What a sidewalk racer that would be!

  10. lawrence

    Yep and thanks DM….a few guys I know swear they are going to get up there and swipe (steal) it !

    Another tid bit….after a little snow in January way back….a little old lady took the left turn green….not arrow….and smacked my original 1964 Nova SS with a little 283 – mainly due to the sand still on the road – my brakes locked up in the mess….it didn’t go real well with the cops – me a kid….and a little old lady…right on that corner !

  11. Van

    Can you say Hayabusa. Never be late for work again.

  12. Jim McGill

    Saw my first one @ Hershey years ago. Should have bought it!

  13. Otto Nobedder

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