Between the 14th & 16th September, Goodwood Revival show goers will be treated to something a little unusual – even by the rather unusual standard already set by the vintage show. 

Featuring the youngest line up so far, a field of 30 Austin J40 pedal cars will race against each other, each pedal car with a rather young driver sporting original 1950’s overalls and crash helmets.

Racing legend Stirling Moss will oversee what is expected to be one of the most closely contested, although probably not the fastest, races of the Revival weekend.

Austin J40 pedal car Goodwood Revival 2012

The competitors, with an average age of 8 years old, will pedal a shorter, Junior, circuit around the hallowed pit lane at Goodwood although the race will start with a Le Mans style running start and there is a chicane at the finish line.

The J40 itself is a fascinating piece of British heritage.  In 1947 English Car Manufacturer Austin had the naming convention to name the car after it’s approximate Horsepower then to add an English county to the name.  This gave birth to the many Austin A40’s, such as the A40 Devon, A40 Dorset and the A40 Cambridge.  It also gave birth to something else for the younger generation.  Following the prototype “JOY 1”, Austin J40 pedal cars (based on the A40 Devon) were built at Austin’s Junior Car Factory in Wales from 1949.  The project was paid for by the government and the aim was to provide useful employment for disabled coal miners rather than for the business to make any sort of profit.

Two different pedal cars were made at the factory:  The J40,  and also the Pathfinder which was nothing to do with the modern Nissan of the same name but based (loosely) on the 1930’s single seat Austin Seven racer.  I’m not sure why it wasn’t called the J7?  When production finished in 1971 a total of 32,098 Austin J40’s had been produced.

To see them in action watch the video below:

The fantastic little children’s cars are a part of England’s motoring heritage and are so quintessentially British that they are certainly well worth celebrating at Goodwood – the Mecca for all our loveliest vintage motoring things.  It’s a great introduction to classic motoring for an 8 year old and the pedal cars will be on display while they’re not racing.  We can’t wait to see them.

For anyone who thinks that a race between youngsters won’t be ferociously competitive, you only need look at this retro video we have in the Motor-Vision video vaults of the 1936 All American Soapbox Derby.  I think I’d rather take my chances in a championship stock car race!

Green Austin J40 image from: austinj40pedalcarclub.org.uk

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