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Austin J40 Continuation to launch at Goodwood Revival for a new generation of car fans

by Jon Burgess
11 August 2022 3 min read
Austin J40 Continuation to launch at Goodwood Revival for a new generation of car fans
Photos: J40 Motor Company

Continuation cars are increasingly popular nowadays; a lucrative means of carrying on a sought-after line of cars with the blessing of the factory. We’ve seen several cars from the likes of Aston Martin and Jaguar in recent years, but in 2022 it’s the turn of another storied British marque – Austin – to release an update to the iconic J40 pedal car.

And like those Astons and Jaguars, the J40 isn’t for road use, though it’s probably more like to see competition, as it puts a beloved children’s toy back into production, with tweaks and improvements over the original.

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If you’re familiar with the name, that might be due to the Settrington Cup at the Goodwood Revival, which has hosted a grid full of Austin J40s for a decade now. Named after the title given to the eldest son of Goodwood’s Earl of March, the Cup pits children in a race along Goodwood’s pit straight – including a tricky chicane – in a fleet of J40s.

It’s wildly popular too, not just with spectators but with the drivers themselves. There’s a full 70 kids signed up for this year’s event, many the sons, daughters, nephews, nieces and grandchildren of the people racing elsewhere in the Revival.

Masterminded by the J40 Motor Company – the pedal car division of Burlen Fuel Systems which now owns the rights, drawing and spares network for the 1500 or so J40s produced between 1955 and 1971 – a massive celebration of the car “to give joy to many children”, in the words of Austin chairman Leonard Lord, is to take place at this year’s Revival.

The new car – teased in promotional shots as a “concept” wearing blackout covers on its headlights and spy-shot deterring “dazzle” camouflage, promises “the ultimate in fit, finish and specification whilst a number of engineering upgrades will provide a new driving experience.” Beyond that, the J40 Motor Company remains tight-lipped as to what the continuation J40s will be like.

Managing Director, Mark Burnett, added: “It’s our mission to protect the J40 for drivers of the future as, for many, it provides their first interaction with a classic car. Fixing up a forlorn family J40 teaches restoration, actually driving one encourages a love of cars and taking part in the Settrington Cup must surely inspire the next generation of racers.

“The J40 Motor Company is dedicated to encouraging the next generation of classic car enthusiasts” he added, “and whilst J40 pedal cars are not cheap toys, we are committed to ensuring all children get a chance to see, drive, experience and love the Austin J40.”

The kids should get to do exactly that at Goodwood, since when they’re not racing, they’ll have a chance to test the new J40 on a special course in Woodcote Paddock, alongside the J40 Motor Company’s range of parts and “JOY 1”, on display – the first ever Austin 8-apeing pedal car prototype that eventually became the J40, shortened from “JOY 40”, the chosen name for the new toy.

The original J40’s history stretches back to the 1940s. Assembled by retired miners in Bargoed, South Wales, the J40 gave employment to hundreds of men injured by pneumoconiosis (“The Dust”), whose plight was recognised by an Act of Parliament in 1943.

Production wouldn’t begin until 1949, after three prototypes (JOY 1, 2 and 4) were produced. JOY 3 spawned the single-seater “Pathfinder” model, which was also assembled in Bargoed. The steel-bodied car had an opening boot and dummy engine bay, as well as properly sprung seats and steering by rods. While far from cheap, it closely resembled contemporary Counties Austins – and was a cut above the Mobo and Triang pedal cars sold to children between the ages of four and nine.

The J40 may feature in Goodwood’s slowest race, but the J40 will never be forgotten. Its future looks bright, especially if both headlights still work.

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