Vanished Wales: Remembering the J40 toy car built in Wales by former coal miners

In a little corner of Pengam in the Rhymney Valley, four years after the end of the Second World War, an icon was born.

The Austin J40 pedal car was one of the most sought after toys of the 20th century.

The idea came from the Austin Motor Company, who wanted to make a scaled down version of their (life sized) cars as a children’s toy.

They became hugely popular across Britain and around the world during the 1950s and 1960s. 

Every man that worked in the factory was a former miner registered as disabled.

They were made by former coal miners who could no longer work underground. Every single man on the factory floor was registered as disabled.

At its peak in 1965, more than 500 people worked at the factory, and during its lifetime, it produced around 34,000 pedal cars.

The Austin Motor Company eventualy decided to focus on its 'real sized' cars. Credit: David Whyey

In 1971, production of the J40s came to an end, with the company turning its focus to their adult sized cars instead.

The factory closed for good in 1999, and was later demolished. A modern housing estate now stands on the site.

Watch Vanished Wales on ITV Cymru Wales at 7pm on Friday, March 1, and catch up afterwards on ITVX.

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