Austin Joy 1 pedal car 1946
The Austin Joy 1 pedal car car was made in 1946 at Longbridge and here is its fascinating story.
After the war, the chairman of Austin, Leonard Lord, decided that the company should produce a children's pedal car. He also had the idea that it should be built in a new factory in South Wales. This would provide work for former coal miners whose health prevented them from working underground, but could cope with light assembly work.
Lord invited three Austin workers, one of whom was Alfred Ash, to design and build a prototype pedal car. The car was modeled on the current Austin alligator bonnet models . The project was a tightly kept secret, and the car was created in a separate area of Longbridge, away from prying eyes.
Once the car was built, complete with bicycle type pedals and rotating chain drive, Alfred Ash needed to make sure that it was the right size for a child. Again, under strict secrecy, Alfred brought his 8 year old daughter Marcia into the Austin works one a Saturday morning, where she pedalled the car around, and posed for official photographs.
Lord hoped that the pedal cars would bring joy to children, so the car was named Joy 1.
Joy 1 lost & found
By the time that the pedal cars entered production in Bargoed, South Wales, the Austin 8 had been replaced by the Austin A40 Devon. Consequently, the production cars, named J40 (J for Junior), were similar to the A40 Devon in design. The cars were sold in Austin showrooms and, by the time that production ceased in 1971, over 32,000 had been built.
Meanwhile, what had happened to the original prototype JOY1? In short, no-one knows. However, in the early 1990s, an unusual old pedal car was found by an antique dealer in Chichester. The Austin J40 Pedal Car Club was informed, and Alfred Ash was brought along to check to see if this was the long-lost Joy 1 which he had built 46 years previously. Alfred confirmed that this was indeed Joy 1. A happy reunion!
However, the story then takes an unfortunate turn, because one day in the mid 1990s, a photo appeared in The Times with a Sotheby's auctioneer sitting astride Joy 1. It was to be sold at an auction.
Joy 1 saved
The J40 Club sprang into action, and tried to interest a number of museums in buying the car, but none realized the importance or attraction of this tenacious little car! Auction day arrived, but fortunately no-one matched the expected price of £3,200.
The antique dealer was contacted. He agreed to sell the car to the J40 Club at the asking price, and gave 2 months to raise the funds. It was decided to create a Joy 1 Trust, separate from any club, so that the car could be preserved without risk of being sold off by any individual or committee. The aim was for Joy 1 to be seen and admired by the public, hence a museum was the ideal home.
A nail-biting two months ensued, with donations from many individuals and clubs, such as the Austin Counties Club, the J40 Club, and the 750 Club. Nearing the deadline, and still a few hundred pounds short of the target, Rover Group was finally persuaded to give a helping hand.
Joy 1 now in Gaydon
The new home for Joy 1 was chosen as the Heritage Centre at Gaydon, where it is normally on display. It has also spent time at Beaulieu. In 2006, Gaydon started a refurbishment, and Brooklands Museum welcomed the chance to put Joy 1 on display for a few months. It has certainly been much admired. It was decided to keep the car in its "as found" condition, as restoring it would remove some of its charm.
J40 replaced Joy 1
Eventually this prototype emerged, based on an Austin Eight of the time. Christened Joy 1 this was the only prototype model before being redesigned as the J40 pedal car which was put into mass production in a purpose built factory in Bargoed, South Wales employing invalided ex miners.
Joy 1 and J40 miniatures
Even from the Austin pedal cars, miniatures were made. Even from the Austin Joy I, there are miniatures from Kenna models. So of you were not able to afford the original J40 (A40) pedal car, you could buy a miniature pedal car for your children in stead.
There is even a model of pedal car Joy 1
Reunion with Joy 1
In Issue 1495 - page 6 of Classic Cars Weekly, you will find a nice article about a joyful reunion of the Austin Pedal car Joy 1 with its first lady driver at Longbridge during the 8@80 event 2019.
Marcia Blake sat in the pedal car in 1946, as an 8 years old, for promotional purposes. Her father was one of the Austin production engineers and also one of the engineers responsible for the design of the Austin Joy 1 Pedal car, later manufactured as the well-known J-40 pedal car, Marcia was now reunited with it and now sat in DOT, the Austin 8 tourer register car, which was a better fit for her at the age of 81.
A remake of the original 1946 image was made, now with Georgie, the granddaughter of main organizer of the 8@80 event Robin Wilson. She took place in the Austin Joy 1 pedal car, which was just a great moment of Joy. We had photographer John Lakey with us to make the photo shoots. He owns the copyrights of attached images, but he allowed us to share them with you.
Dot meets Joy 1 pedal car
80 years old, 1939 Austin 8AP Tourer “DOT” meets 1946 Joy 1 Austin prototype pedal car during the 8@80 anniversary event 2019. How great is this. Look at the shapes and how big this pedal car actually is. DOT was pleased to meet her baby sister after 70+ years.
Joy 1 was allowed for a weekend out of the Gaydon British Motor Museum, where she is displayed since she was rescued from an antique dealer. Thank you very much for having the opportunity to have Joy 1 available during our Austin 8 anniversary event. It must have been enjoyable for Joy 1 to meet her big brothers and sisters Austin Eights during the event.
Just a few shots I made which I thought to share with you. Since this will probably never happen again. Also some shots with the later J40 pedal car.
Austin image re-make.
Here are the results for the 1946 picture re-make, during the 8@80 event 2019. The 1946 photo was made to celebrate the production of the 1 millionth Austin car which was not an Austin 8, but an Austin 16, same as in the re-make picture made during the 8@80 event. It was also the debut of JOY 1.
We know the mix of the Austin 16, four Austin 8s and JOY 1 is a bit incongruous, but we believe it echoed some of the feel of the June 1946 debut of JOY 1.
The most difficult bit of preparation was painting the black stripes on the old bits of carpet. We all know that carpet is all too easy to paint when you don’t mean to, but believe us it’s not so easy when you do mean to paint it with defined colour edges! It took some time to get the re-make set up together, but we managed!