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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • SUMMER IN ITALY, 1951

Vroom: 1949

Vroom: 1949

Young motorist in an Austin pedal car circa 1949. From a set of 35mm Kodachromes I acquired in northern New Jersey. Here is another view. View full size.

Wow Seconded

That kid grew up in a completely different world than what I knew. I too looked through the Sears and Wards Christmas Edition Catalogs and dreamed of having a cool pedal car. Tonka was as close as I would ever get.

Wow

I remember as a kid looking through JC Penney, Montgomery Ward, and Sears catalogs dreaming of owning a pedal car. Being one of seven children I knew the closest I would ever get was whatever my mind could dream about. That was in the 60's and I don't think I ever saw one this beautiful. Heck I would have easily traded away 2 of my sisters for this beauty.

Beautiful

And, if I remember correctly, the full size Austin was just a tad larger. That is a dandy and one very lucky kid.

Austin J40 cars

The Austin J40 is something of a British motoring institution. The pedal car was built at the Austin Junior Car Factory in Bargoed, South Wales. This dedicated factory began Austin pedal car production in 1949, with the plant funded by the British Government. It was run on a not-for-profit basis, purely for the employment of disabled coal miners, with 250 men assembling both the J40 pedal car, plus the racy Pathfinder, loosely based around a single-seater competition Austin Seven. Production ended in 1971. Values vary depending on condition, between 1 and 3,000 pounds sterling.

The J40 Story

The J40 was manufactured in the UK by the Austin company. There is a full history here.

Beyond my folks' budget

This looks like an expensive toy and sure enough, according to the pedal cars page at austinworks.com: "The J40 sold for 27 pounds plus 6 pounds added purchase tax, while the Pathfinder cost 20 pounds plus 5 pounds purchase tax. At the time the average working man would have to save 2 or 3 weeks full wages to buy a J40."

[Prior to the 1949 devaluation of the Pound Sterling the exchange rate was approximately £1 = $4; after devaluation, £1 = $2.80. - tterrace]

Just like the one Dad drives!

Wow, that kid must have been on cloud 9 to get something like that!
All metal, real tires, real paint and chrome, compare that to the all plastic, no sharp edges boring junk today.

Downside is it must have weighed a ton.

Any Pedal Car collectors out there who can give us a ballpark value on that car today?

You can never be too careful

I see they blacked out the license plate for privacy protection.

Lucky Kid!

What a beauty. Looks like the trunk lid is operational too. The tires look pneumatic, almost real car like.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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