One of the first exhibits a visitor will see on entering the foyer of the museum is the red Austin J40.
This is of course popular with the kids but there is an interesting story behind this car, one of over 32,000 produced between 1949 and 1971.
It was in 1943 that the British Parliament passed an act that recognised that many miners were been struck down with pneumoconiosis, a lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust. The Government decided to encourage employers to give ex-miners employment. Leonard Lord had taken this to heart and decided that those (in this case South Wales miners) who had been cut down by this respiratory condition could still earn a wage. It was stated that in 1945 there were over 5,000 miners suffering from this disease. The plan was that they would build a Toy Pedal Car based on the current models. To keep the cost down, it would use metal off-cuts from the main Austin factory at Longbridge. Codenamed JOY IV and later JOY 40 it was designed to look like the then current Austin A40 Devon and featured working headlights, Dunlop tyres and even real spark plugs in the dummy engine under the bonnet.
These proved to be very popular, if expensive sellers, and although originally designed as a pedal car, they were often seen fixed on carousels at fairgrounds. There was even a race for youngsters featured at the famous Goodwood race circuit. At peak production the Bargoed factory employed over 500 staff.
The surviving J40s are now highly sought after and there is even a well organized parts supply to restore neglected or damaged examples which can sell for a few thousand dollars.