Starting Small

Harrington Group makes miniature motoring wonders

A disappointing gift prompted Nathan Redfeam, a co-founder of the Harrington Group, to go into the business of building and selling fully-functional half-size automobiles – or, as the company call them, Junior Cars (US$10,995-12,399/RM46,500-52,400). Years ago, he surprised his nephew with a toy version of a classic car. The car was expensive, but to Redfeam’s chagrin, its quality was poor. Redfeam, who had been involved with classic cars since he was a teenager growing up in Wales – repairing, restoring, buying and selling them at various times – decided that he could build a better toy. Also, he figured, constructing the mini cars would help prepare the Harrington Group’s staff for his long-range plans of producing full-size electric cars.

Junior Cars is one of several ventures that Redfeam operates through the Harrington Group, the business that he established in 2003 in Vietnam, where his wife was born. The company also restores cars, as well as manufacturing and selling replica parts for classic cars, and it has also already built a prototype electric car.

The design of each Junior Car was inspired by an iconic classic car, harkening back to the glory days of the racing-inspired automobiles of the 50s, 60s and 70s – a vintage Formula 1 racecar here and a swinging icon there. Each car is equipped with an independent wishbone suspension up front and in back, adjustable gas shock absorbers on all four heels, vented disk brakes with Brembo calipers front and rear, and a working horn, lights and turn indicators. The front-mounted, air-cooled, 125cc four-stroke engine sends powers to the rear wheels through a 3-speed semiautomatic transmission.

Though the cars are small – and they would be, since they are meant for children – their fun is not limited to just kids. The adjustable pedal box enables someone as tall as 180 metres to fit behind the wheel, and in the standard tune, the cars can reach 70 km/h. But the company can adjust the engines so that the cars do not exceed a child-safe limit.

So whether it’s for a budding Lewis Hamilton or a Lewis Hamilton that wants to tap into his inner child again, the Harrington Group’s junior cars are works of wonderment, proving once again that size does not always matter.

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