Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
April 24, 2015

With the cooperation of Ford Motor Company, the Powercar Company created “junior” versions of production cars meant to entice customers (particularly those with young kids) into dealer showrooms to check out and (hopefully) buy a new car. Powercar originally started with a Thunderbird Jr. in 1954 when the T-bird first hit showrooms, and eventually followed it up with Mustang Juniors starting in ’64. As the brochure at the time stated, “Not only have [Mustang Juniors] been the vehicles most wanted by American youngsters, but they also proved so fascinating to grown-ups (who could not resist stuffing themselves into Junior's car) that we decided to create a model for adult kids too. The adult fun car models are the happy solution of this problem.”

Roger Nitti cruising his Mustang Junior around Fabulous Fords Forever.
Kids dig the Mustang Junior. The ’67 Junior in back is an electric version owned by Adrian Landeros.

We saw this one at the Knott’s Berry Farm Fabulous Fords Forever show in April 2015 and chatted with its owner Roger Nitti. Turns out Roger is from a hot rodding family; he’s the son of Joe Nitti, builder of the famous purple ’32 Ford roadster that is considered one of the Top 75 Roadsters of all time. Roger became the coolest 6 year-old on his block when his dad went down to a Ford dealer in Los Angeles in 1965 and bought this gas-powered ’66 Mustang Jr. for his son, paying $537 for it. It has remained in the family ever since. The mini Mustang originally had a 2.5hp Briggs & Stratton engine it but Roger has since replaced it with a 7hp Honda generator engine with electric start (thanks to Geoff Warner at Vegas Carts & Performance), so the car will run up to 31 mph now. Roger also had Henry Mendoza redo the interior (complete with a “top boot”), cut the “trunk” open for better access to the engine, and has had it repainted several times. Lenny Ribaudo from So Cal Speed Shop in Las Vegas (where Roger lives now) did the pinstriping over Dan Mann’s paintjob.

Powercar Company built just over 600 of these Mustang Juniors, some gas-powered and some electric, and took them to dealers to promote the new Mustang, as well as taking them to schools for kids to look at and collect “tickets” to get their parents to visit the dealership. They also raffled some of them off. Roger’s car is serial number #324. At the Knott’s show, he was constantly helping kids sit in the car and pose for their parent’s pictures, and there was always a crowd around it. Hey, whatever it takes to get the youngest generation into cars, and Mustangs specifically, isn’t a bad thing. From his dad’s intital purchase price of $537, Roger has been offered $20,000 for the car, but he’s not selling. “I’m really enjoying it. It’s been in my family all these years and I plan on keeping it.”

Nitti had the interior reupholstered at So Cal Speed Shop in Las Vegas, where the dash decals were also refurbished.
A 7hp Honda engine from a generator powers Nitti’s mini Mustang to 31 mph.
Roger Nitti and his son drove the Mustang in a parade 15 years ago.

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The Mustang pulling Roger’s 1970 Murray Sad Face custom pedal car.