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A '55 Babybird & '66 Flairbird "Junior" At Recent Tbird Events!

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  • A '55 Babybird & '66 Flairbird "Junior" At Recent Tbird Events!

    The VTCI KC Convention just recently ended and a 1966 Flairbird with the matching 1966 Tbird "Junior" showed up! It was the only one there. It happens to belong to a friend of mine, who decided to take it with him to the Convention. It caused quite a lot of excitement and interest because millions of Tbird owners still don't know that Powercars of Mystic, CT was building 1955-1966 Tbirds and Mustang "Juniors" for FOMOCO back then! Some people who have seen a "Junior" think they were something that someone built in their garage. Not So! The owner of Powercars was also named Ford (no relation) and when he heard that Ford was coming out with the 1955 Babybird, he approached them regarding building battery powered 1955 "Junior" Babybirds for them. Powercars had been building battery powered "Junior" tractors and other vehicles.

    When Ford received his offer, they realized the genius in having a "Junior" model to promote and advertise their new model, the 1955 Babybird. They jumped on the idea like a duck on a Junebug and made a "Junior" mold for them to use for the 1955 Babybird and so that is how the Tbird "Juniors" got their start. Ford made new "bucks" or molds for the 1956-1966 Tbirds, and then included the Mustang also. They quickly started promoting the "Junior" Babybirds and Mustangs through their dealerships as a means of attracting more prospective Tbird/Mustang buyers to their sales rooms. Some were giving the "Juniors" away to buyers of their new Tbirds/Mustangs. Others were holding drawings, or different promotions to obtain a "Junior" that matched their Tbird or Mustang.

    It did not take long for GM and other auto companies to realize what Ford had going for them. They had Powercars and a few other companies make "Junior" models of their new cars. The Silvestri Art Co made the Pontiac Star Chief "Junior". The Barry Toycraft Co. made the 1963 Corvette "Junior"! The Donaldson Manuf. Co. made the 1957 Sunliner 500 "Junior" and the 1958 version AND the Edsel! Both in electric and pedal car! There were others making "Juniors" also, like Dodge. A 1966 Powercar "Junior" Mustang Shelby-GT350-H was sold by Sothbys in Arizona for $15,600, 17 January 2020!

    If you go through some of the Shiner parade videos you will still see some of them driving their 1955-1966 Tbirds or Mustang "Juniors"! Eventually, Powercars went under around 1966 for whatever reason and another company took over briefly for awhile and then they closed down. That ended the era of the "Junior" cars. Now if you can find one in good operating condition still it is probably going to cost you several thousands to buy one. Unless you get really lucky and find one in a garage, loft, storage that someone just wants to get rid of...

    Back to the start of this story and that 1966 (wrongly identified as a 1969!) Flairbird at the VTCI Convention. The owner of that "Junior" just wrote me to say that his Grandaughter's 6'3" Hubby was driving that "Junior" while holding his daughter in his lap! Showing that even a tall guy can stuff himself into a "Junior"! That has caused a lot of excitement, photo taking and videos because, as said previously, many people do not know they even exist. But I have for years. Take a look at this link on Anything Goes that I posted some years ago! I happen to know Lee Exline, the original owner of Thunderbird "Juniors" and Brian Orr, the new owner. Both are members of this Forum, but not currently active. You also might want to check out their FB page!

    https://www.facebook.com/Jrcentraldotcom/

    https://www.squarebirds.org/vbulleti...ge2#post255187

    From the sounds of it that is a gas powered "Junior".


    Attached Files
    Last edited by YellowRose; October 16, 2022, 01:50 AM.

    Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
    The Terminator..... VTCI #11178
    Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

    https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

  • #2
    John ~ jopizz is one of the original members back in the beginning of the VTCA. In discussing Tbird "Juniors" with him, he told me that he used to see a lot of "Juniors" at the VTCA The Squarebird Society (as it was known as then, now the VTCI after they added more years of Tbirds to it) events. Apparently, they were actively supporting "Juniors" at their events. Something it seems that the present VTCI Board has either forgotten their VTCA history, or never knew it. In fact, John has his old Scoop magazines from that era and dug out the one that he knew they had put a 1959 "Junior" on the cover of their magazine. Here is the B&W copy (no color back then on the Scoop) and the ad it was taken from.
    You do not have permission to view this gallery.
    This gallery has 2 photos.

    Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
    The Terminator..... VTCI #11178
    Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

    https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

    Comment


    • #3
      Yesterday, I received an email from my good friend Wayne, who owns the Gold 1966 "Junior" Tbird that he showed at the recent VTCI KC Convention. Here is what he had to say regarding a just completed activity he went to.

      "Ray, Here's a short video of our most recent Thunderbird Junior that was taken at the annual Thunderbird Rendezvous in Normal, Illinois last weekend.
      My granddaughter and great-granddaughter are the driver/rider here. This one is powered by a 3 speed, 48 volt, 1800 watt brushless DC motor. Haven't decided if we'll put a windshield on it or not. The seat cover matches the pattern and color of the typical Starmist Blue 1957 Thunderbird. The weather was great and everyone seemed to enjoy our two Juniors there. Wayne."

      He also said this. "At the show where this video was taken, I know I could have easily sold at least 3 Thunderbird Juniors if I would have had them available. On gentleman had a full sized '55 and said he'd give anything to have a Junior to match it. Another gentleman said he'd like to have a bullet bird Junior. The third gentleman had his 7 or 8 year old grandson with hi. When we had both of our (Junior) cars cruising the parking lot, I heard the grandson say "Papa, I want one of those"! The gentleman asked if I knew of any for sale. Another guy said, I'm got to find one of those for next year"."

      Anyone looking for a "Junior" should take a look at what is available on the Tbird "Junior" Facebook Page.

      https://www.facebook.com/Jrcentraldotcom

      If the System will allow me to, I will upload the video Wayne sent me of his Granddaughter driving his Great Granddaughter in their new Blue Babybird "Junior".




      Attached Files
      Last edited by YellowRose; October 16, 2022, 01:48 AM.

      Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
      The Terminator..... VTCI #11178
      Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

      https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

      Comment

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