Jeff’s New Project: Mini-Cars Go Kart!

Every now and again, I justify a small purchase – mostly in the form of die-cast models – by saying my toddler daughter would enjoy it. I can’t help the fact that she’s already shown an interest in automobiles, not through any direct coercion from dad, of course. This time, I went slightly over the top and acquired a go-cart from my friend in Georgia’s collection that we’ve listed here as a Barn Finds Exclusive. And really, my time behind the wheel will be limited, as I truly hope to have it restored by the time my daughter is big enough to operate it safely. That doesn’t mean it won’t be hot-rodded, of course…

Obviously, this go-cart was built as a promotional item for Wrangler Jeans. This was not an uncommon practice at one time, though I can’t fathom how a clothing company would benefit from having a go-cart running around with its name on it. For car dealerships, gasoline stations, parts sellers, and the like, it makes sense – but why the director of marketing at a company hawking dungaree wanted one of these is beyond my ability to fathom. The body is fairly generic, but the head- and taillights point to the original design being a homage of sorts to a Ford Econoline.

Mini Cars is a brand of go-cart created by FW & Associates, an Arizona company that seemed to carve a niche for themselves out of building promotional go-carts. Their height of activity appears to have been in the ’70s and ’80s, with their creations still popping up for sale on craigslist and auction websites. Most of the time, some component is missing, so the listing will be for a body or the chassis. I’m still researching to see whether other bodies can be swapped on, as that would make this junkyard find even more entertaining if different bodies could be swapped on and off.

The go-cart came with a 3 b.h.p. engine that I’ll hold onto for posterity, but my bigger plans call for upgrading the engine, brakes, tires, and steering as much as possible. My uncle is a machine shop owner and small equipment expert, so I’m looking forward to working with him on the build. Basically, I want the go-cart to be fun for me now while making it safe enough for my daughter to operate when she is of the appropriate age. As far as a paint scheme, I’m thinking of the original Gulf Racing colors of pastel blue and orange, given this is a Ford body, after all. Would you paint it or keep the original Wrangler branding in place?


  1. MH

    I’ll bet it was used in many parades.

    Like 4
    • jim

      I read that as you saying, “I’ll bet it was used in “mini” parades”

      hah :)

      Like 2
    • Maverick

      Denim jeans and vans .back in the day. Gremlin also had a levi jean edition.

      Like 2
      • Dee

        I had a 1982 Jeep Renegade CJ 7
        With denim seats
        Miss that toy
        FYI I’m probably only a few females that enjoy this page

        Like 1
  2. Dustin Lisner

    I have a 32 ford made by them, they appear to be very similar. Does anyone know where I can find out more about mine or what its worth, its been sitting for a couple years but it will hopefully run this year. When I got it it belonged to an old man that claimed he got it new in the 60s

    Like 12
    • Lorraine

      Did you ever restore it. I got mine new in 1982. F.W. And Associates with Briggs & Stratton Engine. Top speed 35 mph.

  3. Matthew Member

    me and my buddies have a man sized go kart…was a datsun 280zx, then ended up with a pontiac 301 and th350.

    Like 3
  4. tasker

    DENIM MACHINE paint job!! for ultimate cool factor!

    Like 10
    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Now that I know this exists – and it’s so damn patriotic – I may have to listed to you.

      Like 1
    • Matthew Member

      I need this.

      • Chris

        Is this a mini car frame from fw? The diamond plate was added later so not sure where to look for the label. Would love to find out what body went on this. Help!!!! The steering wheel looks like the one for a 1978 corvette pace car….

  5. maggard

    Is it possible to get a pic of the drivers seat/area?

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Here you go:

      Like 1
  6. DWJ

    I would leave it as is just freshen it up

    Like 1
  7. Kenbone

    Dodge not ford

    Like 1
  8. Jimmy

    It looks like Ford taillights and Chevy front end. Would be fun to have it, I would keep it original except for upgrading to a 5.0 hp engine.

    Like 1
  9. KevinLee

    With the peak in the front, it looks like a Chevy. The back looks generic anything.

    Like 1
  10. WayneC Member

    Keep it as painted and contact Wranglers. Maybe they would kick in a few bucks to help with restoration. But, this idea may be nothing but a fantasy.

    Like 1
  11. Pete Kaczmarski

    Get something that can be titled and driven in every state…..King Midget. Made from 1946 to 1969 in three series in Athens Ohio. Here is mine.

    Like 6
  12. Jay

    The front end is definitely Dodge grille and position of headlights, rear is generic except Ford taillights. But what a cool find and a great project for your daughter.

    Like 3
  13. Rich

    Re do it as it was originally (bigger motor of course) wrangler edition is way too cool not to re do, but the denim machine paint scheme would be a pretty cool upgrade

    Like 2
  14. Jon Rappuhn

    Put a snowmobile engine in it, repaint it as original or maybe a “barn finds” logo and scheme. (Nothing wrong with a little self-promotion).

  15. Mike

    That is a Dodge body, They also made a second generation Ford body. They never made a GM body and I’ve seen some use a Chevy grille and tail light decals on the Dodge to emulate a Chevy van (which was lame).

    Like 2
    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Hey Mike – great intell and thanks for helping me sort out its identity. Wonder where this gal is now….;-)

      Like 2
  16. Mike

    Here’s a Ford

    Like 3
  17. Mike

    This is a Dodge with chevy decals, still a dodge.

    Like 1
  18. chrlsful

    every body’s got one…

    The blond? long gone, she’s 50 y/o now…

  19. Chris

    Trying to find out if this is an fw associates mini car frame and what body would have been on it…. Can anyone help?

  20. maggard


  21. Jordan

    I scored one about a year before you did. Couldn’t resist. For my daughter as well, she will be 1 on the 23rd!

    Not sure how to upload a pic??

  22. Derrick

    I’m looking for a FW & Associates frame to mount under my Motorsports Mustang body. From what I can tell the FW frames are longer @ about 46” then the typical go kart. If anyone comes across one for a reasonable price I’m in! Located in CA but willing to travel a bit.

  23. Angel Chavez

    Where can i find one , i have cash in hand , preferably a mini van

    • Jennifer

      I have one, I’m in Stockton, CA. I’ll take some pics today

  24. Evelyn

    How can I find out the value of my vintage Mini Car? I think its a Firebird or Camaro chassis, all white (maybe never painted?), scuffed but no cracks. Has original frame clearly showing serial number, manufacturer, etc. Briggs Stratton engine last run 5 years ago.

  25. Bosstom

    Cool, been retired for a while now and the Grumman should be done before years end. Lot of fiber glass work might see if I can build a 1959 Grumman mini. BT

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