Things to Do: Visit the new Mini Cars Museum in Bellport


mini cars museum in bellport

John Cerrito says it often: His kids grew up, but he didn’t.

That’s how he explains his expansive collection of miniature cars, some static and others that run on gasoline.

Cerrito, 71, wouldn’t have had time to build or restore all those cars in a 20 or 25-year span of having his kids at home to help. When they moved away, he kept amassing mini cars.

“I’ve been doing this for like 50 years,” he explained. “A lot of these cars are one of a kind, and very rare stuff.”

At about 100 mini cars, he’s confident his is the biggest collection in the world.

“I know what else is out there,” he says. “Believe me.”

Now they’re fully available for public viewing at the Mighty Midgets Mini Cars Museum, which opened last month at 287 Station Road in Bellport. (Map below.) Cerrito purchased the property two years ago and had been working on prepping the museum ever since.

The museum’s winter hours are noon to 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, The entry fee is $5 and children under 5 are free.

The collection spans the history of automobiles in the U.S. and Europe, and Cerrito’s museum takes the visitor through time like few car collections ever could — if only because it’s hard to pack 75+ full-size cars into just one building.

Cerrito’s tour covers the first 50 years of automobiles, starting with the early Ford models and wrapping up with supercars of the 1980s.

He painted all the time-period murals that serve as the backdrops.

Aside from the history tour, there are plenty of other cars in the collection available for viewing, including a1963 Volkswagen Beetle from the movie Herbie The Love Bug, and one of Cerrito’s personal favorites, a French Delahaye.

The collection includes small, replica promotional cars that in the 1950s used to sit prominently in showrooms. Those were used to recruit kids to push their parents to buy the real cars, explained Cerrito, a retired West Islip music teacher who lives in Hauppauge.

Then there are ride-on cars.

“You sit on top of it and drive it like a motorcycle,” he said,  “And some of these do like 50, 60 mph.”

The priciest cars, some valued at well over $50,000, are the gas-powered, smaller scale fiberglass supercar replicas such as the 308 GTS Ferrari made famous by Magnum, P.I.

Those typically originate from the children of wealthy families, he said.

Through his Mighty Midgets Mini Cars Inc., Cerrito does some sell some cars, but only if he makes a second, identical one — mainly to fund other projects.

The idea for the museum stems mostly from Cerrito wanting to organize and catalogue the collection.

The building in Bellport also allowed him to get them off his property.

“I built a couple for my kids when they were little, and then it just kind of blew up into at first a hobby, and then an obsession, and then craziness,” he laughed. “Then you have so many cars, you either gotta start selling them or doing something with them.

“That’s how the museum came about.”

Top: Behind the wheel of a 1956 Corvette at Mighty Midgets in Bellport. (Michael White)