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King Midget


The KING MIDGET was the last surviving reminder of the American post-WWII minicar boom.

It was built and developed by partner's Claude Dry, a Linotype mechanic and Dale Orcutt, a maintenance supervisor in a trouser factory, who had leased a two-storey supermarket in Athens, Ohio, primarily for the sale of war surplus machine tools.

They had branched out to include motor scooters in 1945 and sold them until the introduction of the first King Midget in 1947.

This was a single-seat similar in style to an American style midget racing car and sold for $270 in kit form, purely as an off-road fun car.

A 6hp single cylinder, air-cooled, Wisconsin engine was mounted in the rear.

Realising the potential of their product, they set-up the Midget Motors Corporation and ran it in their spare time.

By 1949, sales of the Midget justified their full-time involvement in the company and in 1951, the car was completely re-designed as a road legal two-seater with a folding cloth hood.

The new design had a 376cc Wisconsin engine and was available as a complete car or in kit form. The sturdy chassis was built of perforated girders and tubing.

The absence of doors and the square Jeep style wings didn't detract from the simple, but pleasing appearance of the car and it sold well.

90 cars per month were turned out by a workforce of never more than 21 employees.

Doors could be fitted in 1958 and the engine was up-rated in 1967 to a 476cc Kohler engine developing 12bhp.

Optional extras included doors, a hardtop, side curtains, speedometer, heater and a golf bag.

Hand controls were available for the disabled.

Kits were discontinued by this time and inflation had taken the sale price up to $1,095.

A body-less Driver Training Car version was offered for driving school instruction.

In 1966, Dry and Orcutt sold out to a group of East Coast businass men but stayed on as technical advisors.

But the car had lost its appeal and the newly elected President, Joseph C. Stehlin Jnr could find no way of reviving it.

Midget Motors was sold to Vernon Eaads who wanted to re-introduce the car in Hollywood, Florida. But he went bankrupt before any cars were produced.

Between 1947 and 1969, approximately 5,000 King Midgets were sold.

Source: Reg J. Prosser


Models produced by King Midget

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