Saturday, January 3, 2015
1957 King Midget Model III
The King Midget story reminds us what a middle-class nation the U.S. was in the '50's. Claud Dry and Dale Orcutt, of Athens, Ohio, buddies from the Civil Air Patrol, wanted to sell bare-boned utility car that anybody could afford, unlike that bloody elitist peacenik Henry Ford with his fancy Model T. King Midget's cars made the Model T look like a Bugatti Royale. In the late 1940's, they began offering the single-seat Model I as a home-built, $500 kit, containing the frame, axles and sheetmetal patterns, so that the body panels could be fabricated by local tradesmen. Any single-cylinder engine would power it. The result was a truly crap-tastic little vehicle, the four-wheel equivalent to those Briggs-and-Stratton powered minibikes. Amazingly, Midget Motors continued to develop and sell mini-cars until the late 1960's. The crown jewel was the Model III, introduced in 1957, a little folded-steel crackerbox powered by a 9-hp motor. Government safety standards, at long last, put the King Midget out of our misery.