The King Midget was so popular because it was just so simple!

By: Bruce Kunz

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Old Car Column

March 12th, 2017

FIN MAN disclaimer: Ladies — and I have a few in the ranks of my readership — do not take the following paragraph as a sexist comment.

What red-blooded pre-teen boy back in the 1950s and ’60s, didn’t wish he could own a King Midget? And I say “boy” without fear or intention of being politically incorrect, because back in those days I really believe the majority of the opposite sex had their minds on other things, like make up, pajama parties, planning for the future, us guys … and it didn’t matter if you made a comment like that.

We, meaning guys, read magazines like Popular Mechanics and Popular Science (my personal favorite) and the classified sections of these monthly periodicals were the primary advertising venues for the King Midget. The King Midget first appeared on the cover of Popular Science in 1951.

Why was it so popular? Simple … because it was just that, “simple,” which made repairs easy for the shade tree mechanic. Its size meant it was lightweight, easy to store and cheap with a sticker price of just $500. It weighed just 500 pounds and was, for a time, advertised using the phrase, “500 lb. car for $500.” That made it affordable for more affluent fathers and perhaps paper boys who were thrifty and saved their nickels and dimes.

The company was founded as Midget Motors Supply, of Athens, Ohio, by Claud Dry and Dale Orcutt and was later changed to Midget Motors Mfg. Co. (1948) and, finally, Midget Motors Corp. (1956). It was manufactured from 1946-1970 and went through three generations — Model 1 (1946-1950); Model 2 (1951-1956); and Model 3 (1957-1970).

The engines changed several times though the decades, but started with a 6 hp Wisconsin engine in the model Model 1s, which by the way were sold only in kit form in its first year. By 1947, the KM was available in kit ($270) or assembled. By the time the Model 3 appeared, the hp had jumped to a whopping 9.2 and the price also jumped to $1,775.

More information about the King Midget is available from the International King Midget Car Club, which offers books on the history of the cars, an annual gathering of fans and owners and information about spare parts, repairs, vendors and restoration. Learn more by visiting their website at kingmidgetcarclub.org.

Upcoming event

The next Breakfast with The FIN MAN will take place on THIS Friday, March 17, at the McDonald’s in Overland Plaza, 8960 Page Ave. (near Interstate 170). Wear your St. Patrick’s Day green and, if you bring a green car, your breakfast will be on me (a real, full-size car, not a diecast).

Weather permitting outside gathering on the patio, our lovable, laughable TKCS-StL mascot Roy is planning on being there for all the fun. He wants to wear a green hat to celebrate, but can’t decide which one to wear and needs your help. See my Facebook page and vote for the one you think would look best on Roy, the Beagle beyond compare.

Tri-Power Trivia returns next week. Meanwhile, Keep on Cruisin’.


Bruce Kunz, a.k.a. “THE FIN MAN,” is a member of the Society of Automobile Historians. If you love old cars and care about kids, visit thefinman.com.