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Craigslist: 1963 King Midget Model 3

king midget front

King Of The MicroCars

When you dig deep into the shadier corners of Craigslist you are bound to find some strange shadows of the past. Even those of us who are confessed car nerds could be excused to have never heard of a King Midget.

[Source: Austin Craigslist | Thanks for the tip Shawn!]

Note: this was written by Wayne Moyer. Oddly, his Hoon author profile does not exist anymore. I’ll have the chief blooger look into that. -KK

king midget side

Not a golf cart

Normal people will see a listing for a King Midget and assume its a typo or someone attempting to be funny. The truth is actually a bit stranger. King Midget was an American manufacturer of kit cars from nineteen forty-eight through the early nineteen sixties. Although you would be hard pressed to find someone who thought this was a good idea. Sure there was a need for basic transportation but at this point you might as well walk. For half the price of a Rambler in 1963 you got one third the car and you still had to build it yourself.

Originally equipped with a nine-horsepower engine, our intrepid Midget owner did a Hoon worthy upgrade in power by doubling it to a whopping 18 Honda horses. Think of the high performance that this microcar is now capable of. Now you can finally out drag every Triumph Mayflower you meet.

Our owner wasn’t done at the muscle car modification and next gave the little car some class with some Cadillac taillights. Claimed to have gone through a full reproduction the seller next asks you why you wouldn’t get this over a motorscooter. Well first I don’t know of anyone that has used the term motorscooter since this car was built. Next the listed price of $5,995 will get you a pretty decent scooter with nearly double the fuel mileage and likely more storage. Still, if it rains the scooter is far less useful.

Opulence, we have it.

Opulence, we have it.

So the bigger issue is that someone like me would own this little car in less than a heartbeat. I would teach my kids to drive it around the col-de-sac with a smile on my face. Then head into town and not care that I had a train of cars a mile long behind me. Sure in the end King Midget may not be a name people know but does it matter when you own something this cool. This defines retro and odd at the same time.

 

Currently there are "33 comments" on this Article:

  1. Devin says:

    One wheel drive, if you're curious.

    • fodder650 says:

      I did forget to mention that part didn't I? You are correct it was one wheel drive for that extra traction on the go.

  2. ZomBee Racer says:

    There is one for sale down the street at a local lot. Took a bunch of pictures of it. Been there for well over a year. Its gotten some cool customization, with flames, chrome and Tuck & Roll interior. Always thought it would make a neat post somewhere.

  3. OA5599 says:

    [youtube KuMQjKiaDTg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuMQjKiaDTg youtube]

    Somebody give mharrell six kilobucks, stat.

  4. njhoon says:

    Paging Dr Harrell. Paging Dr Harrell, Paging Dr Harrell.

  5. dukeisduke says:

    When I was a teenager in the mid '70s, one of the neighbors down the street (a police sergeant) had a pristine white King Midget, and he would drive by, on his way home, at the same time every day. It was so slow that you when you heard it putt-putting down the street, you had a good long time to run outside to get a look at it.

  6. mdharrell says:

    "King Midget was an American manufacturer of kit cars…"

    True, although my understanding is that the Model 1 was available only as a kit, the Model 2 could be had either as a kit or not, and the Model 3 only as a factory-assembled car.

    "…from nineteen forty-eight through the early nineteen sixties."

    Their last gasp was a dozen Model 3s and three Commuters in 1970:

    <img src="http://www.kingmidgetcarclub.org/comm6.jpg&quot; width="450">

    Yeah, I've given them some thought. Probably not this one, however, with that enormous, reliable Honda engine in the back. Heck, I suspect Honda parts are readily available, too, so where's the sport in that?

    • fodder650 says:

      The Commuters were King Midget designs by another company who had bought the remains but you are correct.

      • mdharrell says:

        The assets of Midget Motors had been sold to Barthman Corporation at that point but the vehicles were still King Midgets; that was never the company name, just the name of the marque.

        • fodder650 says:

          Are you trying to tell me that I'm wrong?! That the author of this piece is incorrect! Do you take me for an uneducated blogger! :)

          Well actually I believe you are correct. I thought they had changed names but looking back they hadn't. Which makes this even more interesting that these were built for well over twenty years.

          • mdharrell says:

            Well, um, actually the company did change names from Midget Motors Supply to Midget Motors Manufacturing Company to Midget Motors Corporation over the course of its first few years….

            I did say that I'd given them some thought.

            • fodder650 says:

              I was kidding :) Part of the reason that I write these is to learn more from the commenters like yourself. I haven't really seen much information on Midget Motors. So I'm learning something new.

              • mdharrell says:

                Several months ago I briefly corresponded with Bob Vahsholtz, author of "King Midget: The Story of America's Smallest Dream Car" as an intermediary between him and the editor of a French microcar magazine who wanted to review his book. I ended up buying a copy myself. He did his best to talk me into getting a King Midget, too, but I haven't yet found the right one. It does mean, however, that I've recently read through their history.

                • fodder650 says:

                  That's very cool. How did you end up talking to him?

                  I really do apologize if i came off mean earlier. In my head things sound different then when they end up in print.

                  • mdharrell says:

                    No, not at all! It came across as playful, which is how I assumed it was intended.

                    As for the, er, book deal, I think I'm pretty much the only US subscriber to "Génération Sans Permis" and, as it turns out, even though the magazine is mostly about new cars, the editor is wild about older microcars in general and KV/KVS in particular, so we've communicated back and forth a bit. He wanted to learn more about King Midgets by getting ahold of the Vahsholtz book and reviewing it for his readers. He wasn't sure how to track down a copy over there so he asked me to do so over here. I hadn't heard of the book but I wrote to the author and ended up buying two copies, one of which I mailed to France.

                    He reviewed it, the King Midget club newsletter then reviewed the review, and everyone was happy. Mr. Vahsholtz proceeded to send me a few promising leads on King Midgets for sale but none were quite the right fit. Perhaps some day.

                • Scott says:

                  I have a 1970 king midget for sell. Iam the third owner and it is original. The am radio works. Top and window screens in good shape. 12hp koler

  7. dukeisduke says:

    Wow, an 18hp Honda two-cylinder? It's a restomod.

    • McQueen says:

      If I were Americano I would pick up and drop in a Tecumseh V-2 24 un-godly (Out of a mower) HP engine just to be on the safe side of all Amurican

  8. K5ING says:

    How many times have we seen this ad in the back pages of Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, etc. back in the day?

    <img src="http://www.boingboing.net/filesroot/kingmidget.jpg&quot; width="600">

    • DON says:

      have been amused by this thread. If you were a red bluddied boy in high school in about 1950, you likely read hose little ads, as I did. Longed for one, and sent off the 25 cents for tbe brochure. Very few of us ever got the car, but never forgot them. When I SAW an ad . in 1994, (Omaha), I called but it had sold. I then found the International King Midget Car Club. Bought my first one ( A TYPE 3), SINCE, I HAVE OWNED AND/OR RESTORED 6 OF THEM, Have attended many Club Jamborees, Met most of the knowledgeable KM experts. The little cars are quirky, simple, fu n and reasonably priced. They always get a smile from observers, and often outdraw much more expensive cars at shows. Have a very nice, 1958 model now, with Wisconsin motor, 2 speed auto trans, with reverse. I'm used to being surprised that, otherwise knowledgeable car guys have not heard of them. They are easy to find- just googlr=e– usually range from about $1600 TO OVER $6000.

  9. Bill says:

    I have a 1967 King Midget. It has been Mine since 1972. I was 13. My Dad found it in his travels. I love Cars and Motorcycles. This King Midget gets everyone's attention. Most people have never heard of it.

  10. Jim says:

    Our family had a 1962 King Midget which I drove to high school and many other places for two years. Also we had racks for attaching to the sides behind the doors for carrying our golf clubs. Drive to the course, take the doors off, and play. Wish I still had it. What fun!!!

  11. Slsair@att.net says:

    I have a 1970 for sell. Running and driving. 3rd owner. Always garaged. Slsair@att.net

  12. Rick says:

    Everyone out there beware there is a Scott tuner out to sell you a king midget. Tried to sell us one that we already have sitting in our garage. Says he lives I michigan does anyone out there have on for sale?

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