Q: Greg, my sister and I have a 1970 King Midget car and we would like to know if you could tell us about it and how much it might be worth? Thanks so much, Georgia and Hazel, Lee's Summit, Missouri.
A: Happy to oblige, Georgia and Hazel. After World War II, two Americans came up with a single-cylinder-powered roadster in kit car form called "King Midget."
The inventors were Claude Dry and Dale Orcutt, former Civil Air Patrol pilots. For only the $270, consumers received a single-seat automobile that was styled like the midget race cars that were booming in popularity across the country.
Unlike the real race cars, the King Midget developed only 6-horsepower from its one-cylinder engine and they were street legal with small eight-inch tires. King Midget's start similar to a lawn mower, give it a good yank and stand back!
The second generation came in 1951 in either kit or assembled form, cost about double the price of the first series, and featured seating for two.
Produced until 1957, these roadsters were slightly more usable in that they featured a convertible top and a little bit of extra power.
The style also changed, going from Midget Race car appearance to a “Jeepster” or “VW Thing” style. In its third evolution, the King Midget gained doors and grew from 102 inches to 117 inches in length. The horsepower increased to 10.
Since no dealers existed for the "mail order midget," buyers who passed on word-of-mouth advertising resulting in a sale received a commission.
The King Midget also sold decent numbers through print ads in Popular Mechanics and Popular Science magazines, one of which I saw and nearly ordered back in 1966.
Your 1970 King Midget is the best of the bunch and its fourth and final generation. The engine switched from a Wisconsin single-cylinder engine to a Kohler engine that produces 12 horsepower. Your King Midget can reach 50-mph because it weighs only about 695 pounds. They also average about 60-miles-per-gallon.
The 1970 Midget runs on a 76.5-inch wheelbase and is actually a 1969 built model, which was its final year and sold through 1970. It offered options like deluxe trim, doors, speedometer, turn signals, windshield wipers and seatbelts.
In 1966, Dry and Orcutt sold the business, but the new owners ran it into bankruptcy in 1969. A third owner tried to revive the car in 1970, but the effort failed.
Today, King Midgets are popular on the collectible market as an “estimated guess” of only 5,000 were ever built. No official records were kept, so no one is really sure.
Your King Midget cost approximately $1,000 in 1969, but I should note that Barrett-Jackson sold one for over $14,000 if I remember correctly. I’d say non-Barrett-Jackson used models should go for anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000.
A company in Ohio called Midget Motors still sells parts for your car, and is planning the release of a new Midget Motors Kit Car.
They can be contacted at www.midgetmotors.com or call them at 419-663-9287 for more information. Hope this all helps.