King Midget in the Late Forties
By late 1946, Dale Orcutt and Claude Dry were ready to go into production with a tiny car of their own design, which they called the King Midget. This was a single-seater, styled like a quarter midget race car, with scooped door openings -- but no doors or top.
Planned as simple transportation for any person handy with tools, the cars were initially sold as kits consisting of chassis parts that could be assembled by the home hobbyist. Included were plans for making the body, although no body parts themselves were available. These kits were sold initially for around $50. A handy person would assemble the chassis parts, cut and shape a body, then install any one-cylinder engine he wanted to use. It appears that other kits, which included more parts, were later offered.
Reportedly, a few early Midget owners installed three-speed manual motorcycle gearboxes in their cars, but Orcutt soon came up with a single-speed, centrifugal-clutch automatic transmission, and that's what most of the early Midgets got. This gearbox didn't have a reverse gear, however. To back up, the driver had to get out and push!
In addition to the kits, some assembled cars were produced by the factory, for under $500, powered by a rear-mounted, air-cooled, six-horsepower Wisconsin engine.
Business was good, so by 1949 Orcutt and Dry were able to quit their regular jobs to become full-time automakers, now in a one-story warehouse converted to their needs (the two-story building had made producing fully completed cars very difficult, as final assembly was on the second floor). In any case, the first-series King Midget cars were offered through mid-1951.
For more information on cars, see: