So you want mpg? Try a King Midget!

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A King Midget automobile at a small collector car show.

Appearances aside, the King Midget is a real car. (Photo: Flickr)

Congested highways filled with gas-guzzling vehicles have helped create dirty air and countless budget sinkholes for consumers. Improved methods of public transportation and more fuel-efficient green vehicles have helped this problem to a great extent, but there is still room for improvement. Present options for change are frequently quite expensive. But when it comes to vehicles, one answer could come straight from the past. The King Midget, an American car made from 1946 to 1970, is as small as its name but boasts big mpg numbers.

King Midgets ‘will be the future kings of the road’

AutoWeek interviewed Dick Messer, director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, and found that the once forgotten King Midget vehicles still have quite a following, at least in the eastern United States. And it’s no wonder – the King Midget is small and inexpensive. The two-door convertible micro cars (70-plus-inch wheelbase) were initially sold as kits for $49, and these kits included the frame, axles, springs, steering and patterns to cut sheet metal for the body. They were also sold assembled. One-cylinder, two-speed automatic transmission engines varied from 6 hp all the way up to a “huge” 12 hp big block. Up to 50 mph is possible in a King Midget, as are 50 to 70 mpg figures. According to Wikipedia, prices varied in the 1950s from $500 to nearly $1,000.

What killed the King Midget?

As you might imagine, safety was a concern. Production of the King Midget ended in 1970s as federal crash requirements became more stringent. About 5,000 of the cars were made. The bodies of modern cars absorb much of the shock of a collision; the King Midget would pass much of that on to the driver’s body, resulting in more frequent injuries and death. But they look fun and get great mileage, don’t they?

Need used car loans for a King Midget?

Click the button below. Just be sure to check with your lender first to see if they’ll fund private party purchases, as you won’t find a King Midget at your standard used car dealer. Click the International King Midget Car Club link below to do some online window shopping if you’re serious about the King Midget. Prices appear to vary from around $1,000 to several thousand dollars.

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Sources:

AutoWeek

Wikipedia

International King Midget Car Club Classifieds

Vintage Vehicle Show interview with car collector Barry Hilbert:

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