Stored 54 Years: 1953 King Midget Model II

The King Midget: “the smallest, most economical fun car made in America today”, according to one of many period reviews and advertisements from the early-1950s. They are small and certainly economical and they could be considered fun cars by those of us who love them, but maybe not by many others. This 1953 King Midget Model II can be found here on craigslist in Turlock, California and the seller is asking $2,750 or best offer. Ikey H. comes through again – thanks, Ikey!

How this King Midget got so rusty living in California I’ll never know. Vehicles do rust even in desert areas and other places west of the middle of the United States. Most of us who live east of the Mississippi River think that we have a lock on vehicles rusting, but that’s not the case, obviously. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen full doors on a King Midget and this one also has the convertible top frame.

King Midgets were made in Athens, Ohio, an area that knows a thing or two about rust. The panels are simple on this car for the most part, although the Model II, or Model 2, has that rounded “hood” (not really a hood, and the engine is in the back) compared to the later Model III cars which were almost all flat panels or simple bends in the sheet metal.

For a car that has been off the road and stored since 1966, it sure looks rough. Anything can be restored, of course, and it’s easier to start with a small project like this King Midget than a full-sized car. When the company wanted to upgrade the Model I and make the new two-seater Model II, it had to take a $35,000 loan to help build a new factory and it was a gamble, although that amount sounds laughable now. But, that gamble paid off with 1,500 Model IIs being sold.

The engine should be a 7.5-hp Wisconsin and as with everything else, it needs to be rebuilt and/or restored. This would be a great small project for anyone looking for their first restoration project. We know that there are a few King Midget owners out there, let’s hear those stories!


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  1. Had Two

    The fuel tank immediately adjacent to the short straight-pipe exhaust
    should provide excitement to the new owner!

    Like 3
  2. kiteflier

    Ouch! The older neighbor kid had one of these and we drove that thing all through the woods. Thing was unstoppable until he hit a tree and slammed my head into the dash. Got a huge knot on my forehead and parents put an end to those rides. During snowstorms he’d tow a line of kids on sleds and if he got stuck, we’d all get off our sleds and push him out. Kids loved that thing.

    Like 11
    • Jimmy Novak

      I remember Hardy Kruger in 1965’s “Flight of the Phoenix” replying to Jimmy Stewart’s referring to Kruger’s airplane design as a “thing”. He said “That “thing” has a name … it’s an airplane.”

      Like 1
  3. Fred W

    I’m only familiar with the later more square models, as seen in the ads in the back of Mechanix Illustrated circa 1970.

    Like 1
    • 370zpp 370zpp Member

      Didn’t they also sell these in the back pages of Popular Mechanics?

      Like 4
  4. Darrun

    I’ve owned a couple of the Model III’s, and currently have a 1967 in the garage as a project. They’re fun little cars. Kids love them at the car shows. This would make a nice father and son/daughter project for someone with limited space.

    Like 2
  5. Dave Stange Member

    I’d buy it. Except I don’t have the 25 clowns to put in it.

  6. Paolo

    I have a 1975 Ariens Rocket VII rototiller with a Wisconsin 7.5 HP engine. Maybe I should put it on Barn Finds.

    • 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

      That could be a real barn find!

      Like 1
  7. Lou Rugani

    There’s a King Midget group on Facebook that’s quite supportive.

    Like 2
  8. Guggie 13

    When I was a kid in the 60s , a guy that lived in the town my grandmother lived in had one of these , my boyhood dream . just watch for frame rust although an easy fix

  9. Mr. Mower

    I ought to put this body on my lawn mower chassis

  10. Corky Aeh

    I lived in Athens , Ohio from 1974 until 2011 . I went to many of the KM rally’s while there !! I always wanted one !!!!

  11. Kelly Breen

    I love those cars.

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