Just after World War II ended the car business was booming. All those GI’s coming home wanting something new and/or cool to drive. Claud Dry and Dale Orcutt cashed in on that and created the King Midget in 1946. For a time, their company, Midget Motors Corporation was the sixth-largest auto manufacturer. The car was built until 1970. I spotted this at a recent car show in town.
The Model 3 was sold fully assembled, and advertised in magazines like Popular Mechanics and Mechanix Illustrated. It was powered by a rear-mounted, air-cooled, one-cylinder Wisconsin or Kohler engine making 9.2 or 12 horsepower mated to a two-speed automatic transmission. It has a fully independent suspension and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. It gets around 50 mpg and had a top speed of about the same. The 177-inch runabout rides on eight-inch wheels. The car ranged in price from just under $900 up to a bit over $1,000 during its 13-year run. If you’re looking to get into the old car hobby, this is a great entry point. According to NADA pricing, today’s low and high values are $4,300 to $13,000. This car reminds me of Corvairs and VW Beatles in that their smiles per gallon factor are huge.
I love unusual cars. Maybe that’s why I like AMC cars so much. They tend to attract me. So I was at this car show in Florida recently where there were all kinds of cool Corvettes, Ford GTs, and even a 1970 AMX. But it was this Rodster that caught my eye. It’s called the Cruisin’ Machine and it’s a kit car.
The Rodster is the brainchild of Henry Caroselli, a talented designer with a background in award-winning advertising work for the Mazda RX-7, the Miata, and a stint at the Magic Kingdon. His intent with the Rodster was to design a cruisin’ machine with several styling traits of historic automobilia and place it on a stout, modern chassis that would make the build easy and make the finished car reliable and dependable and a drive-anywhere looker. The kit costs $3,999 and includes all the body parts and interior. The builder just needs to acquire a Chevy/GMC S-10 Blazer/Jimmy. If you like to build, this one is for you. It’s certainly something you don’t see every day.
You would not have to walk more than ten feet in our house to see examples of my work. I’ve been building plastic model car kits since I was a kid and it seems like only yesterday that my dad sent me a box of balsa which would become my first radio control airplane. About 30 years later my plane builds have become more complex like the F-16 with a real turbine. This picture was taken two years ago at the EAA’s (Experimental Aircraft Association’s) AirVenture event held every year in Oshkosh, WI. Yup, that’s me, and my daughter Meg, on the ramp with my jet’s big brother thanks to the USAF Thunderbird team that had performed that week. The entire team autographed my plane. Fun stuff.