King Midget car celebrated in Athens

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ATHENS, Oh.-(WTAP) Mark Miller is a former Athens resident who now lives in Minnesota. He finally made good on his dream of owning a car once built in his home town.

"Always wanted one since I was a little kid," said Miller, who was in Athens Friday for the celebration of the car's 70th anniversary. "(I've only had) just the one, and that's enough in our family right now, I think."

Others own more than one-at least the ones left from when these early "smart cars" were manufactured in Athens during the post-war baby boom era.

"We lived right on the street where they tested them," says Glen Goins, an Athens city employee who organized this weekend's King Midget Jamboree. "It's a fantastic car, and I thought, if I ever get a chance to buy one, I'm going to do it. One led to two, two led to three and it's just a fantastic thing to bring them back for the 70th anniversary."

There aren't really any existing records of how many King Midgets were made in 25 years in Athens, or how many still exist. But it's safe to say there were thousands built between 1946 and 1969.

And, for this milestone year, there's even been a new one built. They were tested on one of Athens steepest streets Saturday morning. But even back in the day, the gas mileage was well above that of the more common cars of the time.

"Back in the day, when these cars were advertised in mechanics magazines, they said they could get up to 100 miles per gallon," says Lee Seats, President, King Midget Collectors Club. "So this year, we have people bringing in cars to try to see if they can hit 100 miles a gallon."

A permanent collection of King Midget memorabilia is now on display at Ohio University's Alden Library.

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