The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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August 10, 2012

Kings of the Road

King Midgets Jamboree brings tiny cars to town

SHENANGO VALLEY — King Midgets are to car lovers what Hershey’s Kisses are to chocoholics: Treats packed into tiny packages.

“They’re cute,” King Midget enthusiast James Ward of Butler said Thursday during a pit stop at Joy Cone Co. in Hermitage.

Ward is playing host to the 2012 King Midget Jamboree, a gathering of the go-kart sized automobiles that are street-legal and sure to turn heads on two-lane roads.

With a top speed of about 45 mph, they’re not practical to drive on the highway, but they’re a blast to take to car shows and the like, Ward said.

“They’re just fun,” Ward said. “If I take this somewhere, people swarm” me.

The cars were manufactured in limited numbers from 1946 to 1970, first sold as kit cars and later as road-ready novelties, according to a history published on the International King Midget Car Club’s Website.

It was officially billed as the “World’s Number One Fun Car,” and Ward said it lives up to its name.

“They are different,” he said.

They’re made by Midget Motors, an Athens, Ohio, company that’s still in business, although the cars themselves aren’t in production.

The cars were marketed “in the back of magazines like Popular Mechanics,” Ward said. Now, they’re sold online and the International King Midget Car Club Inc. has a website where owners trade tales.

Each year they gather for a jamboree and this year Mercer County was picked, with Ward, who works here, as the host.

Because of steep hills in and around Butler, Ward chose the Hermitage area because of ready access to hotels and tourist attractions.

Sixty-four cars and about 140 people registered for the jamboree and participants spent Thursday driving around the Shenango Valley, touring Joy Cone and the Shenango Dam, and visited Daffin’s Candies in Sharon.

Today, they plan a visit to Pymatuning and Tara in Clark, Ward said.

Brothers Bud and Bill Clark of Galien, Mich., are among the people who came to the jamboree. They were satisfying their sweet tooths at Daffin’s and said they enjoyed the sights this year.

“It’s been interesting,” Bud Clark said, although Bill admitted the roads in Sharon were a bit rough.

“This is a nice area. It’s scenic,” Bud Clark said.

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