The recently constructed and soon-to-debut King Midget Club Special car, which will be unveiled on Thursday, Aug. 11, the first day of the 26th annual King Midget Jamboree. (Submitted)

26th Annual King Midget Jamboree Slated for Aug. 11-13

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Next weekend, Aug. 11 through Aug. 13, marks a very special event for vintage car enthusiasts from all over globe: the 26th annual King Midget Jamboree right here in Athens, OH.

The King Midget, a diminutive vehicle that was developed, created and distributed between 1940 and 1970 by Athens’ own Midget Motors Corporation, is a feat of mechanics that is celebrated yearly by the International King Midget Car Club with their summertime Jamboree. The vehicles were famously constructed using some recycled World War II surplus, and early models have been described as achieving astounding gas mileage, as high as 80 to 100 miles per gallon.

A photo of a King Midget Jamboree from a few years ago. (
A photo of a King Midget Jamboree from a few years ago. (

For the past ten years Lee Seats has served as the president of the International King Midget Car Club, a passion that he says dates back to a few magazines that he got his mitts on as a child several decades ago.

“When I was a kid someone gave me a couple of Popular Science magazines, and that’s where I first saw the ads for King Midget,” said Seats. “I thought that was just awesome, and I thought that a King Midget would be great to have as a kid, to have a little car like that. But by then the company was bankrupt, and it was too late to get one.”

Fast forward to the year 2001, and Seats was leafing through an edition of Old Car Weekly when he spotted an advertisement for a King Midget. He called the person who had posted the ad, but, alas, the vehicle had been sold only moments before Seats gave the seller a call. Shortly after he managed to really get his hands on a King Midget, and things haven’t been the same for him since.

“At the time I thought that I was just saving something from the junk pile, but actually it created a whole new network of friends and a whole different world of opportunities,” he said. “So I went to my first Jam in 2003 in Springfield, Ohio and then I hosted one in 2004 in Bristol, Tennessee. I became vice president of the International King Midget Car Club in 2005, and I became the president in 2006.”

Although Seats expressed that he doesn’t work on the cars as much as he used to, he still finds the community around the vehicles to be deeply rewarding.

Seats is excited for this year’s Jamboree, stating that the event will include a 100-gallon challenge (where King Midget enthusiasts put the car’s claimed mileage to the test), the opening of the King Midget Archives in the special collections department of Ohio University’s Alden Library and the High Street Hill Climb.

Randy Chestnut, Bob Vahsholtz and Lee Seats, the chief creators of the King Midget Club Special, pose in the vehicle. (Submitted)
Randy Chestnutt, Bob Vahsholtz and Lee Seats, the chief creators of the King Midget Club Special, pose in the vehicle. (Submitted)

The 2016 edition of the event also boasts the very special unveiling of the King Midget Club Special, a near replica of the original King Midget that several club members worked tirelessly on for the past year. Seats said that the King Midget Club Special is very much like the original car, although its frame is wooden instead of metal. The car will debut on Thursday, July 11 in the parking lot of the Market Mall.

The schedule of events for this year’s Jamboree are as follows:

Thursday, August 11

5 p.m. to 7 p.m. King Midget cars will be on display at the Market Mall on East State Street in Athens and the new King Midget Club Special will be officially introduced.

Friday, August 12

8:30 a.m. The 100 mpg challenge will begin
9:30 a.m. Other King Midget enthusiasts will head to Shade, OH to Fossil Rock Raiders Model Train Barn.
3 p.m. The grand opening of the King Midget display at the Alden Library.
5 p.m. to 8 p.m. A King Midget cruise-in on Court Street.

Saturday, August 13

9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. The King Midgets will attempt to make the legendary High Street Climb
3 p.m. to 4 p.m. The group will be in Nelsonville for a train ride on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway.

For more information on the event, visit the International King Midget Car Club’s website.