Where Did Kissel Kars Come From

by Freida Lamb

In 1906, Louis Kissel, along with sons George and William, established their own automobile manufacturing company. The business was located in Hartford, WI, and was known for manufacturing high quality custom-built cars. The business had a good reputation, however, the business closed down during the peak of The Great Depression.

'Every Inch a Car' was the car manufacturer's slogan, which was well known in Wisconsin. The slogan refers strongly to the business's dedication in creating high quality, innovative cars. They were the first ones to use indirect dashboard lighting as well. Their biggest achievement were the 6 and 8 cylinder units that were manufactured in 1909 and 1925, respectively.

The eight cylinder vehicles were a huge hit when it was launched in the mid-1920's. This made the manufacturer end up on top of the vehicle industry, and allowed them to compete with other huge names in the market. Two of their famous vehicles were the White Eagle and Gold Bug Speedster models.

The company also manufactured the All Year model. The vehicle was famous for its removable hard top, curtain, and glass windows. The company boasted of their illuminated instrument panel, which was one of their best innovations.

Just when things were doing great for automobile manufacturers, The Great Depression hit the United States. This sent almost every business down the drain in the late 1920's. By September 1930, the company can no longer handle the losses, and filed for bankruptcy.

To date, only around twenty pre-war cars still exist. The models are those that were manufactured between 1909 and 1915. If not for losses during the late 1920's, the company could've made it through until today. In 1935, however, the company was rebuilt. They created engines for Sears, Roebuck, and Company. After the George passed away in 1942, the company was sold to West Bend Aluminum Company. A 2007 auction in Pebble Beach, CA sold some of the vehicles for around $55,000. Another car was again auctioned in 2008. There are still several cars on display at the Wisconsin Automotive Museum in Hartford.

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