Kissels were built in Hartford, WI, between 1908 and 1931. Amelia Earhart, Al Jolson, Jack Dempsey and Fatty Arbuckle all drove Kissels. This car was owned and restored by tire manufacturer Tom Lester. Marketed as 'The Custom Car,' each Kissel was ordered from the factory with a choice of: Pancake, drum or bullet headlights; one, two or three bumper bars; running boards or step brackets; leather or fabric upholstery; side or rear mounted spare wheels; golf bag brackets; and rear seat placement. This example is one of six 8-75 Speedsters known to survive.By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2007
Cars for the Starts
Founded in 1907, the Kissel Kar Company was established by two grandsons of German immigrants in Hartford, Wisconsin. The Kissel family had become successful as hardware merchants, property owners, land developers and lumber mill operators in the late 19th Century. When they decided to enter the automobile business they immediately hired Herman Palmer, another German immigrant with an engineering background and J. Fredrich Werner, a German coachbuilder who was living in America.
In 1918, the word 'Kar' was replaced by 'Car' in reaction to the post World War One anti-German sentiment. The Kissel Car Company produced cars, trucks and ambulances. With a reputation for building sporty and fast vehicles, they began supplying vehicles to many of Hollywood's premier movie stars including Fatty Arbuckle, Al Jolson, and Mary Pickford. Production of automobiles came to an end in late 1930.
This sporty example is the only known speedster built on the Model 8-65 chassis. It is powered by an inline, eighty-cylinder engine which was rated at 65 horsepower.