The Kissel Automobile was built in Hartford, Wisconsin from 1907 to 1931. After production ceased, Kissel folded after an arrangement with Ruxton failed.
Like many German immigrant families in Wisconsin, the Kissels made their initial fortunes in the farming business and expanded into other business ventures including lumber mills, quarries, sand pits, real estate, and homebuilding. Vehicle production began in 1906 for the 1907 model year on a vehicle that featured a four-cylinder engine installed on a 96-inch wheelbase chassis. The quality of the Kissels' automobile was recognized by the prominent Chicago dealership W.A. McDuffee, who immediately placed an order for 100 cars for his dealership.
By 1909, Kissel was offering vehicles with three different engines and chassis variations with prices ranging from $1,350 to $3,000. The Kissel Company continued to grow and in 1915 introduced its famous long-stroke six-cylinder L-head engine which would be used with minimal changes until 1928.
The sportiest vehicles ever built by Kissel were designed by their New York distributor, Conover T. Silver. Among these sporting Kissels were a speedster that featured innovative use of two outrigger seats which slid in and out of the side of the body like a drawer. This model, known as the Goldbug Speedster, is considered to be one of the most desirable of all Kissel cars.
A 1920 Vanity Fair advertisement reads, 'The Kissel designing and construction policy interprets custom-built as a fact – not a theory; a practice – not a phrase. In every detail of equipment – under-the-surface, as well as on-the-surface – the most care is taken, not only to make each car complete, but of the custom-built quality and exclusiveness demanded by, and expected of, Kissel Tradition.'
In 1920, Kissel built three open and three closed custom-built cars. Each car was enhanced with 22 steps of hand rubbing and polishing involved in the treatment of the primer and finish coats of paint. The Kissel cars employed a double-drop frame which gave them a lower center of gravity and a lower vehicle profile.
In 1920, there were just 1,398 examples of the Custom Sixes produced by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2012
On January 23rd of 1919, two Kissel custom-built body styles were exhibited at the Chicago Auto Show. Kissel called them 'Silver Specials,' named after Conover T. Silver, a New York distributor, and his team of stylists who created these masterpieces....[continue reading]
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