For as long as there have been automobiles, there have been certain companies that have made substantial contributions to the advancement of the industry. Whether it was through a technological innovation, a trend setting feature or some truly appealing design idea, certain models set the guidelines for many to follow. One such manufacturer was the Kissel Motor Car Company who introduced many concepts that are still in use.

Louis Kissel officially started the company on June 5, 1906 with his four sons, George, William, Adolph and Otto. They set up shop in the town of Hartford, Wisconsin and began manufacturing high quality machines including cars, utility vehicles, trucks, fire engines, taxis and even hearses. They built a reputation for themselves by producing beautiful and dependable automobiles at a reasonable price.

Before filing bankruptcy in 1930, the company thrived for twenty-four years and produced over 35,000 vehicles. The vehicles were built so well and were so dependable that a large number of them were actually passed down through generations of the original purchaser’s family. Unfortunately, there are only roughly 150 of these treasures known to have survived today though sadly not all have been properly cared for or preserved.

This company was known for manufacturing vehicles that were completely customized to the preferences of their new owners. Each one that was produced was specially ordered for an individual. Customers were able to make certain option choices such as whether to have pancake drum or bullet style headlights, running boards or step brackets, how many bumper bars they desired, leather or fabric upholstery, spare wheels on mounted on the side or the rear and were even given the opportunity to have golf bag brackets installed.

The complete customization of each vehicle was only one of the many innovative influences this company made on the industry. They came up with several improvements in engine design as well as body features. Indirect dashboard lighting and selective sliding gear transmissions were some of the great options placed on certain models.

During their first twelve years of business, the company’s primary focus was on engineering dependable vehicles with the attention to fine craftsmanship being evident. As the economy changed and people’s tastes became more extravagant, the new models started taking on a more stylized and elegant appearance. It was not at all uncommon to see solid rubber tires with wooden spokes on these cars as well as certain luxuries like curtains and removable hard tops.

The Speedster was one of Kissel’s more popular models. It featured several advancements in engineering technology that those enjoying speed were drawn too and a sleekly attractive body style that caught the eyes of many. It was a favorite of several celebrities from that era like Fatty Arbuckle, Greta Garbo, Al Jolson and the incredible Amelia Earhart.

Kissel cars were highly respected vehicles of their time and remain among the most treasured of the modern era. The company claims to have invented and introduced several engineering innovations, such as the illuminated dashboard, to the industry, and it is no doubt that they provided amazing style influences for the future designers. Their impact in the field of automotive manufacturing is undeniable and quite substantial.

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