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Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I had to jump in and follow the Detroit Autorama last weekend so back to the six day trek!
At the end of day 2 it was nothing but a sprint through Minnesota to Wisconsin for the night, I try to get myself positioned close to my AM stop. Sometimes a museum opens 10 AM which leaves some drive time in the AM, but the rule is settle in as the sun is going down. During the "season" I will search for cruise nights to occupy my time too.
Wisconsin Auto Museum Hartford Wisconsin
Kissel Motor Cars
This museum is in the very nicely done community center and I have seen that a few times in the midwest, it seems many auto museums although accepted are cast out of the main path of most average folks. Many museums start as a tribute to preserving the history of a long gone auto maker who once thrived in the area. 
In Hartford Wisconsin Louis (Ludwig) Kissel built cars and trucks from 1906 to 1931 
Originally opening a hardware store with his 4 sons that distributed engines of all manufacturers.They built and distributed farm equipment and outboard boat engines, remember that. There were 35,000 automobiles built and it believed only 150 survive today!  
Known as Kissel Kar linked it to family German heritage,later they used the name White Eagle to distance that connection!

Keeping track I hope? There are about 25 Kissel's here at most times 1/6th of all that exist! 
I love that they saved so much from the original factory!

"Gold Bug" Speedster the choice of many celebrities including Amelia Earhart, I found the car now we just got to find her!  

I really enjoy seeing cars in this original shape as found

Quickly pointed out in the museum it was not the Kissel Factory, but once was a Libby's Canning factory!
The factory evolved after the car building days into outboard motor production eventually becoming  the Sears line,but most exciting is Chrysler's outboard plant was here!
The factory at 123 Kissel Drive is now spanking new housing with row after row of neat little houses with no mention of the history once made there!    

More rare cars line the museum 
Built in Muncie Indiana, a state with very large list of car builders once

Built in Elkhart Indiana - stand by CARHUNTER gets there later!

Built in Pontiac Michigan, yes they later were called a Pontiac, odd twist here huh?

Started in Tarrytown NY, once acquired by Walter P. Chrysler became the first Chryslers!!    

A Whippet above, I could have just said that!
Some say I run through museums taking photo's, nope my brain is like a sponge so 

Let's try and follow this one Willy's motor cars merged with Overland in Toledo Ohio
Follow along now as Willy's starts taking other companies, they were only second to Ford at one time
Electric Auto Lite Company
Russell Motor Car Company
Purchased the Duesenberg factory in NJ
Hired Walter P. Chrysler to save the company (no Chrysler car company yet)
Later sold that factory to Billy Durant who started GM and was tossed out of GM later
Durant's namesake Durant car was later called the Star then the Flint!
   So what does this have to do with this car?
Whippet was an offshoot of Willy's-Overland although short lived
I am not done yet
Joseph W. Frazer is hired and was the originator of GMAC financing 
Later worked with Walter P. Chrysler at Maxwell Chalmers (Chalmers another brand that blended in the soup)
Frazer suggests the Plymouth name to Chrysler.
Plymouth was already used by a small yard switcher locomotive so Chrysler sued them for the name, turns out the locomotive maker built one car under the name Plymouth, rolled it into the court and reversed the lawsuit? 

Nope he settled for a small payment and sold the Plymouth name to Chrysler- oops!!

 Willy's pioneers the General Purpose vehicle for the military GP say it fast a few times and it sound like Jeep, yes Jeep became another marque under Willy's
Willy's Jeep
Frazer goes to Graham-Paige cars
Henry J Kaiser hooks up with Frazer and Kaiser Frazer motor cars arrives 
Sears starts selling Henry J's under the Allstate name at Sears stores showrooms

Sears sold cars and scooters, there is a reason old Sears stores have large seperate showrooms and service departments as auto/tire centers today, think about your old Sears store setup?
Kaiser motors purchases Willy's
My first Dealership job at the first Willy's dealer in the state of NY was a Kaiser  dealer at one time as well!
A service manual and bottle of Kaiser wax was to remain in place as per the owner as a reminder! 
Willy's name disappears
Rambler became a marque someplace in here 
I almost left out AM general who built the Postal "Jeeps", many military vehicles, buses and eventually the Hummer line! 

Also Wheel Horse mowers which became Toro later 
AMC engines were used in many other vehicles including some International Trucks to fill gaps in production, some early AMC engines were actually made by other manufacturers like the 225 V6 in Jeeps was a Buick, 151 4 cylinders were old Pontiac Iron Dukes!  
Kaiser - Jeep  is sold to American Motors in 1970 AMC
American Motors previously was the merger of Nash-Kelvinator (evolved later to electrolux vacuums) (Charles W. Nash was past president of General Motors who bought the Jeffrey Motor car company, the original Rambler cars later resurrected by Nash-Rambler, American Rambler and AMC Rambler ) Motor Cars and Hudson Motor Cars
Nash was also president of Lafayette motors later merged it into the Nash Line
George W Romney ran AMC later became Governor of Michigan   
His son Mitt Romney former Governor of Massachusetts ran for president last election
Ten years later Renault takes control of American Motors
1985 Chrysler contracts AMC to build Dodge Diplomat's, Plymouth Gran Fury's, Dodge Omni's and Plymouth Horizon's in the AMC Kenosha Wisconsin plant setting the stage for the future.
Renault 21's are sold as the  Renault Medallion in AMC Jeep dealers
Renault Premiers are shipped to AMC dealers based on Renault 25 chassis, but built in Canada
I was working for AMC in September 1987 when we were told to remove the Renault emblems from the Premiers and put on the new name Eagle which was originally used on AMC all wheel drive cars 

Chrysler started to take control of AMC/Jeep now
The premier was later sold as a Dodge Monaco as well
At the end of the 80's AMC disappears and Eagle name is dropped 
Jeep is now a division of Chrysler   
Just this last year Jeep Grand Cherokee came out with an Overland Edition so they did recall the Willys Overland routes!
  So it's just a Whippet,huh?

Metz of Massachusetts 
A bunch of Kenosha Wisconsin built Nash's 

Now part of Nash

A museum seems a bit more interesting when the history of the local car is preserved!

One Crazy Henry J

Maserati owned Citroen for a short stint 

Big Block Chrysler  powered Jensen 

A joint project with British car designer Donald Healey later even Italian builder Pinin Farina made this, in my opinion one of the most beautiful cars ahead of its time! 
Healey name best name for the Jensen Healey and Austin Healey cars  

1 comment:

  1. Interesting history as to how these American companies ended up.