1919 Kissel 6-45 Speedster
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Beginning in 1906 and until the First World War, George and Will Kissel built the Kissel Kar in Hartford, Wisconsin. Despite their conservative nature, the brothers set about building very progressive and stylish automobiles, including a rakish speedster that first appeared for 1918. Production struggled until Kissel fell into receivership in 1930, but not before attracting a rather formidable clientele – Fatty Arbuckle, Al Jolson, Amelia Earhart, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Rudy Vallee, amongst others.
This Kissel is the oldest Speedster of the 37 known to exist. All significant componentry is original to this car. It was first restored by C.R. Funk of Orchard Lake, Michigan, in the mid-to-late 1950s. By 1970 it had been acquired by the renowned Harrah Collection. Ralph Dunwoody, Harrah’s historian, extensively documented the car and his efforts are now part of the AACA Library and Research Center collection. Knox Kershaw of Montgomery, Alabama purchased the car after the Harrah sale in 1986. In 1990, it was acquired by Jane and Larry MacElree of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, who enjoyed it for nearly 30 years prior to being purchased by its current owner.
A documented restoration in 2017–2018 was undertaken by D.L. George Historic Motorcars of Cochranville, Pennsylvania. Preserving originality and historical accuracy was paramount. The car was returned to its original all-black color scheme, evidenced by the first coat of five when the paint was stripped. The original aluminum dash was discovered behind a newer replacement and is now fitted. Original running board and flooring materials were found underneath modern replacements. They too, have been revised to period-correct materials. The suspension, braking system, fuel system, gearbox, electrical system, and carburetor have been fully rebuilt. The engine and rear differential were disassembled and refreshed, but not found to be in need rebuilding.
Shown at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and Cool Cars for Kids at the Simeone Foundation Museum in 2018, the newly restored Kissel received the Heritage Award at The Elegance at Hershey that same year after participating in the Grand Ascent Hill Climb at Hershey in 2017.To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/am19.