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Of the 1,000 marques that came and went in American motoring during the 20th century, the vast majority have been forgotten by all but a few. It is both a shame and a surprise that the Kissel is among those ranks, as, in its heyday in the early 1920s, it was the pride of Hartford, Wisconsin, and was more than just a good car. It was considered one of America’s finest, with its sporty speedster models achieving as much popularity with celebrities of the time as Ferraris and Porsches do today. Kissel built some 35,000 cars in its time, while only about 150 survive today.
In many ways, 1929 represents Kissel’s golden year. Sales had begun to slag, and the Great Depression would soon finish off the company’s auto-making efforts. Nonetheless, the firm presented its largest, most powerful, and most impressive model series yet, the so-called White Eagle. The White Eagle was distinguished by a new, flat radiator shell and more modern styling, as well as by a choice of Lycoming eight-cylinder engines. Leading the lineup was the speedster, the updated variant of the “Gold Bug” design that had been Kissel’s most famous offering. Seating two adults snugly in a torpedo-shaped body, complete with “semi-boattail” rear, the car was so sporty that it came with tie-downs for its owner’s golf bags on the fenders.
Of the 681 Kissels built in 1929, the car shown here is the only 8-95 White Eagle Speedster that survives today. It remains an irreplaceable artifact of its time and place. As the sole surviving White Eagle, it is offered from 35 years of caring private ownership, during which it has been displayed at the owner’s climate-controlled museum and occasionally driven and enjoyed. Showing the modest road wear earned in that enjoyment, it is offered with its original top bows and is presented in a classic cream and green typical of this model, with green leather upholstery.
Importantly, this model has been afforded Classic Car Club of America Full Classic status, and as the lone remaining example of its type, this particular car is virtually guaranteed to be the only one just like it at any Grand Classic or CARavan. It is sporty, powerful, luxurious, and brawnily all-American—everything that the Kissel name stood for, to those “in the know,” in the 1920s.
Kissel Kars and Kissels were built in Hartford, Wisconsin from 1907 to 1931. The company built cars, trucks and funeral cars. In 1929 the company built a total of 881 units with only 681 as passenger cars. The White Eagle Speedster was easily Kissel’s sportiest offering.
In the early 1920s, the Kissel Kar Company was the pride of Hartford, Wisconsin. The cars they produced were considered one of America’s finest. Though the company may not be known in modern times, during their lifespan they built some 35,000 cars. Today, about 150 examples exist.
The White Eagle was the company’s largest, most powerful, and most impressive model series of the Kissel Kar Company. They had a new, flat radiator shell and more modern styling, as well as a choice of Lycoming eight-cylinder engines. The Speedster body style was the updated variant of the ‘Gold Bug’ design that had been Kissel’s most famous offering. It allowed seating for two adults in a torpedo-shaped body, complete with ‘semi-boattail’ rear, along with tie-downs for its owner’s golf bags on the fenders.
This 8-95 White Eagle Speedster is the only known survivor. It spent 35 years in private ownership, during which it was displayed at the owner’s climate-controlled museum and occasionally driven and enjoyed.
Power is from a 246.5 cubic-inch L-Head Lycoming eight-cylinder engine offering 95 horsepower. There is a three-speed manual transmission and four-wheel hydraulic brakes.
- 95 bhp, 246.5 cu. in. Lycoming L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 125 in.
- Offered from 35 years of private ownership
- One of the greatest American cars of the Jazz Age
- The only 8-95 White Eagle Speedster in existence
- CCCA Full Classic