1926 Kissel 6-55 Gold Bug Two-Passenger Speedster
Engine no. 55-13294
265ci L-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Updraft Carburetor
3-Speed Manual Transmission
Front and Rear Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
*One of the most celebrated designs of the 1920s
*Favored model among celebrities of the day
*The epitome of "Roaring Twenties" motoring style
*Rare and desirable late specification example
*Well restored to a high standard
The Kissel Motorcar Company
Few cars from the 1920s are more memorable and enduring than the Kissel "Gold Bug". They embodied the spirit of the carefree "Roaring Twenties" better than just about any car. Their dynamic sporty looks and novel features, such dual golf bag mounts, made them an icon of the day. They were the favored transport of many celebrities of the day, including Amelia Earhart, Indy 500 winner Ralph DePalma and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.
The Kissel Motorcar Company was started by the German immigrant brothers George and Will Kissel in 1906. Based in Hartford, Wisconsin, the company initially called its motorcars "Kissel Kar". The anti-German sentiment around World War 1 saw the 'Kar' dropped from the name. The firm produced good quality, mid-priced cars exhibiting sound engineering, and they soon garnered a reputation for reliability and good performance. Their initial effort was quite an undertaking - a four-cylinder 30hp car in 1907; shortly thereafter, in 1909, a 6-cylinder model was introduced, and the ambitious company even produced a V12 powered car in 1917. But it would be their L-head long-stroke six, introduced in 1915, that would prove to be their most venerable product, staying in production till 1928.
Kissel's most famous and enduring product, the "Gold Bug" Speedster was actually the mastermind of one of the company's dealers. New York distributor Conover T. Silver commissioned the Speedster to his own design. The sporty Silver-designed Kissels even carried his name for a time. The "Gold Bug" designation came from a naming contest for the sports car organized by Kissel and was chosen from over 500 submissions.
The Kissel Speedster's sleek two-seat body with its sporty cycle fenders wrapped the proven Kissel drivetrain and chassis. The stout Kissel-built long-stroke six powered the machine. This reliable engine made over 60hp and offered strong torque, the result being snappy performance thanks to its lightweight two-place body. The engine runs through a three speed transmission and is mated to a rear axle with sufficiently tall gearing for the daring high-speed motorist.
The Motorcar Offered
This desirable late example of Kissel's famous Speedster has been expertly restored to a level of authenticity rarely seen on these cars. Even the smallest details have not been overlooked. Perhaps the most striking features of this example are its extremely rare Wood-Lite headlights, something not available on the earlier models, as well as the rarely seen rear-mounted spare that gives the Kissel an even racier appearance than normal. An examination of the engine compartment shows exceptional attention to detail and accuracy.
Reportedly in fine operational condition today, these late Gold Bugs are sought after for their improved features over earlier models, most importantly four-wheel hydraulic brakes. The majority of "Gold Bugs" are the earlier type with two-wheel mechanical brakes, limiting their practicality. These later cars have a clean, refined look more akin to the classic era, though in 1926 few other cars as sporty as this were produced. Not till 1928 with the introduction of the Stutz Blackhawk and the Auburn Speedster did America have such sports-oriented models.
This Gold Bug has been part of a prominent New York collection for nearly 15 years. The Kissel was acquired from noted collector Stanford Block in 1999. Mr. Block was well-known for collecting cars of this era and for having excellent examples. Since restoration the car has been expertly cared for in a private museum setting. Seen infrequently on the show circuit, it is now ready to make a reappearance.
Few early American cars attract more attention and turn more heads than a Kissel Gold Bug Speedster. With stunning looks, good road manners and the potential for many winner's laurels on the show circuit, they represent great value as one of America's first true sports cars.
- Please note that the chassis number for this vehicle is 5513231.