The Kissel Motor Car Company was an Americanautomobile and truck manufacturing company founded by Louis Kissel and his sons, George and William, on June 5, 1906 in Hartford, Wisconsin. The company custom built high-quality automobiles, hearses, fire trucks, taxicabs, and trucks from their plant at 123 Kissel Avenue, Hartford. Kissel manufactured trucks of 3/4, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 tons, and maintained a sales office at 2515 Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois in early 1913. During World War I the company produced trucks for the military and prospered after the war but with stiff competition and the Great Depression, mounting losses, and an attempted hostile take-over by New Era Motors' president Archie Andrews forced Kissel to file for receivership protection in November, 1930.
1920's Kissel Fire Truck - 2008 Hartford, WI 4th of July Parade
Advertised as "KisselKar," of the 35,000 automobiles the company produced, only 150 are known to exist today. The Wisconsin Automotive Museum of Hartford has several of these remaining cars on display. The most famous car was one the company donated to Hollywood actress Anita King for her transcontinental trip in 1915 that marked the first-ever such trip by a female driving alone. The most popular Kissel model was the 1919 Speedster, nicknamed the Gold Bug. The two passenger Gold Bug was owned by famous personalities of the time such as actor Fatty Arbuckle and aviator Amelia Earhart. Beginning in 1927, Kissel also produced the sporty White Eagle Speedster.
Kissel used Mercury as its logo. In the late 1930s, Henry Ford requested use of the logo for a new marque the Ford Motor Company was planning to introduce, and permission was granted.