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1923 Kissel Gold Bug Barn Find


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All,

Thought that I would post a few pictures of a 1923 Kissel Model 6-45 Gold Bug Speedster which I have "found" and will purchase and restore. I say "found" loosely, because this car has been known about by the 150 or so of us Kissel owners, but it has been sitting in a shed since, no kidding, 1954 when it was purchased by the then current owner. After years of discussion, he is selling it to me with the promise that I will restore this car to its former glory. I will. It is one of now 4 complete 1923 Kissel Model 6-45 Gold Bug Speedsters. It's the real-deal, with suicide seats, big Kissel 6-45 engine, Buffalo Number 5 wheels, and beautiful undented body parts. I already own the Ruger 6-45 Gold Bug, pictured, and there is one at the Fourney Museum in Denver (Amelia Erhart's) and one in Virginia (?) that won National AACA award last year.

This new find has the correct "porthole" top. I have a spare 6-45 engine and any other parts necessary, as I purchased a 6-45 Speedster parts car which had burnt several years ago. Thos parts will now come in ver handy.

I need to finish my 1918 Kissel Model 6-38 Sedanette restoration to get on with this beauty!

Thanks,

Ron Hausmann P.E.

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Oh, and Ron, when we did the Gold bug we restored we had a batch of hubcap center medallions made. We only needed 5, we keep a couple here just as curiosities and we donated the rest of the 75 to the Hartford Heritage Museum. I assume they would still have quite a few. We had them made in Taiwan and they turned out great. Nickle plated with the black background silk screened in.

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There are several Gold Bugs claiming to be Amelia Erhart's car. She called hers the "Yellow Peril" but apparently drove it cross country at least once.

Restorer,

Haven't heard that but certainly possible. I do know that the Fourney Museum car, which is publicized to have been Erhardt's, is definately the wreck that was pictured in the Kissel archives before restoration by Fourney. I don't know how the wreck was tied to Erhardt. Coincidentally, I am going to Fourney museum this week and will try to get some provenance. Erhardt's Kissel Gold Bug is shown in one extant photograph and appears to definately be a 1923 Kissel 6-45, not a 1922 nor a 1924.

Also, this barn find has the original "Deluxe" Speedster trimmings for 1923, while mine has the "Hollywood Option" package, which is different and more "pimped out", and gregarious.

Thanks, RON HAUSMANN P.E.

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All,

Just FYI, yes if you look close, the front axle on the barn find Kissel is wrong. so are the front wheels. They were replaced in the 1950's with a huge Cadillac axle, with Buffalo number 6 wheel and they mounted a V-8 in her. However, they had thankfully saved the original Kissel front axle complete with the Buffalo #5 hubs, wheels, and caps which I have with the car. Also, I am in the middle of restoring a 1918 Kissel Model 6-38 Sedanette, the only one that survives, from two cars, and have learned that very, very many Kissel Model 6-38 parts and Model 6-45 parts interchange. The planets seem to have lined up correctly for a change.

Thanks, Ron Hausmann P.E.

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Ron you are a lucky man. Most of us can only dream of a opportunity like this. You must have a special relationship with the Stars and Planets. I know you have promised the previous owner a full restoration but it almost looks good enough for a "preservation" You already have one restored Gold Bug , as a pair they would make a great study in the different approaches to vintage car conservation.

Greg in Canada

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Thanks Greg. The pictures don't show alot of work that will need to be done to make this a show-winner, maybe a national winner. I plan on having it painted all yellow, except for the top and grey tires, like the Gold Bug on the cover of the Val Quant book. Many early Kissel Gold Bugs did have all yellow frames and fenders. Yes trouble to keep clean, but certainly striking!

RON HAUSMANN P.E.

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Ron, I am a practically no nothing about Kissels, so please excuse my ignorance in asking if these cars had paint codes from the factory? The color of the one in the pictures looks to be a blue or possibly a gray. If you restore it to original wouldn't that color be what should be on the car as original?

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Mark,

Kissels were "made to order" cars which also had a number of "standard" colors. You could order whatever you wanted, or just go with their standards.

Most, but not all of the early Kissel Gold Bug speedsters were painted yellow - that is actually how they became commonly known as "gold" bugs. But many were painted tan, Holland blue, and even a deep red. I suspect that the "barn find" Kissel Gold Bug was a custom blueish gray color, as that seems to be the prevailing color after "rust'.

The most common colors for Kissel Sedans, Roadsters, Speedsters, and their entire line from 1919 onwards were Holland Blue, Red, Yellow, Tan, and off-white. but you can find many other colors used. also, sometimes the fenders were black, sometimes not

Thanks, Ron Hausmann P.E>

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Ron,

Congratulations on a super find. The car looks to be in very original condition and almost too good to restore.

All Kissel speedsters were deluxe models up until 1925 when the Standard speedster was offered as an option in both 6 and 8 Cylinder models.

The B5 Buffalo wheels on the front of this speedster were used by Kissel on some of their 1927 Deluxe models cars with Timkin axles. The Buffalo wheels used from 1923 through 1926 were what I call the Jelly mould style and these were introduced with the new 1923 Model 6-55. The 1923 Model 6-45 models continued to use the HOUK style wheels until the end of production. In 1928 Kissel changed from Buffalo to Dayton wire wheels which continued through to the end of production in 1931.

I look forward to reading the progress reports on the restoration.

Cheers

John L

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Hey John,

Good to hear from you in Australia. When are you going to be stateside again?

If you know, what is the difference besides name, in Buffalo #5 wheels and Houk #5 wheels. Also, never heard of a B5 Buffalo. Educate us whenever you have a chance please. Also, this car is missing the steering column, with the triangular mounting bracket used on them. I have a spare column and steering gear, but not the control tubes within the shaft, nor the mounting bracket pieces, which would be nickel. Do you know where one might find one? Do you know what other cars may have used this settup?

Take Care, RON HAUSMANN P.E.

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  • 5 years later...
On 11/3/2014 at 7:42 AM, ron hausmann said:

All,

Thought that I would post a few pictures of a 1923 Kissel Model 6-45 Gold Bug Speedster which I have "found" and will purchase and restore. I say "found" loosely, because this car has been known about by the 150 or so of us Kissel owners, but it has been sitting in a shed since, no kidding, 1954 when it was purchased by the then current owner. After years of discussion, he is selling it to me with the promise that I will restore this car to its former glory. I will. It is one of now 4 complete 1923 Kissel Model 6-45 Gold Bug Speedsters. It's the real-deal, with suicide seats, big Kissel 6-45 engine, Buffalo Number 5 wheels, and beautiful undented body parts. I already own the Ruger 6-45 Gold Bug, pictured, and there is one at the Fourney Museum in Denver (Amelia Erhart's) and one in Virginia (?) that won National AACA award last year.

This new find has the correct "porthole" top. I have a spare 6-45 engine and any other parts necessary, as I purchased a 6-45 Speedster parts car which had burnt several years ago. Thos parts will now come in ver handy.

I need to finish my 1918 Kissel Model 6-38 Sedanette restoration to get on with this beauty!

Thanks,

Ron Hausmann P.E.

 

 

Ron,

 

Any updates on this?  Has it been pushed to the back while you work on finishing your other projects?

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Al - this Gold Bug restoration was pushed back. However, I was VERY fortunate a couple weeks ago to locate a previously unlisted Kissel 6-45 parts car in California. I bought it and now I have a complete correct Kissel 6-45 engine AND complete, un-cut chassis for the unrestored Gold Bug . Kissel 6-45 frames are longer and 6-45 engines are bigger, and the 6-45’s have the rare suicide seats. In my opinion, these are the best of the Kissel made sixes.
     Below are pictures of the Gold Bug with its incorrect front axle and cut frame, and also the just acquired Kissel 6-45 parts car. Between the two, I now have 100.000% of the parts to do a perfect restoration of this Kissel Model 6-45 Gold Bug Speedster. I’ll do that after I finish my current restoration, the 1918 Kissel Model 6-38 Army Truck. It’s discussed under the Restorations forum. 
thanks, Ron Hausmann P.E.

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Hi Ron, I am curious on how the frame on the unrestored Gold Bug was cut ?  Perhaps not good enough for a concours restoration like you specialise in but still salvageable ?  I know it's not your point of view but roughish "preserved"  cars are of significant interest to many. Just look at the case of the " Chasing Classic Cars " Stutz Bearcat.

I think many people can relate more to a cleaned up ; made drivable,  example of very desirable vintage cars than 98 point restorations.  The condition you found the Gold bug in is also part of its history. You have almost enough parts for two cars, someone should have that in mind rather than one really nice car plus an even bigger stack of

Kissel parts on your already overflowing shelving.  Have you noticed the pre war parts supply thread. In the long run many loose parts collection end up getting scrapped. 

 

Greg in Canada

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Thanks Greg,

     At some point before the Gold Bug was parked in its shed in 1956, (where I found it a few years ago) some idiot had split the front frame crossmember and welded a different front bar onto the frame, and widened the front of the frame, in order to put a V8 in it. And they disassembled the body. They put a bigger Cadillac front axle on with buffalo #6 front wheels on it. You can see this in the pictures. They never finished their Frankenstein.
    Although they saved the correct front axle and hubs, the frame was butchered. You could not use it to make a drive around car. 
      As to the touring parts car, it has no wood. I do have an earlier Kissel 6-45 frame which is not suitable for a Gold Bug, and spare 6-45 engine block and parts so it could be restored with a hell of a lot of work. But it actually is a “Standard Touring” body style, which was Kissels cheapest one.

      I may just leave the rest of the Kissel Touring parts for a future decision. But using the frame and engine to complete a 100% complete iconic Kissel Gold Bug is for certain.

      Thanks, Ron 

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I would certainly agree that this is not a preservation quality car. While it may be a "part of the car's history"? For so many cars, so is the crusher. There simply is not enough of this car still in decent original shape to judge the car as a true survivor.  While I have always been in favor of preserving nice originals, and have long been disappointed by people restoring cars that SHOULD have been preserved and NOT restored, I have also always believed that once some faint line has been crossed, a car should be restored. It would require so much work to make this car appear to be a survivor that it in reality would not be one.

Something I rarely actually say, because I really do not want to offend certain people? (Hopefully they won't see this here?) But I have never really been impressed by fake put-together "original" or "survivor" cars.

(There is one exception. A friend that has restored several wonderful cars over the years, as he is getting older, found that he really enjoys taking the piles of parts he has and taking pieces that are bad enough that nobody would consider using them for a good restoration to put together a driver car that looks rusty. He truly enjoys doing it, and he is very open and honest about what the finished rust bucket is and is not! And enjoying it is what it is all about, a good thing.)

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I would have to see Ron's car in person before I reached any definite conclusion. It's quite possibly the only Gold Bug left that is not either a pile of parts , semi complete , basket case or a fully restored car.  Are you familiar with the chasing classic cars Stutz ? If it was any better than Ron's car I have a feeling it wasn't by much.

Not all survivors need to be 40,000 original mile , original paint, near mint, garage kept since day 1 cars.

I know there is many different  ways to live this hobby.  But nothing in Ron's pictures jumps out at me as too far gone to preserve.

If a person want's a restored Gold Bug there is probably a restored example for sale every 10 years or so. Ron's car might be the only one left that could conceivably be a preservation car.  Once it is restored it is { no disrespect Ron, I am in awe of your restoration of the 1918 Sedanette.  A car that absolutely needed restoration if it was to survive at all } " just " another restored Gold Bug. At select events it  will could  be in a line up with 4 , 5 or even 6 other restored Gold Bug's.

 

Just my opinion; Canadian, so  that is not even 2 cent's worth these days.

 

Greg

 

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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Ed - the Kissel Klub has a Kissel registry of every known Kissel car. This listing is not public but is accessible to all Kissel owners and their associates. It’s pretty complete but every so often another Kissel that’s unknown will show up. The two Kissels in this post string, for example, were previously not known to the registry.

Ron

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