Lot 2049

Open Roads, Fall

1912 Kissel Model 30 Semi-Racer


$48,400 USD | Sold

United States | St. Louis, Missouri



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  • A seldom-seen example of one of Kissel’s sportiest pre-war offerings
  • Period-correct features include full folding windscreen, convertible top, and nickel-plated headlamps and carriage lamps
  • A nicely patinated, well-maintained older restoration
  • Ideal for vintage touring
Addendum: Please note that this car’s title states that it was a prior salvage motor vehicle.

The Kissel Motor Car Company was founded in 1906 by two ambitious young brothers, George and Will Kissel. After emigrating from Germany to Wisconsin, the Kissel family steadily expanded their farming operations to include groceries, hardware, lumber, and homebuilding. The family amassed considerable wealth, allowing Will and George to indulge in their ambitious plans to start an automobile company. Their 1905 prototype demonstrated their genuine commitment to the project.

That first prototype featured state-of-the-art technology, including an inline four-cylinder engine and a shaft-driven rear axle, when most cars made do with primitive single cylinders and chain drive. By 1907, the production of the Kissel Kar (as its products were known prior to World War I) was in full swing. The early models used Beaver engines, and the bodies were supplied by the Zimmerman Brothers, sleigh builders from up the road in Waupun, Wisconsin.

Before long, the Kissel Kar was developed and manufactured entirely in-house, and orders from distributors came pouring in. Kissel quickly earned a reputation for selling cars that were high on quality and performance and were the preferred transport of wealthy playboy sportsmen well into the Roaring Twenties.

The evocatively named Semi-Racer was one of Kissel’s first proper sports cars. It arrived on the scene in 1912. Dressed with appropriately skimpy bodywork to suit the name, the style was offered across the Kissel lineup—from the sprightly and nimble 30 horsepower Model 30 to the mighty, ground-pounding six-cylinder 60 horsepower Model 60. Defined by its two-seat body and speedster-style fuel tank, the Semi-Racer had just enough optional equipment to make it usable on the road, yet one could simply unbolt the mudguards and go racing. Offered for only from 1911 to 1913, the Semi-Racer sold in small numbers and is one of the most desirable of the early Kissel range.

This 1912 Kissel “Semi-Racer” is built on the four-cylinder 30 horsepower Model 30 chassis. Numbers and markings discovered in the body’s inner structure point to this being a genuine Semi-Racer, though the early history is as-yet uncovered. Presented in a striking livery of bright red with black mudguards and grey frame, it is the subject of a well-detailed older restoration and is well suited to touring with groups such as the Horseless Carriage Club. The racy body features with a host of period-correct accessories, including the full folding windscreen, convertible top, and nickel-plated headlamps and carriage lamps. The rear-mounted spare, speedster-style fuel tank and toolbox punctuate the Kissel’s sporting and purposeful character, evoking images of it blasting across the countryside, kicking up a rooster tail of dust. Combining light, minimalist coachwork with a robust 30 horsepower engine, this marvelous and rare Kissel will undoubtedly provide countless joyful and exciting experiences for its next lucky caretaker.