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Updated – Los Angeles Mystery Car: Unique Twenties Sports Coupe

Updated-While viewing images taken in 1931 at the Continental Auto Works located at 1240 East 9th Street in Los Angeles, California, today’s mystery car was spotted in the background. After enlarging one of the photos taken at the scene the lead image gives a good look at the details of its coachwork.

Based on its outward appearance the vehicle appears to be a one-off creation mounted on a stretched production car chassis that hopefully can be identified. The overall look of the vehicle and the construction of the fenders and the lack of running boards probably date this machine to the early 1920s to ’26 period.

  •                   1924 Kissel “Enclosed Speedster” ad published in “The Saturday Evening Post”

It is possible that the original coupe body and the radiator and shell were retained and a new hood and fenders were constructed for the machine. At the time there were also several custom coachbuilders in the Los Angeles area that could have handled the conversion done in the manor of stylist Harley J. Earl.

Share with us what you find of interest in the enlargeable photographs (below) courtesy of the USC Libraries or anything you can add to this post.

Updated-Reader Robbie Marenzi was the first reader who identified today’s “Mystery Car” as a Kissel “Enclosed Speedster” that later had its wheelbase lengthened.  The advertisement above was sent in by reader Gregory Wells.

26 responses to “Updated – Los Angeles Mystery Car: Unique Twenties Sports Coupe

  1. This looks very much like someone modified a Kissel Gold Bug Speedster, circa 1925 or so, by installing an enclosed driver’s compartment. Just a guess.

  2. Second picture, facing the camera is a 1929 Dodge Coupe and in the third picture the tow truck is a converted, late teens or early 20’s Cadillac, either a type 57 or a type 59 and the large sedan at the left, I think could be a 1924/26 Locomobile Junior Eight.

  3. If you ever find yourself in Hartford, WI, the Wisconsin Automotive Museum has two or three Kissel Enclosed Speedsters on display, along with a Gold Bug.

    • I was there exactly a year ago on my way to races at Road America. I spent a wonderful afternoon drinking in all of the displays.

  4. I think you’re right about it being a Kissel. You can see some fine examples at the Wisconsin Auto Museum’s website, including a yellow one that shares a lot of features with the pictured car: fender and hood shape and louvers, spoked wheels with center caps and the running board steps. The museum is in Hartford WI, home of the Kissel and is very well worth your time if you ever get the chance to visit. Hartford isn’t far from Milwaukee or from Road America in Elkhart Lake.

  5. I thought Kissel like the others but think an early 20s Stutz is a distinct possibility, too. The Stutz radiator seems to match better. It is a very cool car, regardless. It would have been nice if this one survived.

  6. I am pretty sure that is a Kissel tail lamp. I forget which years it was used, but a distinctive triangle shape. It may or may not be a standard Kissel body, they had some very wonderfully unusual cars in the mid ’20s. I looked at one for sale about thirty years ago that I often wonder what became of it. It was similar to this car except that it was a convertible coupe (cabriolet). The fenders and step plates were like this one also.
    At the time, I thought it wasn’t so practical with three small children in the home, so we got a series 80 Pierce Arrow sedan instead.

  7. I reckon the Cadillac tow truck is a Type 61. The 57 has coarse hood louvres. The 59 has the horn mounted on the side. The 61 has a slightly higher hood.

    • It’s a Kissel for sure as others have identified, however I think it’s stock rather than altered in anyway or manner… however it’s not particularly well cared for as I would’ve thought. Certainly not garaged. Oh wll.

      • No doubt in my mine that it is lengthened, compare the general proportions of both lengthwise, and look at the longer spare tire to front fender distance in the photo and compare it to the advertisement.

        • David, look at the advert sent in by your reader Mr Wells… it shows the 2 models open and closed both done by the same illustrator and it is an illusion that indeed they are not on the same wheelbase… they both detail the same features except the respective body one being open the other featuring a taller cabin the only thing being relatively the same being the passengers… the original for the advertisement was a piece of artwork sized times 3 – hand done – including the lettering possibly done on a piece of illustration board flapped for presentation w/ a tissue overlay for correx, if needed. a far different process from the digital work done today… then reduced to actual size ,for reproduction. An actual fotograph which you have is the final statement… or engineered drawings. Sorry , David I was in the “bizness” for many years and bought and sold much artwork, of course the pieces were much improved in the 50 years later when I was active… the ’60s- ’70s.

        • It looks like Kissel produced both 6 cylinder (6/45 & 6/55) as well as 8 cylinder (8/75) versions of the Speedster. I’d suggest that the car in the photo is an 8, accounting for the longer hood. Take a look at the Simeone’s 8/75.

  8. The Model “A” Ford Line offered 2 body styles with Laundau Irons : The “Sport Coupe with: Faux (Fake) Laudau irons as a “styling touch” that went along with a Faux ( fake ) Fabric (non- convertible ) fabric top covering over metal. this styling “Cue” was to be attempted again Years later but without Landau Irons the other “A ” Ford Model was: The “Cabriolet:, A top- of- the- line convertible coupe with: Roll-up windows with plated metal surrounds , and an articulated rear window frame that folded with the Top that also included a plated radiused glass rear window in the fabric top. The main styling (and also functioning!) feature were: the Plated Laundau Irons that also articulated (!) just as their ancestoral Horse-drawn Laundau Coaches did ! These “A” Cabriolets were usually loaded with accessories and also offered with 2 front fender “wheel well” spares, with strap mirrors , a Rumble Seat and another (3rd)rear spare tire or a fold down luggage rack for the accessory travelling trunk . A strange styling cue That remains on the now diminutive sized Cadillac Funeral Hearses is: The use of “applied to the surface” Faux Landau Irons ” (Ironed on Irons!!!) and LED coach lamps. An: “Empty suit” compared to a 1941 Packard/Henny Hearse! (No comparison!) All manufacturers at the time of the Depression were desperate enough to try anything to “Move product”! Ford, or the car in your picture were not above this tactic! Now, this Hussy – Jezebel “A” Ford brings a handsome price! (internet spiked!!!) Edwin W. Early Ford fan. (We own and love our ’30 AA Ford 1- 1/2 t. 157″ Stakebed TRUCK — the way-other end of the Ford spectrum of products — affordable— to get things done — that helped the whole world bail out from the Horrible Depression Era!!!

  9. David, I find your comment “… never having researched these cars because they are all show and no go…” to be rather interesting, as I’ve never heard anyone express a similar opinion in regards to Kissel.

    I think I understand what you’re implying, that the Gold Bugs and similar Kissel models were styled to look fast while carrying the run-of-the-mill Kissel underpinnings of the time.

    Having spent a glorious couple of days as a passenger in Jeff Chattin’s 1909 KisselKar semi-racer during a recent Gidden Revival Tour, my view of the marque was not that it normally exhibited sub-par performance, but I do realize I’m comparing apples to oranges there.

  10. Well, this item (and a thread about ’30s Nashes on the AACA forum) has resulted in adding the Wisconsin Automotive Museum to my itinerary when returning to Atlanta after the New London to New Brighton Run next week.

    Just had to convince my ‘hitchhiker,’ Donald R. Peterson (West’s father), that it was worth a stop. “How many Packards do they have?” he wanted to know. LOL…

  11. All –
    The car is a likely a 1925 Kissel Enclosed Speedster, probably Model 8-75. If you google that car you’ll see pictures of the Kissel Enclosed Speedster, Model 6-75, but they also produced the Model 8-75 which was a bit longer as this car as pictured is. The hood, body, radiator, and trim are standard Kissel stock. The triangular tail light is correct for that year. It is not a Stutz.
    As to the performance of Kissels, I own several between 1918 and 1927, I have driven mine a lot. They are “average” in acceleration but do go hi speed. Kissel made their own engines. Those engines are powerful and many ended up being farm trucks or sawmill powerhouses. A Kissel Model 6-38, 6-45, or 6-55 will go 70 MPH if you are foolhardy enough to take it up to speed. Kissel Model 8-126 cars (same Lycoming engine as Cord L-29) were guaranteed to do 100 MPH ! There are records extant of Kissels being raced against Duesenbergs and Frontenacs, and Kissels didn’t break down as much as others.

    Ron Hausmann P.E.

    • Ron, After viewing this side photo of a 1925 Kissel Model 75 Goldbug I can now see that it appears to be the same length as the the “Mystery Car.” https colon //www dot

      As to power, I am an early high performance and racing enthusiast and average acceleration and top speed to me has always meant “no go” to me.

      The Model 8-126 is of course a much more modern car despite of the passage of only four or five years and most of its contemporaries could also hit the century mark.

  12. Re: The backend shot of the big auto in photo 4 could very well be a ’26 thru ’29 Buick model – Split rims, wood wheels, etc. I once owned a 1926 Buick, I believe a master 75 Landau – It had oval rear quarter windows and a decorative metal scroll on the on each side of the padded top. It was a six cylinder. Over the years, I have never see another like it except in an old magazine ad.

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