Every time I go to the “Kissel Museum” in Hartford, Wis., the place gets better and seems to have something new added to its name. It’s called the Wisconsin Automobile Museum (www.wisconsinautomuseum.com). It was also known as Hartford Heritage. Some call it the Kissel Museum and others think of it as the Nash Automobile Club of America Museum. It is also home to the Hudson Essex Terraplane Historical Society and the Wisconsin Short Track Hall of Fame.
I remember back when it first opened. It was a huge former factory building then and had a relatively small section suitable for use as a car museum. Beyond the museum area were loading docks (some with standing water in them) and cavernous open spaces. Dale Anderson was the original director of the museum and he had a lot of dreams right from the beginning. In the long run, Dale turned the building at 147 N. Rural St. in Hartford into a place of dreams
Several years ago, I went back to Hartford and the museum was really looking great. Dale showed me the Ruth A. Knoll Theater and Suckow Family Art Gallery. Then, when I went to Hartford a few weeks ago, I found that Dale had retired. However, I also saw the Schauer Arts & Activities Center nearby the museum and it was pretty clear that a lot of his dreams have turned into reality.
Maybe the idea of Dale realizing his dreams at the Wisconsin Automobile Museum is what made me have a dream while I was there. I was visiting to attend a meeting of the Wisconsin Society of Automotive Historians (firstname.lastname@example.org). There wasn’t time to go through the entire museum again, so I looked at the Kissels and Nashes. In the Nash section, there was a completely restored 1941 Nash Ambassador Six drive train and chassis.
Seeing that chassis got a couple of dreams going. Sitting in the woods, less than a mile from my house, is a pretty nice 1941 Nash Ambassador “club coupe” body A few years ago, one of my neighbors took that body off the original chassis and plopped it down on the platform of a minivan that he purchased for $50. It was not a perfect fit. Sheet metal from the minivan’s cutaway body showed through in the wheel wells. The body was raked to the front. He drove the car a little bit in that condition, then parked it and disappeared.
At the time the car was built, the Nash body was in absolutely beautiful shape. It was finished in two tones of green and the chrome was still shiny. Sitting in the woods doesn’t seem to have hurt the car. I only saw it up close once, but I see it almost every day. Now that I have seen the chassis at the Hartford museum, I’m intrigued by the dream of mating the body to that chassis.
I talked to a docent at the museum about this. He didn’t think the museum would be able to sell the chassis, but he thought that members of the Nash Car Club of America (www.nashcarclub.org) might want to do something like that as a club project. If that’s a possibility, interested parties can get in touch with me through Old Cars Weekly. I’d love to see the car in the woods get saved.