WSAH is for history buffs and information exchange

Our projects, in keeping with our mission, have included producing a video recording and interview of significant people, places, and vehicles related to Wisconsin automotive history. Chet Krause, founder of Krause Publications and the Iola Car Show was the subject of our video "A Walk Through History with Chet Krause." Krause Publications became the world's largest publisher of hobby books and magazines, including Old Cars Weekly and the Iola Old Car Show (now Iola Car Show) and Swap Meet, which became the largest event of its type in the Midwest.

Our video interview of Gene Grengs from Eau Claire included Gene's large collection of significant vehicles along with his narrative of his background. He began restoring and collecting vehicles at a very young age with his grandfather and, with his father, owned local movie theaters and built the first drive-in theater in Wisconsin. An active 83 year old at the time of the interview, Gene also took part in close-formation flying. His vehicles ranged from two Stanley Steamers, one of which might be the last ever produced (1924), a 1927 Model T Ford built on the last day of T production, a 1957 fuel injection Corvette, several Packards ranging from 1910 to a 1956 Caribbean convertible and the speed record-holding Packard Panther Daytona. As a very hands-on collector, Gene demonstrated starting and driving his early Stanley Steamer.

book coverWe published the book, “Wisconsin Cars and Trucks: A Centenary” in 1998 with a wide variety of articles, photos, drawings, and stories on the vehicles, the manufacturing and the people behind it all. Names like Thomas Jeffery, Charles Nash, Louis Kissel, and Brooks Stevens, to name a few. There are mentions of some questionable "firsts": the 1892 Milwaukee-built Schloemer, which has been claimed to be the first gasoline powered car in America; the Spark, a steamer claimed to be the first self-propelled road vehicle and built in Racine by Dr. J. W. Carhart (1871/73); and what was arguably the World's First Automobile Race, from Green Bay to Madison in 1878. There is an appendix listing known Wisconsin built vehicles.

Based on demand, the book and videos could possibly be available on a limited basis again. A preview of the Gene Grengs video can be found on YouTube and the Wisconsin Cars and Trucks book can sometimes be found by online sellers.

Wisconsin License plateThe evolution of Wisconsin License Plates. Please visit our Wisconsin License Plate Photos and Trivia page. Images courtesy of Wisconsin Department of Transportation.