Wisconsin Chapter

Visit the Wisconsin Chapter Website Here

The Wisconsin Society of Automotive Historians (WSAH), prostate in addition to being a chapter of the Society of Automotive Historians, Inc. (SAH) is a non-profit organization affiliated with the Wisconsin Historical Society. The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) is one of the most active historical societies in the nation and was established in 1846, two years before Wisconsin became a state.

While the majority of our members are Wisconsin residents, that is certainly not a requirement; we currently have members from four other states and welcome inquiries and membership from anyone, anywhere. The purpose of WSAH is to preserve, advance, and disseminate knowledge of the history of the automobile in Wisconsin, in the United States, and worldwide.

WSAH meetings are held three times a year, with established sites for the official Annual Meeting at the lola Old Car Show in July, at the Hill and Valley car show and tour in Cross Plains in September, and in April at The Wisconsin Automotive Museum in Hartford, home of the Kissel.  Other activities are varied and scheduled as they come about.

One of our major activities, and our primary fund-raiser, is our involvement with the Iola Old Car Show  where we are paid for our efforts along with more than 135 other non-profit organizations whose members volunteer. Since 1991 we have planned and staffed the Theme Exhibit section of the show, which involves displaying 200-300 vehicles (including up to 50 for a special exhibit under a tent) and selecting vehicles for the official poster and a variety of other promotional and collectible items including beer cans, pins and buttons, commemorative coins, and model car banks. We sell these items for the Car Show in the special exhibit tent where we display our SAH/WSAH banner and promote membership along with answering questions about the show and automotive history.

For several years we have given monetary support to the Wisconsin Automotive Museum, have donated to various Wisconsin historical projects, and have sponsored benches for the lola Old Car Show. We published the book “Wisconsin cars and Trucks: A Centenary” and produced the video “A Walk through Automotive History with Chet Krause” (Chet is the founder of Krause Publications – now F+W Media – and the Iola Old Car Show). We recently began a membership information exchange and are planning professionally produced videos of some prominent Wisconsin automotive-related personalities, collectors, collections, and businesses.

Our involvement in the Iola Old Car Show, organizing and staffing the Theme Exhibit (for our 23rdyear), continues to go well and is a major source of funds for us. At our autumn meeting we decided on a theme for 2015, as we always have to plan two years out. It’s difficult to come up with fresh, workable
ideas. For 2014 our theme is “Four for all in ’14” which will include all four-door vehicles – something quite different, but inspired by observing the increasing number of survivor-type sedans, the continuing interest in wagons, and the ever-present pre-war sedans, phaetons and convertible sedans.

Our project to do a video recording and interview of significant people, places, and vehicles related to Wisconsin automotive history is under way and the raw footage is being edited. Our first subject is 83 year-old Gene Grengs of Eau Claire, WI, who owned movie theatres and began restoring cars with his grandfather and collecting them when still quite young. Gene is very knowledgeable and hands-on. He has several Packards, from 1910 to a ’56 Caribbean convertible and even has the speed record-setting Packard Panther Daytona. He has two Stanley steamers, including what might be the very last one made (1924), a Model T made on the last day of production (1927), Cord, Auburn, Pierce-Arrow, ’57 Corvette fuelie, etc. -40-plus in all, down from about 100 at one time.  Watch the video here

We started a member interest/information project last year and in addition to that will now assemble new-member packets with information on SAH as well as on our chapter.

We are also looking into the possibility of electronic publishing on demand for our book, Wisconsin Cars and Trucks: A Centenary.

A few words about our WSAH logo, created in 1979: The “Spark” steam vehicle, developed by Dr. J.W. Carhart of Racine in 1871, is thought to be the first automobile in Wisconsin and, some say, in the United States. The silhouette was drawn from an early photograph and is set within an outline of Wisconsin.

For inquiries, please contact:

Ken Nimocks, WSAH
3765 Spring Green Road
Green Bay, Wl 54313-7565
(920) 865-4004 home, (920) 655-2740 mobile


 WSAH September Meeting

The annual WSAH autumn meeting was held September 17, 2016 at Cross Plains, WI in conjunction with the 33rd annual Hill and Valley Antique Auto and Americana Show and Tour.  The meeting was well attended and the weather was perfect for a morning tour through the “Driftless Area” (unglaciated) hills of southwest Wisconsin.

Jim Morris had visited the Schloemer car exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum, to which we donated $500, and reported that our money was well spent to enclose and update the exhibit.  We discussed reprinting a few articles from our “Spark” publication of many years ago.  Jessica Zdonawicz will consider scanning the complete Spark collection to PDFs and linking them on the WSAH website.  We will revise our Chet Krause collection and interview video from several years ago, incorporating video from Chet’s vehicle auction provided by member Don Gullikson.

Ken Nimocks, WSAH President

(extracted from 9/18/16 report)


2016 Iola Car Show and WSAH Summer Meeting

 The WSAH continued an annual tradition, dating from 1991, of planning and staffing the Special Exhibit section of the Iola Old Car Show in Wisconsin, now known as the Iola Car Show.  This event is the primary fund raiser for the WSAH, as the chapter is paid for its efforts, as are over 100 other non-profit organizations whose members volunteer to put on the Iola Car Show.  WSAH members worked the show from Wednesday, July 6th, a set up day, through “Super Saturday” on July 9th.

The Special Exhibit section of the Iola Car Show displays over 200 vehicles selected to represent a particular theme, with approximately 50 of those vehicles in the Special Exhibit Tent.  This year there were two themes: Trucks and 50 Years of Dodge Chargers.

The involvement of the WSAH with the Special Exhibit is essentially a year-round commitment.  The chapter works with the Iola Car Show staff to select the theme(s) for the coming year.  The chapter then evaluates and selects the vehicles to be included in the Special Exhibit by utilizing pre-registrations for the upcoming show and reviewing owner supplied vehicle photographs.  Selection criteria includes representing as many decades as possible to cover the theme, a variety of body styles, and unusual, rare and desirable models.  Variety is the key.  A second selection is made from the initial group for the vehicles to be displayed in the Special Exhibit Tent; these vehicles are basically unmodified, though they may have period accessories.  Clubs associated with the vehicles in the tent are invited to participate so that show attendees can benefit from their expertise.

During the three day show the chapter members manage the parking and display of the vehicles for the Special Exhibit, staff the WSAH table in the Special Exhibit Tent from which chapter members sell Iola Car Show memorabilia in support of the show, answer questions and engage show attendees about the WSAH.  The chapter mascot at the tent is The Coffin, a large gray wooden horizontal locker in which the chapter stores its gear for the show.  The eye catching new WSAH banner, on prominent display above The Coffin, was designed this year by member Jessica Zdanowicz.

The pride with which the WSAH manages the Special Exhibit of the Iola Car Show is a testament to the chapter’s dedication in sharing automotive history with the general public and fellow enthusiasts.

The annual WSAH summer meeting was held on Friday, July 8th, in the Iola Car Show Activity Center.  Member George Tesar reported on the SAH Automotive History Conference held in Cleveland in April.  Members approved naming the WSAH newsletter the Carhart Chronicle, as suggested by Editor David Tesch.  The new WSAH banner and brochures, designed by member Jessica Zdonawicz, were highlighted.

Ken Nimocks, WSAH President

Bob Barr, SAH Chapters Chair