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Roy M. Meisenhelder’s Sheet Metal, Auto and Body Works (later Meisenhelder’s Body & Fender Shop), 1918-1956; York, Pennsylvania
Associated Firms
Pullman (York Motor Car Co.)

York, Pennsylvania’s Roy M. Meisenhelder is known today as the constructor of a magnificent Paige-chassised roadster which is currently owned by Indiana collector Ted Stahl. It is one of a reported four customs that Meisenhelder constructed using domestic chassis during the early Twenties. The car is adorned with a number of distinctive cast aluminum accessories that were created by Meisenhelder himself which include the radiator shell, windshield frame, running boards (equipped with outrigger seats), and many smaller items.

Roy Mitzel Meisenhelder was born on June 29, 1886 in Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to William Henry and Elizabeth (Kuhl) Meisenhelder.  His early education and work history are currently unknown but the 1904-1907 York, Penn., directories lists him as living with his widowed mother at 325 S. Duke St., York.

The 1917-1919 York directories list his occupation as metalworker and his World War I draft registration, dated June 5, 1917, states he was currently employed as a sheet metal worker at the Pullman Motor Car Co. of York, Pa.

The Pullman automobile was produced in the former York Carriage Co. factory at 238-242 N. George St. by Albert P. Broomell's York Motor Car Co., who originally intended to produce a six-wheeled automobile which was shown to the automotive press during 1903-1904. Broomell appropriated the moniker of the Pullman Palace Car Co. as the trade name of his proposed automobile in order to cash in on the railcar builders noted reputation for both quality and luxury. The stillborn six-wheeled layout was superseded by a more conventional 4-wheeled design and production of the Pullman commenced in 1905. The firm was one of 17 automobile manufacturers located in and around York, and proved to be one of its most successful, producing an estimated 12,000+ cars from 1905 to 1917 when the firm fell into the hands of a receiver.

Its bankruptcy prompted Meisenhelder to establish his own radiator repair and sheet metal fabrication shop at 315-317 S Court Av. in early 1918. He married Jennie R. Fulton (b. 1884) on November 24, 1919 with the couple moving in with his mother, Elizabeth at her 325 S. Duke St., York residence.

The 1921 York directory lists him under “Automobile Bodies” and “Automobile Radiators – Mfrs and Repairers’ as follows:

“Roy M. Meisenhelder (Jennie), Sheet Metal Automobile and Body Works, Maker of Gas Tanks, Fenders, Hoods and Special Bodies, 315-317 S Court Av, York Tel, h 325 S Duke (see adv in Automobile Dept)”

A display ad (Seen to the right) was included in the directory which shows a custom-bodied Stern Six roadster constructed by the firm. Although radiator repair and collision work were his bread and butter, Meisenhelder constructed a small number of customs during the early 1920s on used chassis upon which he affixed his own faux grill and nameplate. Information is scarce, although Kimes and Clark indicate that a couple of the customs were constructed during 1924 using late model Paige chassis – one of which survives in the collection of Chesterfield, Michigan collector Ted Stahl.

The 1925 York directory lists Meisenhelder under ‘Automobile Repairers’ and ‘Tin and Sheet Iron Workers’ as follows:

“Roy M. Meisenhelder (Jennie), Radiator, Fender and Body Repairing, Open Every Night, 315-317 S Court Av, York Phone 32250, h 325 S Duke”

His custom work ends at this time although he continued to advertise in the York Business directory under Automobile Garages and Repairing into the Second World War.

Roy M. Meisenhelder’s draft registration, dated April 27, 1942 states he was born in Columbia, Pa and was currently employed by the Meisenhelder Body & Fender Shop, 315 S. Court Ave, York, Pa.

His home address remained that of his parents, 325 S. Duke St., York, Pa. although his ‘person to contact’ was not his wife Jennie, but a man named John W. Leeper, 516 S Queen St. York, Pa., so it’s assumed she either had passed away, or had divorced by that time.

Meisenhelder passed away on December 24, 1954 at the age of 68.

Thankfully one of his customs survived him, a massive 2-seat roadster registered as a Meisenhelder Model 6-55 roadster. Measuring 17’ 8” long, the car was constructed using a circa 1919 141” wheelbase Paige Model 6-40 chassis equipped with a 82 h.p. 6-cylinder Continental. It’s currently owned by Chesterfield, Michigan collector Ted Stahls.

Your author saw the car at Hershey in 2002 where its then-owner advertised it as a 1924 Meisenhelder.  The striking car was constructed to a high standard and was memorable for its unusual color and plentiful amount of cast aluminum accessories which included jump seats affixed to both running boards.

© 2012 Mark Theobald for







Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark - Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942

William H. Shank - History of the York Pullman Automobile, 1903-1917, pub 1970

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