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Cheesehead Industries


Cheesehead Industries

This thread is a WIP where I’ll showcase designs from Cheesehead Industries(CI) subsidiary companies: Wisconsin Truck, Wisconsin Motors, and Lagerfelter Performance Engineering(LPE). Other companies within CI have also contributed engineering, manufacturing, and other resources to CI automotive products, most notably Hermes Hydrosports, Harvey-Donaldson Motorcycles, and Kohlberg Co.

Product line in no particular order. All companies and personalities are purely fictitious and any resemblance to reality is all in your head, man.


Wisconsin Motors Virgil
The 1962 Virgil Turbine Concept Car

Sadly, this concept never reached production… Mediocre efficiency, poor reliability, overheating problems and high development costs forced us to pull the plug on this one. However, 1965 saw production of the Virgil with more conventional powertrain options and a convertible variant, called the “Skyview”.

Designed to compete with the likes of the Lincoln Continental and Imperial of the era, the Virgil offered three available engines: a 7.5L V12 rated at 300hp (337.5 actual) 400 lb-ft (444 actual), a 5.0L V8 rated at 175hp (200 actual) 275 lb-ft (280 actual), and a 3.9L inline 6 rated at 150hp (170 actual) 200 lb-ft (216 actual). All three engines push power to the front wheels via a 3 speed automatic transmission. This technical gamble paid off, with improved driveability and handling on poor surfaces, and would lay the engineering groundwork for future large FWD cars from Wisconsin Motors.
An interesting historical aside, Otto Lagerfelter, CEO of Wisconsin Motors at the time of the Virgil, hated this car and tried several times to have the project cancelled. He called it “an abomination no humble Lutheran would dare to be seen in”, and described the driving experience as “like humping a manatee on a waterbed.” However, the popularity of the concept car gathered momentum until he could no longer stop it; the styling and marketing departments would win the day. Motoring reviews of the day were more generous, praising the car’s effortless performance and smooth ride. 0-62 10.9s, 142 top speed (Virgil V12).


1955-1958 Wisconsin Motors Issigonis A-Series and SuperSedan

One could write a book on just the “Issi”, so consider this a chapter in its history. The Issigonis is the longest continuously produced car model in Wisconsin Motors history, though it is currently(2018) marketed under the LPE banner.

1955 Issigonis 930 SS, shown here in bright yellow/pure white

The Issigonis was developed during a shift of management from Karl to Otto Lagerfelter as acting CEO, and if you think a father and son management team sounds heartwarming, you haven’t worked for the Lagerfelters. When differences seemed irreconcilable, it was suggested that Otto develop the smaller market Super Sedan, while Karl lead development on the more mainsteam models. These “Karl Cars” are now known as the Series A, and feature coil sprung solid axles in a steel monocoque chassis. They’re powered by an 850cc ohv Triple hooked to manual transmissions, but there the similarities end.

1955 Issigonis Estate, shown in gold / butterscotch cream

1955 Issigonis Hacienda, shown in root beer / peacekeeper tan

1955 Issigonis Duckling, shown in peacekeeper green / peacekeeper tan

The “Otto Autos” were oriented at a more premium market, and featured aluminum panels and 4 wheel wishbone suspension, and a larger 4 cylinder engine at their premier. Three displacements were originally offered, the 1275SS, 930SS, and 875SS. Released into the markets, the Super Sedan’s popularity vindicated Karl’s design with surprising popularity. In 1957, the Estate trim was switched to the independently suspended chassis and offered with both the 930 and 850, and the 875SS four cylinder was replaced by the 850SS Triple.

1955 Issigonis 875SS, shown in metallic silver / metallic silver

1955 Issigonis 1275SS, shown in pure white / Tahiti blue

Both vehicles featured a rather novel trim approach, using a crackle finish baked powdercoating instead of chrome to achieve a sturdy, inexpensive finish without the mess of chrome baths. The simplicity of the procedure enabled WMC to offer low production runs of “in-fashion” colors for nearly limitless color combos. Badges were eschewed for mystery, but the Issi was instantly recognizable as a WMC from its simple, functional design language.

Lido Iccikaka (marketing): How will people know what they are looking at?
Karl: If they’re interested, they’ll ask. They’re good cars. We don’t need to shout about it.
Lido: But… How would I know what’s under the hood?
Otto (scowling): Open it. Or step on the pedal on the right.
Lido: But… How will my neighbors know to be impressed?
Otto (slightly indignant): What a stupid question. It’s a WMC.
Lido: I don’t think you catch my drift. Badges, chrome, lettering, wire wheels, toothy grilles, propellers, jet engines- that stuff all market tests really well with younger buyers at this price range and…
Karl (interrupting): We will take your objections into consideration, thank you for your concern.
Karl shakes his head, a little sadly, and walks off.
Lido (to Otto, who remains): Ok, ok, you’re the boss. But does it have to be so… Nice? It’s economy sized. This is really stretching the budget segment, pushing outside it, maybe. How do I advertise this car?
Otto (his face reddening): WMC doesn’t build shitboxes, you halfwit hog humper! Screw your marketing segments and their whore mother, too! (spits). Do I have to do everyone’s job? You’re marketing, use your small mind and think small.
Otto scowls, glares at the marketing rep, spits on the floor again and bounds off after Karl.

-an etymological aside: this is the first recorded and verified use of the word “shitbox” to describe a car of poor quality and design, predating Csaba Csere’s description of the Chevette in C&D magazine by many years. Otto has never claimed to have coined the term “shitbox”, and is himself typically more violently creative in his cursing.

-an historical aside: WMC’s launch campaign, using the phrase “Think Small” was a huge success, and earned Lido a raise.

1957 Issigonis 850SS-H, shown in obsidian / metallic silver

A note on the “850H”: As part of their development process, most engines at WMC get an “H” variant, usually signified by an “H” stamped into the head and block. H motors are high performance variants and are typically not intended for mass consumption, but their development helps us identify weak spots and gives our customers a leg up in motorsports competition. Officially, they’re only available through our parts department (and sometimes only when permission is granted by the performance division). However, the unexpected success of the Super Sedan resulted in production shortages of the inline 4. Replacing the 875SS with the 850 relieved this somewhat, but soon resulted in production shortages of the triple. While it was against the “rules”, and later elicited a formal apology and rebate offer, a number (500, specifically) of Issi 850SS were fitted with the “H”. Not everyone was happy about this, as the “H” is a rowdy, cammy, noisy, fussy, thirsty beast. Further, as the powertrains for the Issi were assembled in units, the “H” is attached to a shorter axle ratio with an automatic locker. On the other hand, some were thrilled- not only about their rebate, but also their “free horsepower!” An 850SS with an “H” is nipping right at the heels of its 930cc four cylinder brother in performance. Rumors that LPE intentionally mislabelled these powertains in order to homologate the 850H (and especially the diff, elsewhere unavailable) for racing certainly seem possible, but representatives at LPE and WMC refused to comment until completion of the optional rebate program. Time has since obscured the issue, and the rumors remain just that.


Wisconsin Truck V190 AeroVan

Wisconsin Truck’s first postwar civilian product was the V100 AeroVan. The design mated a military light transport chassis to a marine sourced ohv power plant. Three variants were produced, the Standard, Standard 4x4, and Deluxe. All three were available with 1300cc and 1900cc Hurricane 4 cylinders, and the Standard could also be had with the 600cc Typhoon triple. The Deluxe featured seating for 8 with padded and upholstered seats. The Standard and Standard 4x4 used wicker or canvas seats on wooden frames, with seating for two. Replacing these with the front seats from a deluxe became a popular dealer retrofit option.

Special attention was given to airflow in the V190. A boxed section behind the grilles contains airflow and directs it through the radiator. Vents at the cowl allow hot engine air to escape at low speeds, while providing positive airflow at higher speeds. Scoops at the cowl feed fresh air to the interior behind the dash, and a scoop at the roof provides air to a box-shaped channel between the front passengers, which then carries fresh air to the rear. More vents at the rear allow interior air to escape. Vents, vents, vents!

The headlights were not so much a conscious styling choice as a simple adaptation. The upper two lights in the military version are blackout lights, it was deemed more economical to install extra headlights than to stamp a new hood. Storage lockers in the hood also remain, contact us for a field cookbook on soups & stews. Roof reinforcement ribs turn the roof into useful real estate. Top hinged panels at the rear quarter allow extra cargo access, and make an excellent hunting blind in the 4x4. The rear window panel hinges upward, while the door opens normally for ease of loading.

Advanced safety in this era meant running lights, turn signals, reverse lights, 12V electrical system, thick steel bumpers, and 2 spare tires (mounted vertically behind the rear wheel wells in the cargo area). The Standard was a huge success for WT, but the Deluxe was quickly outclassed by more modern designs and station wagons. The 4x4 was built in small numbers, but filled a market niche that was core to WT’s brand identity.


Big Oly, Parnelli Jones’ Baja Race Truck, 1970-1974
here’s a link to a YouTube Video of Jones talking about it:

2012 Wisconsin Truck Ironman, Big Oly Edition

5.0 ohv V8, 322hp, 317lb-ft
aluminum panels, AHS Light Truck Monocoque, coil sprung axles with manual lockers
awd, 6 spd auto, sport interior & standard CD 3159lb
0-62 5.6s, 14.0 1/4mi, 120 top $18414@0% (rough tune atm, these may change)


2020 LPE Gasser Show Car

Built to highlight LPE’s drag racing heritage.


The 1946-1949 Wisconsin Motors Model K was a continuation of prewar production, sort of. Stamps for the unibody monocoque were damaged by not being properly prepared before storage, and rather than retool for a model whose replacement was already in the works, a stopgap was employed. The existing body, fully independent suspension, and transmission were swapped to a modified V100 truck ladder frame, and the engines were sourced from Hermes Hydrosports. The Model K lost quite a bit of headroom, some manners, and gained some weight. The new engine series, however, was much improved over the old flathead engines, and the body gained a bit flash with chrome accents. The production run was plagued by steel shortages, however, and customers grew frustrated with long wait times. Production runs were sometimes fit with whichever engine happened to be available, and the V12 was very rare. Wisconsin Motors refused to raise prices, feeling it was unethical to sell the same car to different customers for different prices, regardless of market forces at work. As a result, profits fell. Wisconsin Motors concentrated production during these shortages on the V100 and the Mouse, which were cheaper to build and more essential to the company’s bottom line.
Three variants of this model were produced. The Sedan featured a value-added standard interior with seating for 5, and was equipped with the 1300cc Hurricane ohv 4 cylinder. The entry level Model K hit 69 mph and returned 15.8 mpg

Some details: hood release in vent, tow hooks, and a combination door handle/mirror

The Sport was available with a 2400cc Tsunami ohv 6 cylinder and used the same interior trim. A Sport hit 86 mph, 0-62 20.4s, ¼ mi 22.35s and returned 18.2 mpg

The Deluxe was WM’s top of the line in 1946, featuring a Luxury Leather Interior with seating for 4, Premium AM Radio, and the Windigo 4800cc ohv V12 (essentially 2 inline 6 Tsunamis stitched together in a common crankcase). Visually, the Deluxe was differentiated by an extra piece of trim. The V12 tops at 118mph and hits 62 in 12.2s, returning 11.4mpg


nice designs so far. interesting recreation too.


Thanks so much!


any time, you have a interesting style.


1946-1949 Wisconsin Motors/Wisconsin Truck Mouse

The short lived 4x4 roadster, shown here in Riviera blue with premium chrome.

Wisconsin Motors’ Mouse was its entry level vehicle. It acquired its name during its military service. Suggested perhaps by its diminutive size and friendly appearance, “Mouse” is just easier to say than MSTV (multipurpose small transport vehicle). After the war, Wisconsin Motors continued this convention for its civilian line. Based on Wisconsin Truck’s MSTV1, the Mouse’s military origins show in its “tried but true” technology: leaf springs, solid axles, ladder frame, manual locking axles in both RWD and 4WD models, and a wide ratio 4 speed. However, the flathead military spec engine, designed to run on poor quality fuel, didn’t make the cut. The engines were sourced from our marine division, Hermes Hydrosports, and include three choices: 15 HP, 30 HP, and 40 HP (available on Delivery and Hacienda only). Several body styles were available on this chassis: the Hacienda (pickup) and Delivery were sold through Wisconsin Truck and the Coupe, Sedan, and Roadster were sold through Wisconsin Motors. Styling for all vehicles was generally handled by Otto personally in this era, as there was no “styling department” yet. However, in this case 2 chrome packages were styled by Raymond Lagerfelter and offered as options.

Clockwise from top left: Hacienda with premium chrome, Delivery with standard powdercoated trim, Hacienda with basic chrome.

Raymond: So this is the new Mouse, eh? Nice, really nice. I bet I could get to some great fly fishing spots in one of these babies. Lemme see one with a chrome package!
Otto: There’s no such thing. It’s a WMC, remember. We powdercoat, not show off.
Raymond: Humbug, Otto. Not every customer is an ultra-conservative Lutheran, ya know.
Otto: I know, I know. We put windows and seats in a delivery truck for those Goddamn papists…
Raymond: Heck, I wouldn’t buy one without a chrome package. Give me a few hours to mock something up. You’ll see. Come back at Four.
Otto returned, with daughters Wilma and Norma in tow.
Raymond: Hi, girls! I’m just wrapping up here.
Girls: Hi, Uncle Ray!
Norma: Ooh, look at all the shiny! I want a shiny car when I grow up!
Wilma: Daddy, how come your car’s not shiny?
Otto: Because grown-ups don’t concern themselves with baubles, dear. Raymond, I’m meeting Belva at the supper club with the girls, care to join us?
Raymond: Sure, just let me get cleaned up. How do you like the trim package?
Norma: I love it!
Otto: It’s not my cup of tea, but just to humor you I could offer it as a dealer installed option. How much do you reckon it’ll cost?
Raymond: I’ll have to figure. Rough guess, maybe fifty dollars?
Otto let out a slow whistle, and shook his head a bit sadly. What was this country coming to, when a man wants baubles on his car? Fifty dollars! His own brother, even! He secretly hoped they wouldn’t sell. (To the contrary, these trim packages sold so well that they led to increasing pressure from Sales & Marketing to create a dedicated Styling Department.)
Raymond: To supper, then. What are you gonna have to eat, Norma?
Norma: Ice Cream!

Mouse Sedan, premium chrome

Mouse Coupe, premium chrome

Women in Motoring, 1946
In the spring of 1946, four women (Belva and Matilda Lagerfelter, wives of Otto and Ray, plus two other ladies from Belva’s “Ladies Motoring Club”) and a French poodle named Charlie drove a Mouse 4x4 Sedan and 4x4 Hacienda from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Fairbanks, Alaska. This was considered no easy feat in 1946, much of the distance being challenging off-road terrain. They also carried two hunting rifles and an old revolver, just in case. The pickup was fitted with an electric winch and carried spare tires and belts; both vehicles were equipped with 80RON capable engines (punched out to 1900cc to make up for the lost power). Newspaper coverage of their journey created a huge buzz for the new Mouse, demonstrating its reliability, off-road ability, and driving ease.


The 15 HP is a 639cc ohv Inline 3, eco 1cv, 7:5:1cr, 4800 rpm redline (23.3hp, 32.9 lb-ft actual). Simple and sturdy, a 4x4 Delivery does 49.6 mph on a windless day and returns 27.4 mpg.

A 15H (same engine, 40.5hp, 38.3 lb-ft 9.5:1cr, 6100rpm redline) in a 4x4 pickup went 67.1mph on a frozen lake Michigan, and had some early success ice racing. (See Issi history for an explanation of H motors).

The 30 HP model is a 1300cc ohv Inline 4 that shares parts with the larger engine. 1cv, 7.5:1cr, 4000 rpm redline (41hp, 67 lb-ft actual). Considered by many to be the best engine of the lineup, a 4x4 Delivery hits 68mph and returns 17.8mpg.

The 40 HP is a 1887cc ohv inline 4, 1cv, 7.4:1cr, 4,000rpm redline (60hp, 97 lb-ft actual). A 4x4 Delivery hits 78mph, 0-60 22.5s, ¼ 21.6s, 15.4mpg

Mouse, 1950-1954

In 1950, the Mouse received an overhaul. The Roadster was cancelled, Hacienda and Delivery production continued with few changes, and the Sedan and Coupe received a newly designed suspension featuring independent front wishbones and trailing arm rear. New for 1950 was a 2 seat Business Coupe model, marketed to travelling salesmen. The wide ratio 4 speed was replaced by an overdrive 3 speed. Rack and pinion steering replaced the worm gear design for improved steering feel and easier operation due to a lower ratio. Wisconsin Motors’ showrooms carried only coupe and sedan models, the rest of the lineup was marketed through Wisconsin Truck.


1947 Wisconsin Motors WMX, "The Toad"

Raymond Lagerfelter had racing in the blood. From childhood, he was enthralled by all things motorsports: ice racing, drag racing, road racing, circle track racing; cars, planes, motorcycles, boats… As a Wisconsin native and auto industry heir, he had the good fortune to be exposed to all these disciplines. Accomplished himself, he was a fast racer on ice and off-road, but had too much mechanical sympathy to be “1st order” competitive. Still, he had some small local success before enlisting as a mechanic in the Air Force. In his spare time on Air Force bases, he had organized Mouse races “to keep morale high.” The courses were a cross between mudplugging, rally and gymkhana; and sometimes got him into trouble. It turns out sleeping officers do not enjoy being awakened by 10 MSTVs at full throttle blasting past their barracks in a 3am night race.

At the end of the War, he returned home with visions of race cars dancing in his head. In Europe, he had seen many of the great racing tracks of his boyhood dreams, and visited with many car constructors that he admired. The advancements in aviation and their possible applications to auto racing had not escaped him, either. When he returned home, he was in a unique position to live a long held dream: He would build performance cars, and go racing with them. His brother seemed to have a handle on the day-to-day of the family business.

The first of these cars was known about the shop as the “Toad”, and was sold primarily to race teams -mostly as rolling chassis, though Ray would happily fit any of WM’s engines. Chassis VINs were stamped WMX (for experimental), which is how the cars were presented to clients. The intention was to provide the amateur racer with a chassis that could go head to head with the factory teams. Six runs of ten chassis were built, plus the prototype, for a total of 61 cars. The car was developed around the Tsunami ohv inline 6. In an attempt to push the aerodynamic envelope, one car was fitted with an overbored 6.0L Windigo V12 and taken to Rogers Dry Lake (Muroc) where it ran 136 mph (a bit disappointing, but still not shabby for 1947). Briggs Cunningberg fielded several of these cars, winning a couple of road races with an exotic Italian 1.5L DOHC V12. Amateur racers often fit the car with modified Flathead V8s. Ray’s favorite installation was that of a Miller-Duck monoblock DOHC 2.5L inline 4, a torquey little monster that would go on to become a circle track legend. So impressed was Ray by this design, that he developed a new head for the Tsunami 6. Using hemispherical combustion chambers and two valves per cylinder, actuated by two cams using a gear driven, desmodromic valvetrain. In an oversquare 3.0L arrangement, this engine made 180hp, 189 lb-ft running on 98 octane. However, with a separate head and block, it couldn’t hold cylinder pressure like the Miller-Duck engine. It was also a bit heavier than it needed to be due to the original cam in block design. It was an expensive conversion, prohibitively so for many racers, and never quite matched the speed of Briggs’ 12 cylinder cars (151 hp @ 8600 rpm, 101 lb-ft @ 6800 rpm on 98 octane and less weight made it a better choice given tire and brake tech of the day. 9200 rpm redline!)

Pictured here, the original prototype and a later unit (this one happens to be fitted with the “Desmo” Tsunami 6). Worth noting are the vents at the top of the rear wheel arches. Intended to provide cooling to the differential and rear brakes, Ray found that air was, instead, exiting the vents into a low pressure area. So he simply flipped the vents around.

Otto Lagerfelter pulled onto Ray’s farm in a Model K and parked near the barn. Outside sat a stripped MSTV.

Otto: Hey Ray, how’s your little racer coming along?
Ray: It’s getting there. I’ve got the chassis pretty well nailed down, working on the aerodynamics presently.
Otto: That thing sure looks… well, weird. What’s going on here?
With that, Ray launched into an explanation that Otto couldn’t quite follow, something about boundary layers, separation vortices, center of pressure…
Otto: Okay, slow down, slow down. Why have you taped all these little strings to the car?
Ray: Because we don’t have a wind tunnel. These bits of yarn tell me what the air is doing at the surface of the car. Flow direction, whether the air is “clean”, whether pressure is positive or negative. I’m using chalk on the shocks to measure suspension travel. If I make a change and the car rides lower, I’ve got negative lift. And so on. Near as I can tell I’ve got it just about balanced front to rear, center of pressure near the rear of the car so it stays stable under braking.
Otto: It certainly looks the business, even if I can’t wrap my head around it. Interesting color choice.
Ray: Leftover military paint. Practically Free. It’s supposed to be fast. Not pretty.
Otto: Not much interior. Seats and dash, that’s from the MSTV I saw outside?
Ray: Pretty much. Again, practically free. And lightweight. Speaking of which, bumpers are easily unbolted at the track. You want to take it for a ride? Here, you drive.
Ray threw Otto the keys, and the roar of a racing engine ended conversation.


I was looking at the bonnet on the Toad there, and I just needed to vent…


Hot air has to go somewhere…


Jeepers, those overhead pics look like it’s been in a rollover.


The 1950-1954 Earl is the first product styled by Wisconsin Motors’ Styling Department, which was added in 1948 in response to pressure from Sales & Marketing. Rather than use engineering resources to re-engineer the monocoques, a decision was made instead to expand the product line with more focused products and fewer available trims per model. The Earl was intended to replace the Model K in the premium family market. With a bit less wheelbase and interior volume, CEO Karl Lagerfelter complained that he was paying the stylists to make his cars worse. Running gear is similar to the K, the most notable changes being increased displacement in all engines and improved carburation.

A total of 5 trims were offered for the Earl: Super Coupe, Sedan, Sport Sedan, Premium Sedan, and Angler Edition.


Sport & Premium Sedan

The Sedan was the entry-level Earl, with a 1900cc Hurricane inline 4. The next step up was a 3500cc Tsunami 6 in the Sport Sedan. At the top of the line, the Premium Sedan featured the Windigo 7000cc V12. All three featured seating for five, with a value added premium interior and radio.

Super Coupe

The Super Coupe was offered with the Windigo V12, now stretched to 7.0L, Four Speed Trans, and a stiffer suspension than the rest of the line. Value added premium interior appointments and radio provide comfort and entertainment for up to four passengers.

Angler Edition

The Angler Edition is a bit of an odd duck in this lineup. A personal “pet project” for Raymond Lagerfelter, it reflected his own desires for a car: raised suspension, 4WD with locking axles, skid tray and off-road tires because he liked to go exploring, a standard interior with no radio so you could get it wet and dirty, enough room to take the whole family camping (seats for 5), Independent suspension and a 1900cc Hurricane hooked to a wide-ratio 4 speed gave good off-road control yet remained highway capable, and of course, goofy trim, because Fishing.

1951-1956 Virgil

Release of the 1950-1956 Virgil followed close on the heels of the Earl, and shared similar design cues on a larger scale. The Virgil was offered in four trims: Sedan, Premium Sedan, Super Coupe and Super Estate. The Sedan was powered by the 3.5L Tsunami Six or 4.8L Windigo, remaining models used the Windigo 7.0L v12. All featured fully independent suspension, ladder frame, four speed manual trans, and value added premium radio and interior trim. This body style also features small rear fins, which would grow over the years.

Virgil Sedan and Premium Sedan (Premium lower 2 pics:wink:)

Virgil Super Coupe

Virgil Super Wagon

All Models feature seating for 4, value added premium interior and radio, ladder frame, 4 wheel independent suspension and 4 speed manual.