Welcome back to the Manufacturing Series! After a few weeks off, today’s article is about the famous bumper car manufacturer Lusse Brothers, Incorporated. Lusse Brothers got into the bumper car business in the early 1920s and the company existed until 1994.
Lusse Brothers, Inc., was a machine shop in Philadelphia that provided parts to the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. It was run by Joseph and Ray Lusse. In 1922, Lusse Bros. filed a handful of patents for the bumper car ride they called “Auto Skooter.” These patents made significant improvements over the Dodgem model, invented by Max and Harold Stoehrer, in Massachusetts, in 1919.
Hersheypark installed their first bumper car ride, in 1926. The ride was called Skooter. Located near where the current bumper cars (Fender Bender) is today, these were only in the park until the end of the 1930 season. These used 1926 model Lusse cars. They were removed to make way for the addition of The Pretzel.
In 1938, the park brought the bumper cars back. They were placed in a building in the hollow, which is still in the park today (this is the Famous Famiglia’s stand near sooperdooperLooper and Skyrush). The Auto-Skooters used 1938 model Lusse cars. In the 1950s or early 1960s, the cars were updated with 1953 model Lusse cars.
In 1978, Hersheypark installed two new sets of Lusse bumper cars, when the current Fender Bender building was constructed. Hersheypark significantly increased the number of cars for their bumper car ride – ordering 45 cars. The other set of cars the park purchased was Lusse’s kiddie auto-skooter cars. These cars were placed in the old Auto-Skooter building, only being relocated to the lower level of the Fender Bender building in 1982.
Lusse Brothers also worked with Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1978 to produce coal-themed cars for the Coal Shaker, an updated version of Cuddle Up. (Coal Shaker was removed following the 1989 season, as part of the Minetown renovations.)
After the 1995 season, Hersheypark removed the kidde auto-skooters, then called Mini-Skooters. Hersheypark has not installed a kiddie bumper car ride since. After the 1996 season, Hersheypark purchased a new set of bumper cars, except these were from Reverchon.
To read more about other ride manufacturers that have made rides for Hersheypark, click here.
I have a wide variety of interests, from sports to politics, music to Star Trek. I write about the history of amusement parks on my website, The Amusement Parkives, which I founded in 2016.