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Kastory Motor Body Co., A. Kastory & Co., Kastory Mfg. Co.
A. Kastory (auto & carriage painter), 1908-1916; A. Kastory & Co., 1908-1918; Kastory Mfg. Co., 1918-1928; La Grange, Illinois; Kastory Motor Body Co., 1928-1930s; Chicago, Illinois
Associated Firms

This little-known Chicago-based commercial body builder was founded by a European immigrant of Polish descent named Anton Kastory.

Kastory was born on October 20, 1885 in the French speaking portion of the Alsace-Lorraine region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which is currently located just west of the modern French-German border. After he completed his secondary education (8th grade) he was apprenticed as a carriage painter. In 1904 the nineteen-year-old emigrated to the United States, finding work in his chosen profession with a La Grange, Illinois, carriage builder.

According to a later account, Kastory established his own paint and body works in 1908, although he didn’t formally organize the firm until early 1916.

On October 15, 1910 Anton married Louise Schuck (another Austro-Hungarian immigrant) in Chicago, Cook, Illinois, and to the blessed union were born three children, Estelle (b.1912 – m. Arthur Schultz in 1930), Helen (b. 1913) and Frank (b. Sep. 6, 1918) Kastory.

La Grange is a southwest suburb of Chicago located 15 miles from the Chicago Loop.

On April 3, 1916, Kastory formed A. Kastory & Co. in La Grange, Cook County, Illinois, its initial capitalization being listed as $2,000.

The July, 1916 issue of the Automobile Trade Journal announced the firm had constructed a new manufactory:

“A. Kastory & Co., have erected 50 x 50 ft. large shop and taken in additional capital.”

A name change was announced under the Removals and Trade Changes column of the July, 1918 issue of the Automobile Trade Journal:

“A. Kastory & Co., La Grange, Ill., auto and carriage painter, is now known as Kastory Mfg. Co.”

His September 12, 1918 draft registration lists his employer as “A. Kastory Co., 301 Hillgrove Ave., La Grange, Cook County, Illinois,” his occupation “Manufacturer of Commercial Truck Bodies.”

A special body outfitted to carry a Fordson tractor was pictured in the June 26, 1919 issue of Motor Age which carried the following caption:

“This is a Ford truck chassis with a special body made by A. Kastory & Co. There is a hand winch directly back of the cab on the platform of the truck. These are being sold to the Fordson dealers in central Illinois by Dayton Keith, distributor, Bloomington Ill. While it is not made obligatory upon the dealer to have this service truck he is strongly urged to have one. Keith has hauled a Fordson tractor 50 miles on his truck.”

Ware Brothers 1919 Vehicle Yearbook lists the firm in Illinois under commercial body builders as follows:

“LA GRANGE  A. Kastory & Co. 301-309 Hillgrove Ave. (Wh) (Com) (W-M); A. Kastory, pres., pur. agt. and gen'l mgr.; F. D. Cossitt, sec. and treas.”

Their 1921 edition updated their moniker:

LA GRANGE - Kastory Mfg. Co. 301-309 Hillgrove Ave. (Wh)(Com) (W-M) A. Kastory, pres., pur. agt. and gen'l mgr.; F. D. Cossitt, sec. and treas.”

The June 1922 issue of the Automotive Manufacturer announced a substantial increase in the firm's manufacturing capacity:

“Kastory Mfg. Co., maker of automobile bodies, La Grange. III., plans the construction of a one-story addition, 100 x 125 ft., to cost $40,000.”

The July 1922 issue of the same publication (Automotive Manufacturer) provides a much lower dollar amount for the expansion:

“Kastory Mfg. Co., maker of automobile bodies, La Grange. III., plans the construction of a one-story addition, 100 x 125 ft., to cost $28,000.”

The July 13, 1922 issue of Iron Trade Review corroborated the lower figure:

“LA GRANGE, ILL. — The Kastory Mfg. Co., maker of automobile bodies, has let a contract for a 1-story plant, 100 x 125 feet to cost about $28,000.”

Pictured to the right in an enclosed mobile service station the firm constructed on a 1926 White Model 51 chassis for the Sinclair Oil & Refining Co. The attractive gas and air dispensing body housed an air compressor, enclosed fuel tank, and 2 visible gasoline pumps allowing it to service as many as three vehicles at a time.

An early 1928 issue of Autobody reported on the firm’s removal to a one story 75 x 120 ft., “temporary plant’ in Chicago, formerly owned by The Central Auto Body Co.:

“Kastory Motor Body Co., builder of commercial and bus bodies, has sold its factory building at La Grange, Ill., where the firm has been building vehicular bodies for the past 20 years. It is occupying temporarily a plant at 3942-46 West Lake St., Chicago, and contemplates moving into a more modern factory next spring. No change in the general activities of the company is being considered, the move having been made to take advantage of a favorable offer for the old plant and to provide more convenient servicing facilities for its customers, most of whom are in Chicago.”

The new plant was located 13 miles northeast of the firm's original plant directly beneath the West Lake St “L”.

A subsequent issue of Autobody included an photograph of a Diamond T sedan-type bus with the following caption:

“Sedan-type hotel bus, on Diamond T chassis, was built by the Kastory Motor Body Co. in its shops at 3942-46 Lake St., Chicago. All windows are fitted with Protex safety glass. Placement of the spare wheel at the rear follows a treatment that is now much used.”

A display ad in a 1929 issue of the American Federationist provides the following information:

“Kastory Motor Body Co. Builders of Motor Truck Bodies REPAIRING AND PAINTING 3942-46 W. Lake Street CHICAGO Phone, Stewart 7503.”

The 1930 US Census lists Anton Katory’s residence as 1201 N. 41st St., Lyons, Cook County, Illinois, his occupation truck body manufacturer.

Like many other small commercial body builders across the country, Kastory was unable to weather the early stages of the Depression and vanished from the trade directories in the early 1930s. The 1940 US Census lists his residence as Oak Park, Cook County, Illinois, his occupation sales.

Kastory’s La Grange plant still exists, although it’s been extensively remodeled into retail space. Its Chicago factory is also standing and most recently housed the Packer Schopf Gallery, an art gallery specializing in emerging and mid-career artists.

© 2012 Mark Theobald for







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

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