Saturday, May 08, 2010

The '55 Kaiser: One Stunning Automobile

A grayish old car on a grayish central Illinois day? Yet even so, this '55 Kaiser Manhattan is simply stunning to view.

One look at these photos ought to be enough to explain my membership in the Kaiser Frazer Owners Club, whose Midwest Division Spring Meet is happening this weekend just across the river in East Peoria. (Go ahead, click on any of these photos for a bigger view.)

Wouldn't she look just fab in front of Zion's Parsonage? Okay, in my mind I see it on the driveway of the Canoga Park home I grew up in. Either way, though, one like this is likely well beyond Pastor Zip's reach. After all, only 226 of these four-door sedans were made for sale in the US, the Kaiser's last model year as a domestic auto make. Another 1000 or so were exported to Argentina.

But look at those wire wheels. (I was told the owner takes them off for the winter and stores them inside.) Or the "Safety-Glo" taillights -- which look even bolder in the view below. To my eye, at least, the only "dated" items on the Kaiser are the separate bumpers and the wide-white walls. Why under the hood is a supercharged six cylinder engine. Not bad for a 55-year-old car, eh?

There are many reasons why this was the end of the line for Kaiser, many examined in Richard M. Langworth's excellent (but out-of-print) book, The Last Onslaught on Detroit. But what an end result.


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Graham Dawson said...

What a beautiful car! I have such a soft spot in my heart for Kaisers and Frazers. Thanks for posting!