Junkyard Gem: 1947 Frazer Manhattan

Autos bearing the Kaiser badge— with its Je suis prêt (I am completely ready) slogan— were marketed for just the 1947 by 1951 design many years, so you won’t discover quite a few in your neighborhood car or truck graveyard these times (though I did control to find a discarded ’51 Frazer Vagabond a decade back). That is a shame, due to the fact the contemplation of a weathered Frazer opens a intriguing window into some vital automotive history. Here is just one of the initially automobiles at any time developed by the Kaiser-Frazer Company, now residing in a Denver self-provider lawn.

Joseph Washington Frazer— of course, that center name derives from an ancestry that incorporated the initially President of the United States— is just not a household title now, but he played a pivotal position in the development of Chrysler Company (it was Frazer who considered up the title for the Plymouth Division), went on to operate Willys-Overland (in which he trademarked the Jeep brand) through Planet War II, and then took about Graham-Paige with the plan of setting up hundreds of thousands of civilian cars following the war. Missing funds, he joined forces with industrialist Henry J. Kaiser (who masterminded the corporation that cranked out 2,710 Liberty Ships in the course of the war) and the two males produced the Kaiser-Frazer Company.

The firm leased the extensive Willow Operate plant in Michigan, initially developed to manufacture B-24 Liberator bombers in the course of the war, and— in legitimate Liberty Ship fashion— arrived up with layouts for two all-new cars and trucks seemingly right away. One particular was a radical unibody-chassis device with entrance-wheel-generate that in no way produced it into creation even with plenty of hoopla through 1946, while the other was a common system-on-frame sedan with rear-wheel-drive and a components-bin powertrain. The second design and style went into manufacturing at Willow Run as a 1947 model, with the Frazer versions priced greater than their Kaiser counterparts. The Manhattan was the top rated-of-the-line Kaiser-Frazer design, priced at $2,550 (about $35,145 in 2022 pounds) that calendar year. You could acquire the reduce-zoot Kaiser Particular variation for a mere $1,868 ($25,745 today).

Ford, GM, and Chrysler were being even now developing prewar styles at this time, so the slab sides of the Kaiser-Frazers appeared futuristic by comparison. The postwar lack of new vehicles intended that purchasers didn’t a lot treatment if their ’47s and ’48s ended up genuinely late-1930s patterns, even as streamlined rocket-powered plane flew faster than seem, so desperate automobile purchasers snapped up all the things new with four wheels and an motor throughout the 1946-1948 interval (my grandfather purchased a new 1946 Crosley as his postwar function vehicle and regretted the choice instantly).

As soon as the Detroit Significant 3 experienced completed the transition from constructing tanks and bombers to creating and building present day Unique Deluxes, Tudors, and Chieftans, however, the get together was about for Kaiser-Frazer. Not only did everyone’s 1949 designs function slab-sided bodies, but overhead-valve engines ended up becoming the Subsequent Huge Point. Cadillac and Oldsmobile boasted brand-new pushrod V8s that calendar year, Chevrolet had offered an OHV straight-6 because the 1920s (Buick marketed OHV straight-eights beginning in 1931), and even the flathead-engine holdouts have been jacking up compression ratios and making their previous valve-in-block engines look modern day. Meanwhile, Kaiser-Frazer was trapped with the most generic of off-the-shelf engines conceivable: the Continental flathead straight-six.

The historical past of this motor is so tangled that I might have to create a doctoral dissertation to do it justice below, but the condensed version is that Continental built engines for other makers (of tractors, plane, turbines, vehicles, autos, you title it) starting up in 1905, and eventually far more than 100 will make of car would be built making use of some variant of the Continental flathead straight-six. In reality, the extremely final new flathead-equipped auto you could obtain in the United States was the 1964 Checker Marathon, which could be ordered with a 226-cubic-inch (3.7-liter) Continental.

Kaiser-Frazers also made use of the Continental 226 (the later Kaiser Henry J used Willys flathead engines), coupled to a 3-on-the-tree column-shift guide transmission. Kaiser-Frazer sales collapsed in 1949, never ever to get well. Joe Frazer give up the business immediately after infinite squabbles with the stubborn Henry Kaiser, and the Frazer model bought the axe after 1951 (when the autos were being just 1950 versions built with leftover elements).

The final Kaiser-badged cars and trucks marketed in The united states were 1955 versions, whilst Jeep creation ongoing less than the Kaiser-owned Willys Motor Corporation and then Kaiser-Jeep. Jeep finished up in the fingers of American Motors, which was consumed by Chrysler in 1987. We could as a result take into account modern Junkyard Gem to be a distant ancestor of the automobiles created by the existing-working day Stellantis Empire, generating it a cousin quite a few periods removed of the Opel Grandland Plug-in Hybrid and Peugeot 208. The Kaiser Permanente health care organization, founded all through Environment War II as a signifies of offering healthcare treatment for Kaiser shipyard employees in California and named immediately after the creek close to Kaiser’s cement plant, is the most obvious remnant currently of Kaiser-Frazer.

Packed with heritage as it is, this car in no way had a prospect of obtaining place back on the highway right after expending decades outdoor in Significant Plains Colorado. A pretty pleasant ’47 Manhattan just isn’t truly worth substantially now, regrettably, so a tough a person is worthy of its body weight in scrap.

Keep in mind, your Kaiser-Frazer vendor is offering now!