Tuesday, March 31, 2009

K Is For Kaiser


It's time again For ABC Wednesday. If you aren't participating in ABC Wednesday, you are missing out on a lot of fun. This week the letter is "K". K is for Kaiser.


I know that one of the most burning questions being asked today is whatever happened to Kaiser automobiles. Since I am privy to just such information, I thought I would do my civic duty and give you this privileged information.

The Kaiser automobile was the product of the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation. The company was the result of a partnership between automobile executive Joseph W. Frazer and Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser of Kaiser Industries. The company rose from the ashes of the Graham-Paige Motor Company.

38 Graham 3
DADDY'S 1938 SHARK NOSED GRAHAM

In August 1944, Joseph Frazer, former president of Willys-Overland, assumed control of Graham-Paige, and announced that the company would resume automobile manufacture after the war with a completely new car. The new car was to be called "Frazer" rather than "Graham". Frazer quickly had Graham humming with activity. While looking for financial backing, Frazer met Henry J. Kaiser who also had plans for a postwar automobile. The two agreed to work together and in August 1945 formed the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation to build a new Kaiser car. Two Kaisers were to be built for every Frazer, which was to remain a Graham-Paige product. Joe Frazer became president of both companies and Henry Kaiser chairman of Kaiser-Frazer.


Graham-Paige was unable to finance its share of expenses, so the company quit the car business, and transferred all of their automotive assets to Kaiser-Frazer. Kaiser automobiles were manufactured from 1946 to 1955, when declining sales forced the closing of Kaiser's domestic automobile operations. At that time production was moved to Argentina and Brazil, where the company turned out a series of sedans, trucks and Jeeps until the 1960's.

Kaiser Carabela Elegant
AD FOR KAISER IN ARGENTINA

In 1953 Kaiser bought the Willys-Overland company, the producer of Jeep utility vehicles, and merged the Kaiser and Willys operations. By 1956 the company had stopped building Kaiser automobiles and was only building Jeep utility vehicles. The company changed its name to Kaiser-Jeep in 1963.


By 1969, Kaiser Industries decided to leave the automobile business, which was sold to American Motors in 1970. Included in the sale was the General Products Division, which Kaiser had purchased from Studebaker in 1964. AMC renamed the division AM General, which remains an independent company and government and military contractor. AM General sold the rights to the Hummer name to General Motors in 1999 but continues to build the vehicles for GM.


American Motors Corporation manufactured Jeep vehicles until AMC was purchased by Chrysler in 1987. Chrysler wanted the Jeep vehicle line because of the rising popularity of utility vehicles. In 1998 Chrysler Motors, and Diamler-Benz merged to form Diamler Chrysler Corporation. The Jeep brand was one of the reasons that Diamler was interested in Chrysler.

What happened to Kaiser? If you are driving a Jeep or a Hummer, in reality you are driving a Kaiser. Even though the Kaiser name is no longer used on vehicles, the legacy of Henry J. Kaiser lives on.





25 comments:

  1. How interesting...I did not know that. My dad would love this post! Love the shark nose car!

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  2. Ah...I've got such a soft spot for Classic Cars...Nice timing on this post as well with current events as they are here in the U.S.! Very wonderful and timely post!

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  3. Bill said...

    Great post! Brought back a flood of memories.
    My dad, being a car mechanic, always had a spare one in the yard. When he died we had 27 spares. I never realized until I was 40 years old that we were poor white trash. We just never could get the tire stacking thing done right. But I digress. One of the cars that ran was a 48 Frazer. Unknown to most people, that car can be hot wired with a screw driver and no damage is done to the car. As kids, we drove the car up and down the driveway all summer for hours at a time. Talk about a tank! That "Lark" ended abruptly one day when daddy had a breakdown and came home to get the Frazer to go to work. He got 4 houses down the road and ran out of gas. He had put the car up with almost a full tank of gas. I was enlisted to go help him get it started. Being more honest than smart we were busted. Dad and I had a long "discussion: about that one. That did not end the "car abuse". Years later my younger sister decided that the car was rusting too badly, so she painted half of it with yellow Rustolium using a paint brush. Not even a clean one. The car sat like that until dad died. My mom just about gave it away to a man for $50.00 without telling me or my brother. We both would have wanted it. I just hope it was restored. It was a Great Car.
    Thanks Richard for bringing back the Memories.

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  4. I'm not really a car person, but those cars are beautiful. The only thing making them more beautiful (in my mind, it's probably sacrilege) would be if they were bright hot pink!

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  5. Interesting post, Richard. My husband was a "car nut" and big-time 'horse trader" when it came to cars. We had a variety of automobiles during our marriage including a Studebaker (at the time a very hot car on campus) followed by a Kaiser, a Hudson Hornet, and an Edsel, interspersed with a variety of other "standard" cars such as Ford, Chevy, Buick, Lincoln, Cadillac and Renault. We had only three new cars during that time: one Ford (which lasted less than 12 hours--the dealer didn't service the car correctly and the motor burned up), the Edsel (the only one he took a financial "licking" on) and the Renault.

    I enjoyed the photo of the shark-nosed Graham; that's one I never encountered, and I suspect my husband didn't either -- or we would have owned one, if even for a few months, which was approximately the length of time he kept a car before "trading up."

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  6. Beautiful pics and instructive post.

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  7. You have taught me quite a lot I didn't know - but then there is quite a lot I don't know. These cars are practically unknown over here (except for the Jeep) - real interesting.

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  8. A very interesting post. Never heard of 'Kaiser' cars. Love the early Kaisers.

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  9. Wow ... well, I'd never heard of Kaiser automobiles, but I do love that shark-nosed model!

    OH and I were just talking about vintage cars today, but of course our experience is on this side of The Pond, in the UK.

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  10. Wow, that was greate photoes of cars. Have a fun abc.

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  11. Thanks for such an informative post. I am a non driver and not really into cars but I enjoyed your post :)

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  12. What a great post! Thanks for all the interesting info! I remember Kaiser autos and had wondered what ever happened to them and now I know and my son drives a Jeep -- now I have to tell him that actually, he isn't! What a hoot! Super K word!!

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  13. This was so interesting. They look like beautiful cars.

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  14. Thanks so much for contributing to ABC Wednesday! The responses speak so much for the reason why!
    Awesome!

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  15. I see these cars and I identify so many classic films to go with such classic cars. I enjoyed your Sunday Roast post on Authorblog. Very Honest reponses.

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  16. I remember these - always found them truly fascinating! But, of course, I loved cars. And Kaiser has been an interesting company to follow, as well. Nice post - thank you!

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  17. This was great info...that first pic of the 54 Kaiser is a beauty...enjoyed this..

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  18. A great chapter of the industrial past ...
    Beautiful cars .

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  19. Well, that's quite interesting indeed. I drive a Jeep TJ and never knew the history behind it. My husband also works at Chrysler, Jeep Auto and I don't think he knows the story behind this as well. I will have to ask him.
    A very good post.

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  20. Thanks, richie, for this great "K" post. I'm old enough to remember Kaisers and Frazers and Hudsons and DeSotos and Edsels and Packards ("Ask the man who owns one") and I learned to drive on an AMC Nash Metropolitan that was about the size of a roller skate.

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  21. Such an educational post - as in keeping with your "purpose". I've always loved Jeeps, have yet to own one, but now I can appreciate its history better when I do. Thanks!

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  22. Such an interesting post knowing the evolution of this company. Their cars were very distinctive looking, I was stunned by Daddy's sharkhead!!

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  23. I'm afraid I only look on cars as a means of transport - but that shark-nose certainly looks like something really special!

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  24. Your dad's car looks like it will be VERY cool when it's finished!

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  25. Fascinating look at these old cars!

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