Kaiser Frazers Don’t Take Manhattan

Kaiser Manhattan, styled by Howard Darrin
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Aaron Severson’s history of the Kaiser Darrin over at Ate Up With Motor got me thinking. It’s kind of unfortunate that Kaiser Frazer folded. Though their first cars were conventional, they were handsomely styled, if a bit staid. As the company struggled to survive, their cars got more daring, mostly due to the contribution of designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin, who styled the Kaiser Frazer Manhattan and the famous Kaiser Darrin, the sports car with the sliding doors. The Henry J, like Nash’s (and later AMC’s) Rambler, anticipated that not all Americans wanted big land yachts. Unfortunately a lack of funds hamstrung Kaiser Frazer. To get the Henry J to market at a saleable price, they had to decontent it to the point where even frugal folks thought it was too cheap. Likewise, a lack of funds kept the company using obsolete engines from Continental. A V8 engine was designed but couldn’t be put into production because of costs. All that innovation went for naught because by then customers could sense that K-F was in a death spiral. That K-F engine design would later become the basis for American Motors’ first V8 when the engineer who designed it, David Potter, was hired by AMC. Here are a selection of Kaiser Frazers shown at the 2011 Eyes On Design show.

Kaiser Darrin
Click on the anaglyph 3D image to launch a Flash player and view the entire gallery of photos in 2D or your choice of 3D formats.

 


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