We just looked at woody station wagons. Woodies supposedly had a role in the development of the Kaiser Traveller. There are two different versions of how the Kaiser Traveller came to be. The version told by Kaiser Frazer public relations was that industrialist Henry Kaiser was unhappy with the creaky wooden bodied station wagon his family used at their Lake Tahoe retreat. Woodies needed a carpenter as well as a mechanic and they rattled and squeaked. Cargo space wasn’t as useful as it could be because rear seats didn’t generally fold down in the early 1950s. He summoned Kaiser executives to the retreat and drawing a line in the dust on the back deck of a Kaiser sedan, suggested a clamshell design, with the back glass and rear deck a hatch and the rear valence a fold down tailgate. The reality is that Kaiser body engineer Ralph Isbrandt was probably looking for a way of expanding the Kaiser Frazer lineup without having to design a completely new body shell. K-F, then the largest of the postwar independents, was constrained by having only a single four door body shell. The cost of tooling up a station wagon body was probably prohibitive. Actually, the costs of making the Traveller and the higher trim level Vagabond, were not insignificant, with over 200 engineering changes needed. Apparently one of the most difficult things to design was a fold down license plate holder that complied with laws in all 50 states. The yellow Traveller is in the collection of the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum. The attractive two-tone green and white 1951 Deluxe Traveller was also in Ypsilanti, at the Orphan Car Show.
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