BF Auction: 1954 Kaiser Manhattan

Sold for $19,300View Result

UPDATE – More photos of this Manhattan have been added to the gallery below! Be sure to take another look.

UPDATE – The reserve has been met! The high bidder will be taking this one home.

The pages of automotive history books are full of manufacturers who have disappeared to the point where they are little more than distant memories. Without dedicated individuals like the owner of this 1954 Kaiser Manhattan, there would be little to show for their presence in the passenger car production world. This Manhattan is a tidy classic needing a new home. The owner feels the time is right, listing it exclusively on Barn Find Auctions.

Palm Beach Ivory is a classy shade, and it is the perfect one to grace the panels of this Manhattan. It presents beautifully, with no significant blemishes visible in the comprehensive selection of supplied photos. The panels are as impressive as the paint, with no bumps, bruises, or signs of prior accident damage. The best news for potential bidders is this classic’s lack of rust. They don’t come much cleaner than this Kaiser, meaning the new owner can leave the grinder and welder safely tucked away in the cupboard. The chrome is spotless, and the glass is crystal clear. Rounding out the exterior are wide whitewall tires that provide the perfect finishing touch to this classy classic.

Kaiser utilized its 161ci flathead six across many models during this era, with the normally-aspirated version producing 118hp. However, they added a supercharger to the Manhattan’s six, boosting the output to 140hp and torque to 210 ft/lbs. This car sends that power to the rear wheels via a GM-sourced four-speed Hydramatic transmission, allowing the 3,550 lb Manhattan to cover the ¼-mile in 20.8 seconds before winding its way to a top speed of 94mph. However, most owners will be less concerned about outright performance as they will be about the car’s ability to cruise all day at highway speeds. It should do this while returning fuel consumption figures of around 16mpg. The engine bay of this classic presents as nicely as the rest of the vehicle, and this car isn’t merely about good looks. The odometer reads a genuine 63,133 miles. The car runs and drives well but has been a little finicky starting after being revived from its slumber. It’s been on display in a private museum until recently and a thorough inspection of the brake system would be advisable in the interest of safety.

If the Kaiser’s exterior makes a positive impression, its interior continues that theme. Trimmed in rich red cloth and contrasting Ivory vinyl, it reinforces the Manhattan’s luxury leanings. The passenger side armrest is missing, and the photos suggest there may be a split on the driver’s side of the front seat. Otherwise, there are no issues. The remaining upholstered surfaces, including the dash pad, are spotless. The gauges are clear, the painted surfaces shine nicely, and there are no aftermarket additions. The factory pushbutton radio occupies its rightful spot, as does the clock.

Although Kaiser disappeared many years ago, its products are gaining newfound recognition in the classic market. Values for the 1954 Manhattan have climbed steadily in recent years, and that trend shows no sign of slowing… not to mention the bragging rights that come with owning a sharp factory supercharged example like this. Now could be the perfect time to park one in your garage, and this might be the ideal candidate. It’s clean condition and original configuration mean the successful bidder may score an excellent long-term investment. If you’re sorely tempted, maybe it would be worth making a play for this gem.

See the rest of the Kaiser-Frazer Collection here!

  • Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma
  • Mileage: 63,133 Shown, TMU
  • Engine: Supercharged 161ci Flathead Six
  • Transmission: Hydramatic 4-Speed
  • VIN: 161001409
  • Title Status: Titled On Engine Number – Clean

Bid On This Vehicle

Sold for: $19,300
Register To Bid
Ended: Apr 18, 2023 11:10am MDT
Winner: psirotary
  • psirotary bid $19,300.00  2023-04-18 11:06:34
  • PMD1965 bid $19,200.00  2023-04-18 11:04:58
  • psirotary
    bid $19,000.00  2023-04-18 11:03:23
  • PMD1965 bid $18,300.00  2023-04-18 11:01:04
  • psirotary bid $18,050.00  2023-04-18 11:00:25
  • PMD1965
    bid $17,900.00  2023-04-18 10:59:52
  • halc bid $17,800.00  2023-04-18 10:59:39
  • psirotary bid $17,700.00  2023-04-18 10:58:14
  • halc
    bid $17,600.00  2023-04-18 10:57:04
  • PMD1965 bid $17,400.00  2023-04-17 12:30:22
  • J4Co bid $16,900.00  2023-04-12 08:02:46
  • PMD1965
    bid $16,800.00  2023-04-11 08:56:49
  • J4Co bid $14,500.00  2023-04-11 07:53:21
  • PMD1965 bid $14,400.00  2023-04-10 15:23:23
  • bak
    bid $10,000.00  2023-04-10 14:28:07
  • PMD1965 bid $9,300.00  2023-04-10 11:00:36
  • BlisterEm bid $4,000.00  2023-04-10 09:35:40
  • Wheels
    bid $2,500.00  2023-04-10 05:57:30
  • gt bid $1,100.00  2023-04-09 21:06:03


  1. Dan Baker

    When I was much younger, an older brother-in-law had a Kaiser. It has to be early to mid ’50’s.
    I have never forgot that car because the door panels were covered in what this young boy thought was bamboo. Does anyone remember a Kaiser with that style interior?

    Like 3
    • Fred W

      Dan, look up photos of the Kaiser Dragon interior (1953), might be it. Very rare model. Most upholstery resembles alligator or snakeskin but I see some that resemble bamboo

      Like 2
      • Dan Baker

        Thanks Fred W. I’ll check that out. I’ve always remembered that Kaiser and its’ interior. I’m 76 now, so it’s been awhile!

        Like 0
      • Raoul-F Raoul-F

        Isn’t the engine a 226 CI one?

        Like 0
    • Linda

      Yes, my father had one during the time

      Like 0
    • duaney

      The bamboo vinyl was used in 53 Manhattans, Dragons, and the 54 Early Specials. Came in brown, blue, red, and black. The doors and seat were a combination of the bamboo, and boucle, (a different texture), and contrasting colors.

      Like 4
      • Dan Baker

        Awesome! Thanks so much Duaney. Now I know I didn’t imagine the Kaiser with bamboo interior those many years ago. Thanks again!

        Like 0
    • Nick A Hockman Member

      This is the one I would want. I would swap my 2 door traveler.

      Like 0
      • John Ruth

        Looked you up and saw photos of your 2 door Traveler. Nice color combo. Mine is all green. You have a few other nice cars too.

        Like 1
  2. Michael

    This engine is the 226 cubic inch motor which originated from Continental Motors. The 161 cubic inch is a Willys motor used in the Henry J.

    Like 3
  3. Dan Baker

    The Kaiser of my childhood memories that I believed to have bamboo interior was almost certainly a Kaiser Dragon. Thanks to Fred, I searched for photos of the Dragon interior. A Saturday Evening Post Kaiser ad has a very good interior photo that does resemble bamboo. Thanks again Fred W.
    I have thought of that car for many years.

    Like 1
  4. bobdog

    How many models did Kaiser have – Dragon, Standard, Darrin, Manhattan, Special, any others ???

    Like 0
  5. Denny N. Member

    This is a two door sedan; the vast majority of Kaisers were four doors, making this example more desirable.

    Like 4
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


      You are correct, this is indeed a VERY rare car. Production of 1954-55 Kaiser 2-door cars of any type is as follows:

      1954 K5454 standard 2-door club coupe; 180 examples.
      1954 K542 Manhattan 2-door club coupe; 218 examples.
      And the rarest one of all:
      1955 K516 Manhattan 2-door club coupe; 44 examples.
      That’s a grand total of 442 cars.

      I’ve been a K-F enthusiast for 50 years, and I don’t remember ever seeing any 1954 or 55 Kaiser 2-door sedans in person, even at K-F national meets.

      Like 2
      • Duaney

        I just don’t have the figures handy, but as for 2 doors in 1954, there was the Early Special, the Late Special, and the Manhattan. I mentioned in other posts that Early Special production estimated at 3500 cars, break down of 2 or 4 door unknown, but most would have been the 4 door.

        Like 0
  6. Robert Liivoja

    My ex-wife’s father had a Kaiser.
    He absolutely loved that car.
    He kept it sitting on his front lawn even after he purchased a brand new 1969 Pontiac Parisiene.
    Years into driving his new car, he still raved about his Kaiser.
    At some point in the mid seventies he decided to get rid of it.
    If I had not been a young dough head, I should have taken that car and put it back on the road.
    Good old hindsight!

    Like 3
  7. Frank Barrett Member

    Rare opportunity to own a distinctive American car, especially the two-door version.Years ago I spotted a black Manhattan in a Lakewood, Colorado, trailer park.It was a little shabby but evidently being driven. Should have chased it down. This one looks far cleaner, with only minor needs.

    Like 2
  8. LMK

    It’s a handsome sedan….I haven’t seen many of these…..

    Like 2
  9. HC Member

    This 54 Manhattan is sure a head turner, especially being a 2 door version. Car guys usually gravitate to cars in years that they grew up with and I’m more of a 60s guy. But this 54 is certainly in showroom condition, and is a turnkey classic someone can really enjoy. Great find.

    Like 3
  10. LMK

    My error in my earlier post…This is a handsome 2 door .

    Like 1
  11. Wheels

    Anyone bidding on any auction I believe their is a one $1.00 Dollar bid charge and I believe maybe another $1.00 if you place your bid too higher amount? Wife asked me about charge on credit card. Lol . It’s no big Deal . It’s a cool auction!

    Like 0
    • HC Member

      There’s also a 5% buyer fee. Which is also not a big deal buying a car either.

      Like 0
    • Joshua Mortensen Staff

      The $1 verification gets refunded, whether you win the auction or not. It should have only ran it when you registered to bid though, so I’ll check your account!


      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        To explain further,

        I used to bid on various online auctions, and when registering for the first time, it’s very common for the auction company [but not the hosting website] to charge a $1 fee to confirm both the credit card’s number and bank account is current. These $1 charges are generally reversed automatically, but this can take a few days, depending on the bank’s policy.

        Once you’ve registered with that specific credit [or debit] card, subsequent auctions with that auction company shouldn’t involve another $1 “test” charge. Because the $1 test charge is tracked by the card number and not your personal info, if you change card numbers [even with the same bank account], you will probably find a new $1 temp charge.

        Like 1
  12. Carl Eidsness

    Is the interior fabric on this car for sale the original?

    Like 0
    • StuP Member


      We don’t know for sure but it almost looks too nice to be original upholstery. The discoloration in the picture of the driver’s seat is a seam, not a split.


      Like 0
    • Duaney

      The seats aren’t at all like the original, and the door panels are fabricated. You might be able to Google 54 Kaiser Manhattan and see pictures of the interior, or try the KFOC club website for pictures.

      Like 0
      • Heck Dodson Member

        I’m sure all the original upholstery you’re referring to being not original, has long disintegrated on a car of this age. Can’t you just appreciate what a great job this guy did? I think I’d a great job.

        Like 4
  13. Joshua Mortensen Staff

    The reserve is off!

    Like 0
  14. Carl Eidsness

    I own a 1953 Manhattan with all the upholstery still in near pristine condition. The plastic part of it was probably originally white. Now it looks more like a dark cream. I haven’t tried yet, but am thinking a good cleaning may lighten it up a bit again.
    Carl Eidsness

    Like 0
    • duaney

      The boucle isn’t supposed to be one color. It’s supposed to be dark and lighter tones mixed in. Don’t use anything harsh to clean it with. None of it was ever white, the colors are beige, red, green, blue, black.

      Like 1
  15. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


    The problem with early vinyl upholstery is it tends to “off gas” chemicals as it ages, including bleaching agents. The change in color [and sometimes it becomes hardened as well] is not something that can be cleaned up. The only chance you really have in bringing back color involves using solvents to remove the top layer, and if you don’t get all of the solvent out of any microscopic cracks & sew lines, the solvent will continue to damage the vinyl.

    There are special vinyl paints to change colors, however they don’t work well on car upholstery, especially seating surfaces. Having operated a restoration shop that specialized in rare & unusual vehicles, the types where original upholstery was not available and not reproduced, led me to experimenting with solving the problem you mention.

    You might be able to clean off any dirt from the top layer, but I doubt it will make much of a difference. Personally, if it’s not torn or has other wear problems, I would only clean off the soil/dirt, and leave it alone, as it’s only original once!

    Like 1
    • duaney

      Like my above comment, don’t ever use any solvent. Ordinary soap, or a gentle bath room cleaner. The colors actually never change, only when exposed to sunlight. I’ve owned these cars with this upholstery since 1970.

      Like 1
  16. Carl

    I was planning to use warm water, dishwashing detergent, and a tooth brush to see what that would do.

    Like 0
  17. Carl Eidsness

    I was planning to use warm water, dishwater detergent, and a tooth brush.

    Like 0
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


      A well-used [soft bristles] toothbrush might be ok, but I would keep it away from the edge of the woven fabric. That edge is already under stress from being sewn and folded under when the seat was manufactured. And the cotton sewing thread is also going to be fragile after almost 70 years. I suggest at these edges you use a very soft brush, like those in oil or water color painting.

      In cleaning very delicate car fabrics, I used to whip up the undiluted liquid upholstery cleaner into a foam, then use the foam in a soft brush to carefully clean around the edges, quickly soaking up any liquid and dirt with a clean cotton tee shirt.

      Like 2
  18. Keith

    After all these great comments the seller just uped the price 20k lol.

    Like 0
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


      The seller didn’t up the price, this was an auction, and the various people bidding on the car boosted the price up to the final $19,300 winning bid.

      Like 2

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