Cross Country Restomod: 1951 Kaiser Deluxe

Restomods are always met with varying views and opinions, but I feel that a restomod is not always a bad thing, as some may feel. Rare, or hard to find parts, can turn a car from a driver into a lawn ornament.  Although that may not entirely have been the case with this 1951 Kaiser Deluxe. The owner began with a “clean survivor” and was clearly looking to build a classic, with some modern amenities. Built nicely, with a classic exterior, and a modern drivetrain, this beauty has also been driven across the country for the Hot Rod Power Tour! With a great deal invested, this Kaiser is offered for $20,000. Find it here on craigslist out of Denver, Colorado.

Here lies the answer to your question. The drivetrain is a Chevrolet LT-1 V8 coupled to a 4L60E automatic transmission. This engine combination is reliable, and nets fair gas mileage, with an obvious bump in power over the stock engine. Neatly nestled in the nose of the Kaiser, this drivetrain choice looks simple enough to service, and there is no evidence of the engine from the exterior of the car. Taking a closer look in the engine bay you can see some various air conditioning components, leading me to believe this car is equipped with air conditioning. An awesome feature for a classic. There is some detail offered in the for sale ad, but looking at this car you can imagine there is a laundry list of information of what has been done to this Kaiser. The front suspension is from a Nova, and the rear axle was pulled from the primary donor car which appears to have been a 1991-1996 Caprice.

We have all seen a classic with a modern interior that was just “too much” or didn’t have the fine detail work that this interior has. I am not completely condoning this interior, but in my opinion this interior is nicely executed. Loaded with many modern amenities, this looks like one comfy classic. The salmon like color is different, but pairs well with the ox blood paint. I particularly like the door panels as they have a classic ambience, but are modern and useful with the arm rest, and door pull. It is quite clear that a great deal of time, and thought, was put into making this interior work with modern components, but to also retain a vintage feel.

From the outside, no one would be the wiser to this Kaisers wolf in sheep’s clothing routine. Fabulously shiny, in every way, this Kaiser is gorgeous. You can forget about any rust concerns, or even paint issues for that matter. This car has received the “full” treatment in its restomod make over. I think this Kaiser deluxe was a great choice, as the styling is subtle, yet strong, with the peaked front and rear windows, and the “wrap around” bumper look. I admire the execution of this Kaiser, as many of us dream of a classic with some modern updates. Would you take a cross country trip in this Kaiser Deluxe restomod?

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Comments

  1. Pete

    Certainly. Its a beautiful work. Tastefully done.

  2. daniel

    It’s a bastardization of a classic fine car.

  3. Andy

    I was on board until I saw the interior.

  4. packrat

    >We have all seen a classic with a modern interior that was just “too much”

    …Yeah. I’m not ‘Kaiser Lives Matter’ -Level against it, but yeah.

    Seats look comfy; a lot of expertise went into the interior. That big flat vinyl rectangle in the middle of the steering wheel has an air bag in it, I feel sure–and if someone has hung a sensor correctly in the front of the car, it is a plausible upgrade for safety. But yeah.

    OTOH, I heartily endorse the heretical addition of an ice-cold technological anachronism such as a modern air conditioner. (I just went through a 78 degree day yesterday in the middle of February, breaking a local high temp record from the 1890’s.) If you’re gonna do that, you don’t want to tack that compressor onto some seventy year old flathead with an original six volt electrical system.

    And if your goal is to drive it 450 miles every other weekend, the bolstered seats and police / taxi drivetrain are welcome additions.

    At that point, I might just save a lot of currency and drive the original Caprice.

  5. Coventrycat

    Done well, I really like it. If it keeps one more on the road I’m all for it, even though I prefer stock if possible.

  6. Howard A Member

    While no doubt, someone completely transformed this car (in a cost, no object manner) and appears they used it, which is totally cool. The modern drive train is one thing, but the interior is too modernized. It’s lost it’s 50’s Kaiser charm. Certain older cars, due to their 1950’s standards, benefit greatly from updates like this, but the stock Kaiser was a heck of a road car, and I really don’t care for this one. This was the beautiful dash they tore out.
    http://topclassiccarsforsale.com/uploads/photoalbum/1951-kaiser-frazer-deluxe-sedan-nice-original-car-5.JPG

    • daniel

      I certainly prefer the classic original interior to the 1990s Cadillac interior

  7. John D

    When I went to the Street Rod Nationals in 1973, most were just hot rods but you did start seeing the first blush of the comfort cruiser rods. The cammed up 440 in a T-Bucket idling loudly still sticks with me though. The Detroit warehouse find 41 Plymouth 2 door with modern mags, a fresh mint green paint job with less than 1000 miles had my buddy and I counting our money. The owner wanted to sell it because it would not keep up the Fords and their SBCs and spun a main bearing on the drive from Michigan to Tulsa. It spent most of the time there with its oil pan off.

  8. 4-Doors-for-my-Tuba

    Around 1958, when I was about six, my grandparents had a Kaiser-Frazier. It got into a small fender bender, so off to the repair shop. NINE MONTHS LATER the repair shop was still unable to find replacement sheet metal. It sat out front of the auto body shop for all to see for months on end. And see it, we did. Every time we passed the shop on the main drag, there it was… waiting. Eventually the car was totaled by the insurance company even though it ran great. Yeah, when parts are rare to unobtainium a restomod is a good idea.

    • Fred W.

      The body shop didn’t try to find parts. There were plenty of parts around and still are, but no internet to locate them. The K-F club formed around that time , bought up most of the dealer parts stock and provided them to members for years afterward. I owned one of these a couple of years ago, frame on restored, and regret selling it. The old codger I sold it to pulled it under a shed where it has sat ever since without moving.

  9. JW454

    If you plan to drive the heck out of an old 40’s or 50’s car these “upgrades” may give you greater peace of mind. I mean if you’re 800 miles from home and the Dynamo quits working you’ll be looking for a 15 year old 12 volt alternator not a 65 year old 6 volt generator. It depends what you’re planning to do with it I guess. I prefer bone stock but, it’s not mine.
    I do like the 9C1 logo on the window borrowed from the Intel company logo.

  10. bill

    I can see it now. this car breaks down so they go to the local pep boys.. “I need a thermostat” guy at the pep boys says ok, what kind of car ? “1951 Kaiser deluxe”
    hands him the wrong one… “but it has an LT1 chevy engine in it. ok what kind of car did it come from? I will need a VIN #….

    • JW454

      Bill,

      I’m thinking if you owned it you would know what to tell a counter person to get the part you needed.

      • Gary

        JW454,

        I have already been to the local Pep Boys and they could not sell me a set of (my choice) spark plugs for my 65 Chevelle because in their look up it showed a different set. This does happen from time to time, especially in the big box chain stores. I believe that’s what Bill was referring to.

    • My Stude is older than me

      Pep Boys really irritated me the last time I bought something there (15 years ago). I asked for a 24F battery, which I could see behind the counter. They asked year/make/model and they couldn’t deal with “Studebaker”. It took the manager to find me a way to buy that battery. Never went back.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi My, I hear ya’. The “auto parts” store is a far cry from what it used to be. It’s an incredibly frustrating place for folks like us that know what they want. Used to be, the “old man” behind the counter knew what you wanted, and in 5 minutes, you’d be on your way.. Today, you have someone that is there strictly for the money, and probably never heard of a Studebaker. Help is almost impossible to find, and EVERY auto parts store I go to, has a “help wanted” sign. And remember, how the “old man” put the phone callers on hold, and took care of you 1st?

  11. Chuck Cobb

    When you build a project such as this, you should document ALL parts that go into the car, what they originally came on, any specialty part numbers, especially IF you think the car might eventually get sold. Courtesy to the buyer. I’m doing that with my 38 Plymouth street rod. Tooooooo many parts, tooooo old to remember them all, ALL documented.

    • bill

      precisely why I would never buy something like this.

  12. Glenn from Wisconsin

    ………Yet there are fools who’s human hand and brain, destroy what time will never give again!

  13. Duaney

    Just in case any serious buyers are reviewing the comments, I’ll add that the paint job is spectacular, and the craftsmanship of the car is excellent. I’ve seen the car in person, and it’s beautiful.

  14. G.P. Member

    If you go to a parts store and say, I need a set of wiper blades for my 2001 Chevy 1500 truck, and they ask- Is it 2 wheel drive or 4 wheel drive? JUST TURN AROUND AND LEAVE.

    • bill

      does it have air conditioning?

      • packrat

        YES. Next question on the pad at Advanced Auto Parts and all the others that use that software. You might have a sympathetic man if he autofills some of those irrelevant questions for you. Please Lord Please, let me find the parts store that still keeps paper applications manuals in that old school, three-foot-long, permanently angled steel three ring binder in the center of the counter.

    • Howard A Member

      HA! Good one, G.P.

  15. Fred W.

    There’s a NAPA store in my town that may not have the three ring binder, but otherwise is very old school. Tell the guy what you want and often he can walk back and grab it off the shelf.

  16. Brad C

    The main thing I want from a restomod is a stock exterior appearance: stance, wheel size, and the glass CANNOT have dark tinting (hate that!!)

    The interior looks way more comfortable for long rides than the original. I’d be proud to own this, LT1 and all. However, I would be tempted to get an original steering wheel back in there.

  17. Adam T45 Staff

    I think that the only thing missing from the exterior would be a set of white-walls.

    I appreciate the sheer amount of work that has gone into the interior, but there are a couple of things that would bother me, and both revolve around the steering wheel. Firstly, unless the owner has successfully fitted a working air-bag, the wheel would have to go. I think that it spoils the interior.

    The second thing that bothers me is something far more practical: I have spent the day looking at the pics, then walking away, and then looking again, walking away, etc. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but the relationship between the steering wheel, pedals and seat just looks wrong. The wheel looks like it is too far away from the seat in relationship to the pedals. It could just be the angle of the pics. If it isn’t an illusion, then to get the seat into a position where the steering wheel is right would leave the driver’s legs quite cramped.

    Is it just me on this one? What do others think?

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Adam, all day, you say? Things a little slow “down under”? ( isn’t it summer there?) :)

      • Adam T45 Staff

        Yes my friend, it is definitely Summer. But it was also a Sunday after a big night at the speedway, so I was feeling quite “sedate” shall we say. The interior of this car confuses me a bit because the colour is slightly different in each picture. However, it is the relationship between the steering wheel, pedals and seat that keeps bothering me. It just looks like the wheel is too far away from the seat, and that if you were to move the seat forward to get your arms right on the wheel, then your legs would be really squashed in the footwell.

  18. Wayne

    Love the interior, but not the colour. I think the body shape is something only a mother could love.

  19. Jeffro

    I want to know more about yellow Mustang in background.

  20. Rex Kahrs Member

    If I saw this at a cruise-in, I’d walk right past it, like I do with PT Cruisers and post-73 Corvettes.

  21. Jerry

    Outside I love it. Inside it ruins the car. Surely they could have put in air and a couple of extra gauges and left the rest alone. Would I buy the car as it is? Yes. But I would usually wish that the interior was original.

  22. Brad

    I agree with Howard A. regarding the interior. At first glance, I thought the “mod” interior was nice; much more comfortable than what could have been the original. That was, until I clicked on his provided link of what an original interior looks like. The “mod” interior, while nice for what it is, certainly does not hold a candle to the detail and beautiful design of the original. I’m not a big fan of “resto mod” cars. I can see, perhaps, upgrading the suspension, brakes, steering, and adding vintage A/C, but to completely change the original design isn’t my cup of tea.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Brad, the interior here looks too “puffy”, and while it is obviously safer, than a steel dash, the Kaiser was one of the 1st cars to have a padded dash.( and a “pop out” windshield)

  23. Mark S

    Hopefully along with that modern steering there is a modern steering column with a collapsible steering shaft. I’ll bet that if you were to look at old accident stats you would find that a lot of drivers were killed when in front end collisions just from the steering wheel coming up into your chest and face with all the force of the crash. I’d bet that there were more then a few people that had there heads drill into the Roof of the car. Anyway I say keep the modern wheel at this point and make sure all the safety features are working correctly. As for the car if your the kind of person likes to get out and drive your classic car then a resto mod is the way to go. Why not have a comfortable interior. To me a restomod is the best of both worlds you have a reliable driver with a classic look. Maybe when they rebuilt this car there was no engine or interior.

    • Ed P

      Mark S: There were many deaths and injuries from steering columns. They would push inward toward the driver.

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