EXCLUSIVE: 1952 Kaiser Manhattan Sleeper!

From the outside, this 4-door Kaiser Manhattan looks like any other ’50s family hauler, but under that hood is a bit of a surprise! I’d say that Reader James R’s Kaiser here is one heck of a sleeper, but more on that below. It has been parked in his garage long enough to gather quite a bit of dust and will need a good detailing to look it’s best, or just hit the streets with it dusty and start trolling modern muscle cars. Unfortunately for James, this car needs to go and he’d like to see it go to a Barn Finds Reader!

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! What’s under the hood that would make this 4-door the ultimate sleeper? Well, it’s a 1971 Chevrolet big block 402 that is paired to an R-700 transmission. James made his living as a mechanic and happened to find a 402 that needed a new home and decided a good place for it would be in the Manhatten! Since it’s rated at 300 horsepower and 400 ft-lb. of torque, he decided it had enough power stock so he left it stock. It appears to fit well in the engine bay but is certainly not what you’d expect to find under this hood.

The interior is really the only area that I see needs some work. It’s definitely usable as is, but some new seat upholstery would clean things up a bit. I bet it’s a wild ride on these bouncy bench seats and all that engine up front! James did his best to provide lots of interior photos, so take a closer look in the gallery below.

I won’t lie, I really like this find! The combination of big block Chevy and big Kaiser 4-door makes it a really unique car that will definitely start up lots of conversations. And I bet the exhaust note is far more impressive than the original inline-six could ever be. So, if you’d love to pull this sleeper out of James’s garage, be sure to contact him via the form below!

  • Asking Price: $18,000 OBO
  • Location: Maple Heights, Ohio
  • Mileage: 43428
  • Title Status: Clean
  • VIN: K5221217600

Contact The Seller

List your car here on Barn Finds for only $50!


  1. Gaspumpchas

    That’s one cool custom. Like the lines and the BBC conversion. Would be a real hit at a car cruise or a stoplight! Good luck to the new owner!

    Like 5
  2. local_sheriff

    It’s been many,many years since I last saw a Kaiser, also a ’52. I find Kaisers kinda weird-looking, but in a very cute way! Normally I’d not be too enthusiastic about ditching a six, but this one really got me on fire! Even seems like the Kaiser engine color on that BBC…?
    Definately a wolf in sheeps clothing that would fool most of us!

    Like 3
  3. Chuck

    Those appear to be period seat covers, which have often been known to conceal showroom-new original upholstery! Might be worthwhile to clean the car, and take it outdoors for some decent photos – it could be a really nice car, but it’s hard to tell.

    Like 1
  4. S Craig MacDonald

    The top line of the windshield is my favorite part of these cars. I wonder why nobody else got creative with that part of a car’s style.

    Like 6
  5. Ken Carney

    Boy, what a rocket ship! Always wondered how these cars might’ve performed if a factory V-8 had been
    offered. James, you really hit it out of
    the park with this one–and the damned
    ball’s still flying! Bet she’s good for 140
    MPH at least. Sorry man, I like your car,
    but can’t afford your price right now. Good luck with your sale! You won’t have it long, someone out there will buy and
    drive it with a huuuge smile on their face.
    Time to wipe the drool off my chin and
    keyboard though.

    Like 4
  6. Coventrycat

    Looks good, and you wouldn’t need to hunt down oddball drivetrain parts. Love seeing the occasional Kaiser pop up here.

    Like 3
  7. luke arnott

    Hope the brakes have been upgraded!

    Like 3
  8. Ted

    Anyone remember the guy who turned a four door Kaiser into a two door a few years ago? Maybe on The HAMB?

    The lines were stunning, wish I could remember where I saw it…..aarghh……

    Like 0
  9. John Ruth

    I have a 4 door 54 with a 327, PS, PB Nova front end. It’s a nice cruiser.

    Like 5
  10. charlie Member

    These were great cars, great fit and finish, windshield popped out in the case of a front end collision, but for the price – that of a Buick – were grossly underpowered. This one is fixed!

    Like 1
    • Duaney

      You probably haven’t drove a Kaiser. Sure a V-8 has more power but the stock Kaiser isn’t a slug. The performance of a Kaiser is better or equal to the Plymouth, Dodge, Pontiac, Chrysler, Chevrolet, Buick with Dynaflow, Ford , Studebaker, all of 1952 with 6 cylinders.

      Like 0
      • KKW

        Show me a 52 Pontiac, Chrysler, or Buick with a 6cyl, and I’ll eat my shorts.

        Like 1
      • local_sheriff

        Dear KKW; while there were no 6cyl offered by Buick in 1952, Pontiac offered the 239 I-6 as base engine, and Chrysler offered the 264,5 I-6 in their Windsor.

        Wanna have salt or pepper – maybe both…?

        Like 4
  11. KKW

    What’s under the hood is no surprise, just the usual disappointment. Just another bastardized classic.

    Like 2
  12. Duaney

    The car might accelerate but if power steering wasn’t adopted it might not be easy to steer with the big block.

    Like 0

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