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Factory Air Conditioning! 1947 Frazer Manhattan

One output of the Kaiser-Frazer merger in 1946-47 was the Manhattan, a top-of-the-line luxury car that led the Frazer brand. The Frazer name would disappear in the early 1950s and – soon thereafter – the company focused its attention on making Jeeps after acquiring Willys-Overland. This ’47 Manhattan spent the last 30 years in storage and is in good, non-running shape overall. And it has rare factory air conditioning, too! Located in Sussex, New Jersey, the post-war find is available here on eBay for $4,650 or you can make an offer.

Kaiser-Frazer Corp. was the result of a partnership between industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and automobile executive Joseph W. Frazer. Through their combination, the Frazer brand would be their flagship line of upper-medium-priced American luxury automobiles. Frazers (including the Manhattan) were designed by famed stylist Howard “Dutch” Darrin and won the Fashion Academy of New York Gold Medal for design achievement. The high-end Manhattan debuted in early 1947.

Frazer automobiles aren’t a common sight after more than 70 years. At the peak, they represented only 1.5% of the total post-war production when people were scooping up new cars left and right. The seller’s machine was likely a stately-looking machine back in its day. Not much history is revealed about this survivor which managed to log in 87,000 miles before going into hibernation.

We’re told the flathead 6-cylinder turns by hand, so there’s hope for the motor. But the starter is amiss and will need either rebuilding or replacement. As was common in those days, a column-shifted 3-speed manual transmission is present, and you can take it through the gears manually while stationary. The blue paint was reapplied some years ago, has a fair amount of patina today, and rust doesn’t seem to be anything more than a formality on the body. This looks like a solid and rare car to bring back to life!

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Rex Kahrs Member

    So, Russ, what years was the Kaiser Manhattan produced? I’ve never heard of a Frazer Manhattan, only a Kaiser Manhattan.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Russ Dixon Staff

      From what I found online it was a Frazer made by Kaiser-Frazer from 1947-51.

      Like 11
      • Avatar photo Charles Leonard Coker

        no factory air conditioning on this car.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo Doc Gibson

        Hello,. My family gifted me a 1953 Kaiser Manhattan to use to learn how to drive with. I drove that Manhattan until I left High School in 1968. I wish I still had that flat head 6. It was a reliable car and was the easiest car to work on. I was hospitalized in 1969 and when I got out my mother had sold it. I have been trying to forgive her ever sense
        Then.
        I never saw it again. That car is still one of the best I have ever had. I still have dreams about it. It was a big loss,. I turn 73 in a week and I look forward to some sweet dreams.
        Robert Doc Gibson
        robertgibsonhu@gmail.com

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo CCFisher

      The Manhattan was the high-end Frazer until the Frazer was discontinued after 1951. From 1952 until the end, the Manhattan was a Kaiser.

      Like 7
      • Avatar photo 370zpp Member

        So that means that at the end of 1951, these words were spoken; (wait, here it comes) “Frazer has left the building”.

        Like 3
  2. Avatar photo Howard A ( since 2014) Member

    This car was featured last Dec. for a larger sum. To be clear, and a K-F expert may correct me, I don’t think it’s an air conditioner as we know it. It’s merely a fresh air heater, which was new at the time, and did “condition the air”, just not cool it. I can’t find anywhere on any K-F option list, a/c was offered. I don’t see any evidence in the engine compartment, anyone?
    If there ever was a “generic” car, this was it, and I read, people loved them. Simple, cheap( $1800 new) can you imagine, when this was good enough? Snowballs chance in Hades of anything happening to it. Sorry, it’s not 1947 anymore.

    Like 21
    • Avatar photo duaney

      Kaiser _Frazer just used the nomenclature, “Air Conditioner”, for the factory heater.

      Like 8
  3. Avatar photo John Cargill

    My dad bought a blue 1947 Frazer new. There’s a fascinating you tuber who drove a Frazer daily for years look up Cold War Motors.

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo Martin

      He still drives it pretty regularly.

      Like 9
      • Avatar photo Paolo

        He bought another one,

        Like 6
  4. Avatar photo Maggy

    Didn’t they make refrigerators too? Neat car and I like the look of it. I’d pick it up just to tinker with it here and there as long as its solid underneath.Seems like a fair price .

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo duaney

      Crosley made the refrigerators. Frazer also made rototillers.

      Like 7
      • Avatar photo Andrew S Mace Member

        Nash(-Kelvinator) also made refrigerators!

        Like 4
      • Avatar photo maggy

        I was thinking of what andrew said and got mixed up. Crosley I knew as my buddys dad had one in the basement as a beer fridge.

        Like 3
      • Avatar photo MikeH

        I still have a Crosley shelvadoor beer fridge in my shop. The thing is probably 80 years old and just keeps on keep’n on.

        Like 3
    • Avatar photo Pnuts

      Gm made Frigidare, Ford made Philco,

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo JMB#7

      Nash-Kelvinator was the refrigerator. “The Kelvinators” is the name of a bluegrass band

      Like 2
  5. Avatar photo Harry

    My dad had a Frazer, blue, a lot like this one. Like the Frazer I was a post war model so I don’t have many clear memories of it. I do remember him trading it in on a new Kaiser in 1952 or so, Caribbean Coral with some sort of alligator pattern plastic upholstery. We took delivery and a few miles from the dealer smoke started coming out from under the dash when Dad turned the radio on. Back to the dealer we went. Fast. The radio had been miswired. (Friday car maybe?) He dumped it when the company tanked. Went to a Mercury and never looked back.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo bone

      That would have been a Kaiser Dragon , if it had the alligator type upholstery- pretty rare car now !

      Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Art Engel

    I don’t think A/C came out until 1956 in automobiles with the evaporator and fan assy mounted in the trunk.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Andrew McKinnon

      Actually, Packard first offered factory air in 1940. There is a great history of automotive AC here:

      https://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/cold-comfort-history-of-automotive-air-conditioning-part-3-post-world-war-ii/

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo Robert L Roberge

      AC introduced in Packards in 1940.

      Like 13
      • Avatar photo Charles Leonard Coker

        yes, barely beating Cadillac by 2 months.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo Taconix

      Nash had a system in the late 30s, but it was conditioned air. Packard and Cadillac dabbled in air conditioning in the early 40s. The first GM air-conditioned cars were in 1953.

      Like 7
      • Avatar photo Charles Leonard Coker

        well Cadillac was part of GM long before the early 1940s.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo Charles Leonard Coker

      Packard and Cadillac had air conditioning option before WWII, Air Conditioning returned in 1953 in Cadiilacs, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles, 1954 Pontiacs had the first up front – in dash factory air conditioning option, beating 1954 Nash by 6 months. I have transplanted the 1954 Pontiac a/c into my 1953 Pontiac Chieftain Custom Catalina. Charles L. Coker, 1953 & 1954 Pontiac technical advisor, Pontiac Oakliand Club International.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Charles Leonard Coker

      a/c came out in 1940 Packards, Cadillac followed two months later, after WW2 a/c returned in 1953 on Cadillacs, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles.

      Like 0
  7. Avatar photo Billy Miller

    Consider the need/want for an auto after the war, what the other auto makers were offering ’47-51, styling, and the prices, and you will see why these were selling (even a 4 door hardtop). These were referred to as “slab sided”. Frazer ad Kaiser had started out right with a good stylist and mass production. Big mistake making the Henry J instead of a V-8, and a 2 door hardtop. Suer styling that I still find very nice. I still like that of the 54-55 Kaisers.

    Like 6
  8. Avatar photo ramblergarage

    Nash invented the modern type air conditioning system used in all cars today. Kaiser & Fraser never offered air conditioning as far as I know.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo GitterDunn

      That’s right – with the refrigeration expertise from their Kelvinator division, Nash was the first manufacturer to combine the A/C, heater, and ventilation into one integrated system that was universally adopted as the industry standard.

      Like 11
    • Avatar photo Charles Leonard Coker

      well Nash was first with one single control panel for heating, ventilation, and a/c, but 1954 Pontiac was first with factory up front in dash a/c and using a modern electric magnetic clutch on the compressor, Pontiac beat Nash by 6 months.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Charles Leonard Coker

      wrong, 1954 Pontiac was first with modern up front in dash factory a/c, beating 1954 Nash by 6 months, now 1954 Nash was first with one control panel for heater/defroster/ventilation/ and a/c, the 1954 Pontiac factory a/c had separate control panel mounted above the heater/defroster/ventilation control panel.

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo GitterDunn

        Charles, you open by saying I’m “wrong”, then proceed to confirm what I said, i.e. that in ’54, Nashes were the first cars with an integrated HVAC system.

        Like 3
      • Avatar photo Charles Leonard Coker

        the all in one nash control panel is a separate issue, the 1954 Pontiac factory a/c was the first modern a/c system overall.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo GitterDunn

        Close, but no cigar. Pontiac’s A/C was not a fully integrated system: the A/C still operated independently of the heater, and with separate controls and air outlets for each system. Again, Nash’s was the first fully integrated automotive HVAC system, the same system we all use now, almost 70 years later.

        Like 1
  9. Avatar photo jimAND ROSE nashwinter

    we have a 47 and it is in great shape;runs great;all primed and waiting for paint;just trying to decide colors?very heavy car;needfs a gas tank;cant find one;put in a fuel cell for now;cant wait to drive on road;77years old and still playing with cars;

    Like 11
  10. Avatar photo Bob Cianci

    The car is located not in the town of Sussex, but in Franklin Twp, in Sussex County. I’ve seen this car. It’s solid, but needs a full restoration. The owner was asking over $6K for it, and has dropped his price. It’s inside his place of business. He seemed like a nice guy, but the project would have been too much for me to take on.

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo Chris Cornetto

    I knew a fella that had one of these with a super charger on it. Not sure of the year as this was over 30 years ago 52 comes to mind. The car was nice I rode in it a couple of times. Under the hood was a nightmare but he always had it running nice.

    Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Joe Newmark

    My Grandfather had a 1947 in the same color blue! My father would never stop talking about what a great car it was. If my dad was still with us, I would snap that up and give it to him, after getting her running.
    Oh well…

    Like 1

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