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Kaiser On A Roll: 1953 Kaiser Manhattan

1953 Kaiser Manhattan

This rarity is located in Van Nuys, California and is listed for sale here on eBay with an opening bid of $1,000. By 1953, despite having new postwar designs, the Kaiser was starting to show it’s age. But it’s still a clean design for the time and this one seems to have some nice brightwork. I don’t see a lot of rust, either. The engine has been rebuilt, although the brakes are said to need work.  I like the honesty of the flathead inline-six and how straight-forward the interior is. There’s something about the curves at the windshield top, the characteristic side window outline, and the stylized airplane on the hood that set this 50’s classic apart from many other cars. I think I’d enjoy having this one in the garage, and apart from the tattered steering wheel, I don’t think I’d change much. Anyone here familiar with Kaisers or Frazers?


  1. kenzo

    And it’s a 2 door. Don’t know what the production run was but I haven’t seen very many 2 doors. The tattered steering wheel is one of those lace on covers that were popular in the 70’s for those who couldn’t afford leather.

  2. Paul in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    love the shapes, especially the front windshield, with the same shape on the rear window. Shame about the broken front windshield, wonder where you obtain a replacement?

    • Tirefriar

      I believe the windshield could be a deal breaker

    • Ed P

      The Kaiser Frazier club had replacements available for $375. However, this was several years ago. They have a website ( More info would be found there.

  3. RickyM

    I don’t know this marque but do like the look of this car. A nice find. That is why I love Barn Finds – for the new cars I discover info about and all the contributors’ vast knowledge. (Being in England not mant US cars make it our way) Thanks Guys!

  4. Jose

    Is this car for real? Add says it’s running but did not see cover on carburetor. Also says engine has been rebuilt but picture does not particularly reflect that claim. Additionally, Tirefriar states that he thinks the broken windshield is a “deal breaker.” Are these that hard to find? Can they be re-manufactured, or is that prohibitive. Add says the car is running but needs break work. Now, what the devil does that mean? Can it be driven or not? Interested but skeptic.

    • kenzo

      it means that it goes well but doesn’t stop well unless there is a solid object in front of it to stop it.
      The rebuild could be a few years old and when done they may have just done main internals, rings, bearings & the head. without renewing the water pump and dressing /cleaning up the manifolds and other exterior components. And yes i wonder where the air cleaner is?

  5. RayT Member

    Having owned Kaisers — three of ’em! — when I was younger, I’d love to take this home and get it in order. They are simple, use a lot of parts from other manufacturers (brakes, as I recall, are Mercury, the trans. is a GM four-speed Hydra-Matic, and the engine is a Continental, for which bearings, gaskets and internals are also found on Case tractors), and mine never, ever failed. They’re comfortable, nice-handling cruisers, too.

    Not so sure about trim and items like lenses, etc. In the early 1980s I was able to find them, as some enthusiasts had brought in parts from Kaiser production in Argentina, but I’m sure the club can point people to sources today if any still exist.

    I would think this would be no worse to restore and maintain than any other “orphan” make from that period. I’m biased, but would choose one over any of its rivals back in the day.

  6. John

    My Dad looked at every Kaiser that he saw. He wanted a new one in the early 50s but bought a Hudson instead because we needed the room (5 of us).

    For years afterward he used to tell me that the Kaiser was indestructible and that I should buy one when I got older.

    This one would be tempting.

  7. Dan Strayer

    2-doors are MUCH harder to find than 4-doors! The VERY rarest 2-doors are the coupes. This is a 2-door sedan.

  8. fred

    Happen to have one in my garage. Good price on this one if the ad is halfway true. Most parts are not hard to find, as the K-F club was started early on and the organizers started buying up parts inventories from closed dealerships for the benefit of the members.

  9. Ian

    What a great car ! Almost worth buying for the windscreen and esp that headlight detail ! Much as I like unrestored car thing this would look amazing fully restored and as has been pointed out already-2 doors are much rarer. Lovely !

  10. Brad

    Mickey Mouse, your car is ready. Love this.

  11. Jose

    Is this thing still available? Where?

  12. Dan Brovall

    I have found one Kaiser 11952 door traveler her in Sweden, and it was for sale so i bught it just for the absolut stuning looks and designe .I Think its quite rare as a 2door traveler

  13. Kenneth Moore

    I had a 1953 Kaiser Manhattan when I was a teenager.
    They were prone to overheating.
    Experienced Kaiser owners would carry a gallon of water in the trunk to pour over the gas pump when it was hot enough to cause vapor lock.

  14. Jose Cantu

    How well I too remember vapor lock. My kids were little, and we’ve have to pull over to the side of the road, lift up the hood, and wait for the engine to cool. Mind you, I still really like the ’53 Kaiser two-door, and if I could find one reasonably priced would surely be tempted to buy it. I loved their cool shaped windshields, their sleek design, and their unique styling, but vapor lock was a real thing.

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