Supercharged Project: 1954 Kaiser Manhattan

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One of the more interesting cars of the 1950s was the Kaiser Manhattan. It was the top-of-the-line product to emerge from Kaiser-Frazer Corp., first badged as a Frazer and later as a Kaiser. It could be ordered with a supercharger to boost the power from its 226 cubic inch inline-6. From the surroundings in the seller’s photos, this one looks to have been sitting for a while, yet it runs around the lot but without the blower for the supercharger.

Kaiser-Frazer struggled to survive in the years following World War II. One of the founders (Joseph Frazer) left the company and they joined forces with Willys to become Kaiser-Willys Corp. in 1953. The Manhattan was only around for four years (1951 to 1954) and carried styling that was a departure from some of the non-descript post-war autos that came out of Detroit. The Manhattan saw production of about 4,100 units in its last year and with the supercharger, horsepower jumped from 110 to 140.

Not a lot is shared about the seller’s car and the listing is a year old, so the car may have sold and the seller neglected to take down the listing here on Facebook Marketplace. The mileage is said to be a mere 46,500 and the two-tone vehicle also has an automatic transmission. It’s been tweaked enough to “lot drive” without the blower. How difficult it will be to replace that item is unknown.

The body, paint, and chrome look to at least be in fair condition. And the interior may be passable, though it could use a thorough cleaning, at a minimum. If the car is still available in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, would you be up for restoring a rare automobile such as this, and at the asking price of $5,000? And we’d be remiss not to thank Barn Finder “Ted” for this tip.

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  1. HoA HoAMember

    Nobody on the Kaiser? See? We’re losing ground here, as fantastic cars like this, barely get any recognition these here days. Like the Nash, in the 50s, auto design was a wide open door, as evidenced, anything was fair game. Kaiser never had the zing of a Nash, while a V8 would have helped, it was pretty clear, Kaiser, as a car maker, its days were numbered. I see what was done here, the removal of the “puffer” was a typical thing. Under that box, I believe was a standard 2 barrel Carter carb, and once the supercharger stuck, many simply removed it.
    A great find, and again, like the Nash, the automatic greatly increases the sales pool. Of the few car shows I have attended, cars like this almost never are featured. Even if they were, interest is waning. I remember car shows, with rows of cars like this, all replaced by Mustangs, Chevelles and what not. However, if you have the guts, I couldn’t think of a neater car to show up in, than this.

    Like 14
    • ChingaTrailer

      I remember 30 – 40 years ago, even then if you owned a Kaiser you were a little “different,” likely to go on about how too far ahead of their time Kaiser was and then it would lapse into Tucker-like conspiracy theories . . . Who knows, maybe there was some truth there, but Henry J Kaiser was quite a power in his own right. As I recall, I only knew one guy with just one Kaiser, a beautiful supercharged car the same color as this with “alligator” upholstery. Restored (or maybe preserved) to perfection. Everyone one else I knew had a whole yard full of them, this was of course, pre HOA days.

      Like 0
  2. Gary

    Styling and ergonomics were WAY ahead of everyone else. My Parents moved from Pgh to LA in one of these. I think a V8 would’ve saved them.

    Like 6
  3. KurtMember

    Another unique car like the Nash above. And this looks good too, also a great price.

    Like 5
  4. George Mattar

    You won’t see another one at cars and coffee. If I see one more Mustang I’m gonna puke.

    Like 5
  5. CarbobMember

    Just like the Nash in today’s BF this would be another member of my orphan fantasy garage. I’m guessing that if you looked long and hard enough; you might find the necessary parts to get the supercharger operating again. I found that one of the most interesting aspects of the old car hobby is the hunt for hard to find parts. GLWTS.

    Like 3
  6. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    Well what do you know? A car nobody wants with interest waning gets snapped up in no time flat.

    Like 2
    • HoA HoAMember

      Rex, I’m happy to be proven wrong in that regard.

      Like 0

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