This Is A $200 Car: 1948 Kaiser Manhattan

front left

The owner of this Kaiser listed here on craigslist is, this once, honest and even modest about the value of his car. He states “This is a $200 car”. It’s been been sitting in barn since 1966. It’s in Petaluma, California, chicken country, so perhaps it was keeping company with chickens. It looks complete and original. Other than promising some rust in the trunk and floors, the seller doesn’t say much about the condition. It’s the last of seven cars to be sold, so it could have either been his favorite he was saving till last or more likely the one showing the least promise.

right front

The body does look pretty solid and complete on the outside (except for the headlight of course) with the expected surface rust. It seems to have all its glass except for the driver’s door, which could be rolled down.

dash

The dash is the only peek we get of the inside of this old car. It doesn’t leave one hopeful of the condition inside beyond the dash. There’s no daylight showing through the trunk floor, but that’s not likely the bottom. There’s likely a rusty spare tire well under there. The engine looks complete except for the air cleaner and there’s some small chance it could be free.

left rear

Do you think there’s any hope for this car? For once, folks will have to find something to say beyond “That’s too much money for that” Perhaps they will say “You’d have to pay me to haul it away”? In any case, the realistic price is a refreshing change from all the overpriced cars we’re seeing lately. It would certainly cost more to restore this than its worth as is usually the case, but could one get this running and driving to have a unique old driver? If I still had a rig to haul this, I’d fetch it and donate it to the museum to sell. Surely they could get more than $200 for it.

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Comments

  1. Robert White

    Rat rod material for sure.

    Bob

  2. ydnar

    I bet the hood ornament is worth $200.00.

  3. Mark E

    Not much market for Kaiser parts, unfortunately. I’d say this is a perfect chance for someone expousing how wonderful patina is to walk the walk. New tires, repaired brakes, maybe a new powerplant. (How about a straight 6 instead of the almighty SBC?) and you’d have a show car with patina that would put others to shame! Especially if you left the interior in ‘as found’ condition! ^o^

  4. Doug M. (West Coast) Member

    Hey, I’ll “see you” a 48 Kaiser, and “raise you” a 48 Kaiser! …this one near me in a field, also in the $2-300 price range! Hate to say it, but I think there is not much demand for something like this!! (this one is complete, but pretty badly rusted).

  5. Jason Houston

    Jesus… how can you go wrong for $200? Petaluma is basically a nice, dry, climate.

  6. RON

    YOU ARE CLOSE TO RIGHT ON THE HOOD ORNAMENT. MAYBE A LITTLE LESS. IAM AN ORPHAN COLLECTOR IN A SMALL WAY, HAVE A 51 FRAZER VAGABOND WHICH IS A LITTLE MORE RARE AND SHEET ETAL WISE NOT A LOT BETTER THE INTERIOR IS BETTER AND IT CRANKED AND RUNS AND THE HYDRAMATIC SHIFTS PERFECT. JUST NEEDS BRAKES TO PUT IT ON THE STREET. I HOPE I MAY GET TO THE POINT OF AN AMETUR STREET DRIVERBEFORE I CROAK AND HAVEACCUMLATED MANY PARTS IN CLUDING COSMETICS AND STILL DON’T HAVE A FORTUNE IN IT. AS FOR BEING WORTH 200 DOLLARS ANY OLD IRON IS WORTH 200 UNLESS SCRAP METAL IS AT LESS THAN 7-8 DOLLARS PER HUNDRED AND IT FLUCTUATES UPWARD TO SOMETIMES 14-15. IF A CAR IS MOSTLY COMPLETE LIKE THESE OLD ONES YOU ARE CLOSE TO 3000# PLUS OR MINUS. AT 3000 THAT IS 210 UP. I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE IT ON MY PROPERTY FOR 200. I HAVE”REFURBISHED” MANY CARS IN THE STATE OF THIS CAR AND SOLD THEM FOR A ROFIT AND SAVED IT AND PUT THEM IN THE HANDS OF LIKE HOBBISTS THAT HAVE THE GOOD SENSE TO KNOW YOU WILL NOT GET RICH BUT OTHERWISE COULD NOT AFFORD AN ENTRY INTO THE HOBBY. that’s THE PROBLEM, THERE IS NO LONGER HOBBIST OUT THERE, PEOPLE SEE SO MUCH BARRET JACKSN AND READ MAGAZINES AND THINK THAT WHEN AN AMETURE REFURBISHMENT IS DONE ON A CAR LIKE THIS IT DOESN’T MEAN IT IS WORTH 40K+ ITM AY NOT BE WORTH BUT 4000., MORE OFTEN EVEN IF YOU ARE SKILLED ENOUGH TO DO THE WORK YOURSELF THE INVESTMENT IS PROBABLY THAT MUCH OR MORE AND THAT IS PUTTING YOUR LABOR AT 0 AND CALLING IT A “HOBBY” MONEY AND INVESTMENTAND WORK CAN RESULT IN WEALTH. BUT AT 70 I HATE T SAY IT BUT THE “MONEY GRUBBERS” HAVE PRETTY WELL DESTROYED THE HOBBY. PRETTY MUCH THE SAME AS HOW OUR COUNTRY HAS BEEN DESTROYED BY THE LIKES OF THE POLITICIANS ANDSAME MONEY CHANGERS. EXCUSE ME FRMY CYCINISM MY FRIENDS BUT A LITTLE MORE OF THE DIRECTION WE ARE IN AND ALL THE OLD CARS WILL BE HAMMERED INTO METEL FOR CHINA AND THE LIKES. THERE ALREADY HAS BEEN REMOVAL OF THE LAST SMELTER F LEAD BEING SENT OVERSEALS. I APPLAUD THE OWNER OF THIS VEHICHLE FOR OFFERING HIS ATA “TRUE VALUE:” IT COULD PROVIDE FOR A VERY ENJOYABLE PIECE OF HISTORYTO BE SAVED AS IS OR PROVIDE A TON OF GOOD PARTS FOR MAKING OF ANOTHER ONE TO PRISTINE CONDITION. IN A SHORT TIME I AM SURE MINE WILL BE AVAILABLE TO OTHER “OPPORTUNISTS” TO PASS ON HOPE SOMEONE GETS THISTO ENJOY COUNTLESS HRS. OF FUN

    • grant

      Why are you yelling?

      • packrat

        ‘Why all caps?’ Because, from his posting, he’s *seventy*. Like me, he knows that the only thing that is yelling, is yelling, and not caps lock. It might save a bit of ache with the arthritis as well. F’r instance, I have an old ex-cop acquaintance of mine who runs a personal protection business in town: It is futile to encourage Buford to not type in all caps like an old-school telegram. (Or spell correctly, or use proper punctuation, both of which have me forever fishing his letters out of the spam filter at work). But he knows his specialty. He did not grow up learning to “keyboard” from third grade on like the kids do in school now, and the boys who don’t know what a timing light is for can often ripple along at 90 wpm even though they can’t string grammatically coherent sentences together in the process. I’m a couple of decades behind him, and the first time we were taught to use a “typewriter”, and an optional class it was at that, was the last year of high school. Hang onto guys like RON, even though they may be unversed in this year’s flavor of netiquette, because they’ve been around long enough to have a stack of good car stories from times past, and sometimes know where the ‘bodies are buried’–where the car bodies are buried in old garages, that is.

    • Bruce E

      There is a little button on the left side of your key board that says “cap lock”. Push that button down…

    • 1969Deuce

      I read past the keyboard difficulties and thought these comments were pretty well-taken. too often i see all lower case and no punctuation posted from ‘fones’

      • Jeff Staff

        Just wait until the millennials get old. All caps, all typos.

    • Fast Fred Member

      I would have to agree with you hobbyist I don’t think so greedy people yes it’s hard to find a lot of honest people everybody thinks they got gold

  7. 1969Deuce

    As for the car, I think I’d need to locate a couple at similar or lower prices in the hopes of putting together one. I suspect that spares might be difficult to source. Considering the model, there’s probably time to do that because demand can’t be high. I agree that the value of a really nice hobby restoration wouldn’t have the market value but there’s a lot to be said for the nice compliments one gets at a show when the ‘before’ pictures are posted beside the finished job.

    If the parts are too difficult to find, I wouldn’t be highly opposed to a really well-done resto-mod that preserves the flavor. That would have been a period-correct fate for many of these when they became orphans in the last century.

    • packrat

      Yes, as for this car, it would be a twelve hundred dollar craigslist post in Hipster City where I am. If this was in my neighborhood for 200, I would seriously contemplate straining my marriage with a ‘drag-home’ project with an eye to ending up with a fun ‘park-it-anywhere’ driver.

  8. Fid

    I don’t know if anyone has pointed it out yet but there were no 1948 Kaiser Manhattans. The first year for the Kaiser Manhattan was 1952. The car pictured is a ’49 or ’50 Frazer Manhattan and the hood ornament that’s on it is off a 1953 Kaiser. A 1949/50 Frazer Manhattan is a rare car to be sure. It would be great if it gets saved.

    • Bill McCoskey

      Thank you Fid for pointing this out. As I was looking at the pics and reading about the car, I came to the same conclusion. And yes, a ’49 Frazer Manhattan is a very rare car. I attended the KFOC National meet in Getttysburg this year, and I don’t recall there being any ’49 Manhattans on display.

    • Gerald Luck

      Yes. You are correct. This is indeed a 49-50 Frazer. Not a Kaiser. After enlarging the photo, I can see clearly the Frazer badge on the hood. The Frazer was more upscale than the Kaiser. And they are rarer then hens teeth. The KFOCI is a excellent resource for parts, etc. Please somebody buy this and save it from the crusher. I too am 70yrs old and a Vietnam vet on fixed income. I would buy this car in a minute if I had somewhere to store it (live in apartment w/ no off street parking available) and I didn’t already have my 64 Chrysler New Yorker Salon (daily driver) that requires all my attention (not to mention a goodly amount of my money) . I love the orphans and I was searching for a K- F product when I found the car I’m driving. I love and admire ALL things K- F. Hence my email user name: kfcarlover. I know and understand the historical significance of this and other orphan cars. This car deserves saving and restoration. If everything were equal and this was a perfect world, l would buy buy this and do a resto- mod w/ modern amenities like a/c, ps, pw, pseats, p disc brake to name just a few. The possibilities are endless. When completed, you wouldn’t have a fortune tied up in it, but what you would have is a car that would turn heads, get attention, applause, rave reviews and awards. After all, you wouldn’t be driving the iconic “average, routine, you see them at every cruise- in 2 door muscle car that everyone else is driving car “. Look Bob, it’s another Corvette/ Mustang/ Camaro/ Cobra/ G-T-O , adinfinitum adnauseum. Oh yeah, I hope I’ve pleased everyone In that I’ve used correct spelling AND punctuation. No, I never took keyboards in school. I just took the time to learn. Practice makes perfect.

  9. Marty Member

    Fans of this fine car will want to check out the Cold War Motors videos on YouTube, if they haven’t already.

  10. Howard A Member

    Um, someone may correct me, but I don’t think this is a Manhattan. I can’t read the script on the fender, but the Manhattan’s I saw on “images” show a much different dash, and had “Manhattan” on the fender, and it looks like a ’49 or ’50 Frazer ( no Kaiser) Anybody? Rare car, either way. Just a lot of work ahead. Probably better parts car, although, these days, there is no such thing as a parts car.

  11. Vince Habel

    It is not a 48. Kaiser. Doug M posted a 48 Kaiser. I too think it is a Fraser. Not sure of the year.

  12. Fid

    Howard A, it is most certainly a ’49 Frazer Manhattan. Not only is the ‘Manhattan’ script visible on the fender flanks but is has the chrome ‘Frazer Manhattan’ bar across the center of the steering wheel (unfortunately it’s badly broken with one side missing). Other indicators are the chrome ‘cap’ on the signal light knob which only Manhattan has and chrome window frames are visible (passenger side of interior picture) which only the Manhattan has. I don’t know which cars you saw pictures of but the ’47 and ’48 Frazer Manhattan has a completely different dash and steering wheel so if you saw one of those, yes, it would be different. As I pointed out earlier, the hood ornament is off a ’53 Kaiser and is not original to the car. Someone commented the ornament was probably worth the $200 – I doubt it. Search ebay for ’53 Kaiser hood ornament and you’ll see they don’t bring that much.

  13. Jeff H

    It’s been awhile, but isn’t this a ’49 Frazer?

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