HomePick of the DayRarely seen 1949 Kaiser Virginian

Rarely seen 1949 Kaiser Virginian


Kaiser-Frazer Corp., later renamed Kaiser Motors, is little remembered today aside from the innovative but short-lived Kaiser Darrin sports car, the pert Henry J compact that’s most often seen as a custom drag-strip race car, and the occasional Kaiser Manhattan sedan spotted at car shows.

Founded at the close of World War II by Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph W. Frazer, the Michigan-based automaker achieved success early on but struggled against the might of the Big Three, ending production in 1955. Although in a prescient move, Henry Kaiser bought Willys-Overland in 1953 and continued making Jeeps through 1970, when the company was acquired by American Motors.

, Rarely seen 1949 Kaiser Virginian, ClassicCars.com Journal
The Kaiser is dressed up with fender skirts and wide whitewalls

Perhaps most rare of the orphan brand is the Pick of the Day, a 1949 Kaiser Virginian four-door hardtop, essentially a simulated convertible with a vinyl-covered steel roof welded to a production convertible body. This was somewhat forward-looking as it would be quite a few years before Detroit started slapping vinyl roofs on just about anything.

“Only 935 Virginians were believed to be built in 1949,” notes the St. Simons Island, Georgia, dealer advertising the Kaiser on ClassicCars.com. “The $3,000 list price in 1949 was quite an expensive production model for the day.”

, Rarely seen 1949 Kaiser Virginian, ClassicCars.com Journal
The body shows the aerodynamic styling of the era

Painted in a period-correct shade of Indian Ceramic, aka Salmon, with a black vinyl roof, the Virginian sports fog lights and dual spotlights, fender skirts and wide whitewalls. It has fresh black-leather upholstery and a radio, clock and heater, the seller notes.

“The restoration shop that services our collection just went through the car and refurbished her with new paint, a new padded vinyl top, had the front and rear bumpers replated, did a complete brake overhaul, fuel system service, new 8-volt battery, complete new exhaust-system replacement, and added a new set of Goodyear wide-whitewall bias-ply tires, new carpet and engine-bay detail,” the seller says.

, Rarely seen 1949 Kaiser Virginian, ClassicCars.com Journal
The seats have been reupholstered in black leather

The Kaiser is powered by a 110-horsepower straight-6 flathead engine with a three-speed manual transmission with overdrive.

The asking price of $18,900 seems reasonable for what is most-certainly an oddball car in any number of ways (8-volt battery?), and it should appeal to collectors who want to be different. There are also those hobbyists with an abiding affection for the Kaiser brand, which may be gone but not entirely forgotten.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day


Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


  1. FYI: The reason the 8 volt battery in question was substituted for a 6 volt battery is because the starter turns over faster for easier starting when engine is at normal operating temperature. 6 volt batteries tend to be weak spinning the starter over when engines reach normal operating temperatures. The electrical system is still a 6 volt system.

  2. So im honestly new here on this sight, but i am not new by along shot to the classic car ind. really enjoy reading up on anything involving classic cars,trucks,ext. crazy thing is im just 29 years old at the moment and i just recently purchased a old car and found out it was a 1949 Kaiser Virginian 4door im currently restoring it on my own and i have major restoration plans for this car. its my 2nd car that i have ever restored but my 1st that im doing on my own. the car is all there except orional tires,windows,seat cover fabric, a couple door handles. but the engine, transmission, drive-line, rear-end, and orional battery is still there all origional car. i only payed $200.00 for it and i don’t plan on saling it ever.But, i am open to advice on what people want to know about my car and where i should take it to get appraised and if any car shows where and when.


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