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.
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.”
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.
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