Gear Head Tuesday – 2 Ultra Rare Frazer Manhattans in the Same Town

Gear Head
Hat Tip_2

Hat tip today to “B-Squared” for providing the WSJ article.

51 Frazer Manhattan Convertibles-a pair 1

A pair of car-lovers who work at Duke University discover they have matching 1951 Frazer Manhattan convertibles.

Re-blogged from the Wall Street Journal story by A.J. Baime.
Photos of the 2 convertibles are also from the Wall Street Journal article with credit to Jeremy Lange. Other images from previous posts on this blog.

Mr. Swanson: When I was in the sixth grade, I found a 19-year-old National Geographic on a dusty shelf at school. I opened it and saw an ad for a 1951 Frazer Manhattan convertible. I just liked this car. I secretly tore out the ad and I have it to this day.

Dr. Crews: I have liked Kaiser-Frazer cars for years. I was interested in the fact that two American industrialists, Henry J. Kaiser and Joe Frazer, had launched arguably the most successful new competition to the Big Three right after World War II. I had a 1953 Kaiser Dragon, but Frazer was the higher-end car of the two brands. I thought that if I ever saw an ad for one, I would try to buy it.

Mr. Swanson: Only 131 Frazer Manhattan convertibles were built in 1951. In 2017, I saw an ad for one for sale in New Mexico. I called the guy and he told me he had already sold the car—to someone in the same town where I live.

Dr. Crews: After I bought my 1951 Frazer, the seller called and said, “I can’t believe it, but someone else in Durham has called me about the car. Do you mind if I give him your number?”

Mr. Swanson: Another 1951 Frazer Manhattan convertible came up for sale in Alabama. I flew down there. I had never seen one in person, only in an advertisement. It was as beautiful as I imagined. I bought the car and later, I called Rex. I had never met him before. I thought: What are the chances that two guys, about the same age, living in the same town, working at the same institution, would own the same rare car? When people see this Frazer, they ask: Is that an American car? Because most have never heard of Kaiser-Frazer.

Dr. Crews: Kaiser-Frazer cars started coming out around 1947. There were two brands: Kaiser and Frazer. Henry J. Kaiser was an industrial magnate—an aluminum manufacturer, and a ship and dam builder. [Mr. Kaiser is arguably most known now as co-founder of Kaiser-Permanente, one of the nation’s largest health-care providers today.] Joe Frazer had the automotive experience. He had worked in the industry.

Mr. Swanson: They pooled their resources, but in 1951 Frazer left the company and the brand disappeared, so our 1951 Frazers were among the last built. If I had to guess, I would say that there are only a dozen 1951 Manhattan convertibles mobile today. Part of the joy of owning this car is keeping the history alive.

Joseph Frazer

Joseph Frazer

More reading:

• Richard Langworth on Kaiser-Frazer

Previous posts on this blog about K-F:

The End of the Frazer

51 Frazer Vagabond (scroll down)


51 Frazer Manhattan Convertible-gr-fr

51 Frazer Manhattan convertible rs

51 Frazer Manhattan convertible-gr-ls

51 Frazer Manhattan convertible-gr-instrument panel

51 Frazer Manhattan convertible - gr- r

51 Frazer Manhattan convertible-wh-ls

51 Frazer Manhattan convertible-wh-fr

51 Frazer Manhattan convertible-wh-hood ornament

51 Frazer Manhattan convertible-wh-rs

Kaiser-Frazer sign


Tesla Cybertruck



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  1. Chris Marshall 26/11/2019 — 12:43

    Excellent mention. My hands became more and more “Sweaty” the farther into the posting I got. If i hadn’t drank the kool-aide and descended into the world of Studebakers, I’d probably be submerged into Kaisers or early Dodge Darts right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for “re-blogging” this. The Frazer Manhattan was the last four-door American convertible until the Lincoln Continental ten years later.

    I don’t know if it was Henry Kaiser or his son Edgar who said this, but one of them said, “Slap a Buick nameplate on it and it would sell like hotcakes.” Either one was probably talking about the Kaiser make, but the same could be said about Frazer.

    Liked by 1 person

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