American Orphan – 1951 Kaiser Manhattan Deluxe

With the recent recession, orphan makes are suddenly no longer an unusual thing on American roads. Before Plymouth in 2001 and Oldsmobile in 2004, the last manufacturer to go dark was American Motors, upon their 1988 acquisition by Chrysler (and yes, that’s ignoring the half-baked Eagle Division of Chrysler). Due to poor sales, seeing one of the independent American brands (Rambler/AMC/Eagle) on the road was fairly rare, but late-model Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, and Mercurys are still fairly common. Before 1988, however, American orphans dated back to the 1950s and 1960s. You can find this 1951 Kaiser Manhattan for sale for $1951 in Everett, WA, just north of Seattle.

1951 Kaiser Manhattan right front

In its current state, it’s not much to look at, especially compared to the original flamboyant paintjobs and styling these had. Nonetheless, there are some interesting details including the raised-eyebrow windshield, thick chrome strip just above the sills, and dip in the beltline along the rear doors. It also looks like they discovered the Hofmeister kink before it was cool (and before Hofmeister knew about it). Kaisers had several innovations, including pop-out windshields, padded dashboards, and recessed controls, and later models also had wrap-around tail lights for better visibility. This car, being a Deluxe, is 1 7/8″ longer than the Special, and makes you wonder, why would one pay extra for less than 2″ of length?

1951 Kaiser Manhattan engine

The engine looks a little crusty, but is said to run very well, with a new carburetor, fuel pump, battery, brakes, and evidently some ignition parts. The brakes still need bleeding – it’s a bit odd to invest that much effort and not finish the job, but lack of time or interest is probably why the car is for sale in the first place! The floors are also said to be solid, and the car comes with two new tires, which is good since one of the fronts looks like it was parked and flat for quite a while. Interestingly, this car is fitted with a 3-speed plus overdrive, which sounds like it might have a manual transmission.

1951 Kaiser Manhattan interior

There’s no shot of the front seat, although you can see there’s a Mexican blanket covering what is likely shredded luxura cloth. There is some water staining of the interior, but for a light colored material that’s 62 years old, that’s not unexpected. Apparently, many parts are still available through clubs and parts houses, so finishing up this fairly complete car may not be so difficult.

1951 Kaiser Manhattan rear

The line of the windshield carries through to the rear window, but otherwise the rear view is fairly plain. The car is also said to be rust-free, and comes with many spare parts and manuals, along with “other paper work”. Since this is a fairly complete car, it looks like the hardest part of this project will be getting the paint back in shape.

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One Response to “American Orphan – 1951 Kaiser Manhattan Deluxe”

  1. steve in podunk Says:

    It’s gone! That looked like it was a very good deal.

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