Friday Fright

Another disturbing dream…I was attending a gathering that seemed to be part business and part leisure. This event required staying on the grounds at least one night.

As I got ready for bed I suddenly became aware of the presence of a large wolf in my room. I climbed onto the highest table in the room in order to fend off any potential attack. The wolf was able to leave the room and return through a door on the other side from where I had entered. The wolf would jump to try to bite/attack, but each time I was just able to avoid it. At some point in the dream I began to scream for real and my wonderful wife woke me up. Unfortunately, even though I was able to return to sleep, I still have the memory of this dream.

All I can write is WTF?!

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I haven’t forgotten about In Or Out? I have two submissions from readers that I will use in the near future with the proviso that if the first car fails to receive at least five votes, then the feature will be discontinued. This blog will be better if it’s more interactive and given the surge in views/visitors since the beginning of April, the audience is there for more interaction.

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The famous AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Hershey, Pennsylvania swap meet has been cancelled for this year. Under the three-tier guidelines set forth by Pennsylvania’s Governor, gatherings of more than 25 people are currently prohibited in Dauphin County, which includes Hershey and which is now in the yellow tier. Even the green tier, the most lenient and open level of the reopening system, would allow gatherings of no more than 250 people. The Hershey swap meet regularly attracts an estimated 200,000 people to the region every year throughout the Fall Meet week.

Ironically for me, the size of the meet has been a large obstacle to my attending it. When it returns (hopefully) next year, I will no longer be within driving distance.

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On this day in 1946 the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation began producing cars at the famous Willow Run assembly plant that had been built by Ford for the mass production of heavy aircraft, particularly the B-24 Liberator (the “B” in B-24 means the plane was a bomber). Formed from the leftovers of the Graham-Paige automobile company, Kaiser-Frazer made inroads in the automobile market at first achieving a 4%+ market share for model years 1947 and 1948. The new Frazer was awarded the Fashion Academy of New York Gold Medal for design achievement.

Unwilling and/or unable to keep with innovations like a V-8 engine, convertibles—although the rare Frazer Manhattan of 1949-51 was the last four-door convertible made in the US until the new Lincoln Continental of 1961, the company didn’t really focus on ragtops—hardtop coupes with no visible B pillar or station wagons, the company’s market share faded to 2% in 1949 and despite a dramatic restyle for model year 1951 and the discontinuation of the Frazer make after 1951 to concentrate on Kaiser, the company stopped making cars in the US after 1955 after losses approaching $100 million.

As I have written here before, although I don’t know if it was company co-founder Henry Kaiser or his son Edgar who made the remark, one of them said, “Slap a Buick nameplate on it and it would sell like hotcakes.” From Hagerty Insurance a picture of a 1947 Frazer Manhattan:

 

See the source image

 

From my picture of part of our garage wall (one of the pictures that appears on the header of this blog) note the reproduction Kaiser-Frazer service sign.

 

 

I would love to see another company besides Tesla try to compete with The Big Three, but that’s a pipedream.

 

#FridayFright

#NoHersheySwapMeet

#Kaiser-Frazer

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Birthday Day

Happy Birthday to my wonderful wife! Happy Birthday to my sweet sister!

As my birthday was two days ago and it was a “milestone” birthday, and given the other family birthdays, today was supposed to be the day for a birthday bash with a few friends and family. My longtime friends Dr. Zal, Dr. Hoss and Cutch were all supposed to attend, all of whom also have March birthdays. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. The exigencies of life intrude as they often do.

For someone with depression and OCD, this coronavirus situation is especially difficult. As someone who has almost always resisted doing what other people tell him he should do, I am chafing to the point of mental rash.

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On this day in 1941 construction began on the Ford Motor Company’s Willow Run manufacturing plant. Make no mistake, the plant was built to help with the Allies’ World War II efforts by building aircraft, even though the beginning of construction was roughly eight months before Pearl Harbor.

Henry Ford, friend of the Nazis and so-called pacifist, was a reluctant conscript. Ford built the plant and then sold it to the government, leasing it back for the remainder of the war. When the war ended, Ford declined to purchase the plant and new carmaker Kaiser-Frazer took ownership. Ironically, General Motors purchased the plant in 1953 and operated it as Willow Run Transmission until 2010.

By the end of 1942, Willow Run had only produced 56 B-24 Liberator bombers and the plant had been saddled with the nickname “Willit Run?” However, by the middle of 1944 the plant was completing a plane every 63 minutes! In total, more than 18,000 B-24s were built. The B-24 was surpassed in capability by more modern bombers such as the B-29 Superfortress and was quickly phased out of service by the US.

I am citing this day as the beginning of construction based on two sources. The Wikipedia article about Willow Run names April 18, 1941 as the day ground was broken on construction. From that article a picture of a B-24:

 

Maxwell B-24.jpg

 

Here is a picture of Hemmings’ Find Of The Day from February 18, 2017, a 1947 Kaiser Special:

 

See the source image

 

#BirthdayDay

#WillowRun

#B-24Liberator

#Kaiser-Frazer

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Thank Goodness For Mecum/Sunday Kaiser: September, 2019

I am grateful for the quantity and quality of Mecum auction broadcasts. Last night another of my many physical “crises” kept me awake from midnight until about 4 AM. When the acute phase of the crisis passed I needed something to calm me down. I had two new Mecum broadcasts from the recently concluded auction in Dallas recorded so I watched the shorter one. Words are really inadequate to describe how much I enjoy watching those telecasts. Thanks to Mecum, to NBCSN and to both crews.

 

Mecum Auctions

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This article on allpar.com by Kelsey Wright is the best I’ve ever read on Kaiser automobiles. This passage was particularly interesting:

 

“Jack Mueller wrote, ‘The Kaiser body shell for the 1949-50 model run was, in four-door sedan form, the same basic shell as 1947-48; overall length changes reflect [the revised] design of front and rear bumpers and bumper guards to get a couple of inches here, a couple there, that sort of thing. The problem was that, in 1949, most other car companies either rolled out a new body platform for the model year (Big Three and Nash), or a good facelift of a recently released design. Additionally, Kaiser-Frazer had too many smaller dealers that could not or would not start selling the way the Big Three stores started doing that year. [Another] big problem is that Frazer turned in his resignation as president at the end of 1948. Frazer saw that the information from dealers showing 60,000 orders in hand, as of October 10, 1948, were made up of mostly bogus orders. That story is almost a chapter in itself.'”

 

The first car from the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation was for model year 1947. Henry Kaiser was so successful at building ships that many call him the father of modern American shipbuilding. Joseph Frazer was a long-time “operative” in the automobile business, beginning as a mechanic’s assistant in his brother’s Packard dealership and then working his way up the sales/management ladder at many companies until getting into business with Henry Kaiser. (That’s decades worth of story in two sentences. Indulge me.)

At first, Kaiser-Frazer was successful as the Big Three automakers used the postwar sellers market as a way to sell warmed-over pre-war cars. Kaiser-Frazer had a market share of more than four percent for model years 1947 and 1948. Ultimately, their inability and/or unwillingness to “get with the program” in terms of styling and engineering led to their demise in the US in 1955. Henry Kaiser is supposed to have remarked, “Slap a Buick nameplate on it and it would sell like hotcakes.”

 

See the source image

 

Speaking of Mecum here is a picture of a 1951 Kaiser Deluxe Sedan (yes, a 2-door sedan; I don’t want to open that can of worms) offered at their Kansas City auction in 2013. With input from noted car designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin these cars are appealing aesthetically, in my opinion. About 11,000 of these were built in model year 1951; total Kaiser production for that year was just shy of 140,000. All cars from Kaiser for 1951 (the Frazer part of the business ceased after model year 1951) were sold with the same engine: an L-head, inline six-cylinder motor of 226 cubic-inch displacement that produced 115 HP/190 LB-FT of torque.

The company, either as Kaiser-Frazer, just Kaiser or Kaiser-Willys (Kaiser purchased Willys-Overland in 1954) never offered hardtop coupes or sedans (cars without a visible B-pillar, a style introduced by GM in the late 1940s that proved to be quite popular), convertibles, station wagons or a V-8 engine. All of these types of cars became very popular in the early 1950s, but Kaiser did not have money for development and marketing.

Maybe Henry Kaiser’s lament about branding was partly true, but in a rapidly changing market his company’s inability to change with the times was their biggest problem. For the nth plus nth time I will opine that fewer companies making cars means fewer sources of innovation for styling and for engineering. The automobile as we have known it is not dead, yet.

 

#MecumAutoAuctions

#KaiserFrazer

#1951KaiserDeluxe

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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