Photos show production of Kaiser-Frazer prototypes in 1946

(January 29, 2020) The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation (1946–1951) was the result of a partnership between automobile executive Joseph W. Frazer and industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. In 1947, the company acquired the automotive assets of Graham-Paige, of which Frazer had become president near the end of World War II.

Kaiser-Frazer was the only new U.S. automaker to achieve success after World War II, if only for a few years. When Frazer left in 1951, the company renamed itself the Kaiser Motors Corporation and continued until 1955.

Kaiser was a man who did not take the easy path in any of his many business ventures — he thought big and built “Liberty” ships at seven Kaiser shipyards during and after World War II. Earlier the industrialist was the principal contractor of the Hoover Dam and also formed the Kaiser Steel and Kaiser Aluminum companies and other ventures.

The front-wheel-drive Kaiser prototype built at the nearly-empty Willow Run Plant in Michigan featured unibody construction and front and rear torsion bar suspension. And the conventionally designed Frazer rear-wheel-drive sedan went into production, and sales began in 1947.

The images dated by the source to May1946 were taken at the end of construction of the prototype rear-wheel drive Frazer “test mule” chassis and while the coachwork for one of the two pre-production automobiles was built. Later in 1946, the pair of machines were displayed at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.

These photos show the early activities at the Willow Run Plant, were the Kaiser-Frazier was constructed. It was a surplus defense plant situated in the Michigan town it was named after. The building was built initially for the construction of World War II aircraft by the Ford Motor Company.

In 1947, the first year of full production, there were 70,474 Kaisers and 68,775 Fraziers sold.

Photos courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library.
Source: The Old Motor