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Kaiser’s 1951 Auto Show Cars


By 1951, Kaiser sales were in decline. What looked new and different in 1947 had begun to look dated by 1950. They had hoped to introduce a facelifted car that year, but could not get it ready in time. The restyle had wait until 1951. In order to attract as much attention to the sleek, new Dutch Darrin design, four show cars with what were arguably the most flamboyant interior appointments of any car in that flashy decade were rolled out for the 1951 Chicago Auto Show.

  • Kaiser4      Kasier7      Kaiser1
  • South Seas Show Car – 1951 Ad – Swenson Sales in Redwood City, CA

Their Worldways in Motoring exhibit featured the Explorer with polar bear fur seat covers, the Safari done in zebra skin and lion fur, the Caballero, upholstered in palomino and unborn calf hides with western buckles on door-mounted saddlebags and spurs for window cranks and the South Seas as seen in our top and bottom photos. However much attention they might have attracted, the company’s sales peaked at around 31,000 in 1953 but slid steadily downhill after that until passenger car production ceased in 1955. You will find more Kaiser-Frazer posts on The Old Motor. Photos courtesy of Alden Jewell.


10 responses to “Kaiser’s 1951 Auto Show Cars

  1. I don’t think you needed to say that they were “arguably” the most flamboyant interiors. The only thing you could argue is which was the ugliest. The Kaisers were sleek and good looking for their time, it’s a shame they didn’t sell.

  2. The Ypsilanti Auto Museum had the Explorer on display a few years ago. Don’t know if it is still there, or if any of the others survived.

  3. A V-8 engine would have saved the company….for a while…..Being dependent on GM for their automatic trans. hurt them when the Hydra Matic plant burned.

  4. I still remember seeing a 1951 Kaiser Caballero from 60 years ago when I was a kid. This car was presented to
    William “Hop-Along Cassidy” Boyd at the 1952 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, CA. He was the Parade Grand Master and rode his famous horse Topper in the parade.

    Boyd sold the car immediately after the parade at a celebrity auction and donated the money to a boys orphanage. A Texas cattleman ended up buying the car, and he used it in his business. The owner visited our cattle farm in Maryland in 1956, and my dad bought some registered hereford cows from him.

    The car was a beautiful black with spotted cowhide interior. A smaller set of cow horns graced the hood and rear had a continental wheel. The outside door handles were six shooter pistols that you pulled the trigger on to open the doors. The inside had hand-tooled black leather saddle bags trimmed in silver for door armrests . The door handles and window handles were silver spurs. The knobs on the radio and cigarette lighter were spur wheels or rials.
    The trunk was also lined in spotted cowhide, and there was a spotted cowhide covering for the rooftop that snapped on for a landau look.

    The car was the pure image of the character of Hoppy who was still all the rage in 1956 at least with kids like me.

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