Henry J. Kaiser

Inducted 2010

In 1945, Henry Kaiser, an industrialist best known as the father of modern American shipbuilding, partnered with veteran automobile executive Joseph Frazer to establish the new Kaiser-Frazer Corporation, from the remnants of Graham-Paige, of which Frazer had been president. Kaiser-Frazer was formed to challenge the established auto manufacturers who had managed to survive the Depression. With no pre-war models to lean on, Kaiser-Frazer had to design its cars from the ground up. There would be two nameplates for virtually identical cars: the popular-priced Kaiser and the upscale Frazer. To speed development and save money, the company settled on a conventional body-on-frame design, with front-engine and rear-wheel-drive, powered by a modified Continental industrial 3.7 liter engine. The 1947 model-year production was underway by June of 1946 – less than a year after the company was formed. It was a seller’s market after the war, and being some of the first, newly designed cars, both made quite an exciting entrance. As the market for their products slowed in 1949 with the introduction of new designs from the Big Three, Kaiser pushed for more production creating an oversupply of cars that took more than a year to sell. At odds with Henry Kaiser, Frazer left the company in 1951. It was renamed Kaiser Motor Corporation and continued building passenger cars until 1955. In that same year, Kaiser bought the ailing Willys-Overland company, and merged the Kaiser and Willys operations together under the name Willys Motors, building only utility vehicles. In 1970, the Kaiser Jeep Corporation, as the company had been renamed in 1963, was sold to American Motors Corporation, which continued to manufacturer Jeep vehicles until AMC itself was purchased by Chrysler in 1987.

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