Debatable Detail: 1953 Kaiser Manhattan 22.5K Miles – SOLD!

by | Jan 2022 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Free For All Friday

February 3, 2022 Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Applying the term “Survivor” to a classic car is a slippery slope. While a car may have extremely low mileage, depending on what has been replaced over the years to keep it roadworthy decides whether the term can be applied.  One example is this 1953 Kaiser Manhattan Sedan originally listed in January 2022 on Craigslist in Sanford, Florida. While it only has a reported 22.5K original miles, a replaced floor pan, new headliner, and a recovered back seat among many other parts have us classifying this Kaiser as simply a low mileage preserved example.

Currently offered for $11,500, comparing this price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms this private seller has his Kaiser priced between the #3 “Good” appraisal of $16,300 and the #4 “Fair” estimate of $6,300.  For a second data point, the Collector Car Market Review Online Tool indicates this Kaiser is currently priced between that guide’s #3 “Good” appraisal of $9,300 and the #2 “Very Good” estimate of $15,200.

In their Valuation, Hagerty Insurance provides a nice summary of the ’51-’54 Kaiser Manhattan:

In 1951, Frazer debuted a new design that would continue until the company’s end of U.S. passenger car production in 1955. Designed by Howard “Dutch” Darrin, the cars were longer, lower, and swoopier. The top-of-the-line Manhattan cost just over $3,000, and fewer than 300 were produced in all.

The Frazer Manhattan was available as either a four-door sedan or a four-door convertible and carried a look that was not shared with sister Kaiser models. The sedan resembled a convertible with the top up as it had minor creases at the B- and C-pillars meant to evoke convertible top bows. A 226-cid, 115-hp, six-cylinder engine was used, and the motor was mated to a Hydra-Matic transmission for the first time.

For 1952, the Manhattan name was shifted to the Kaiser nameplate, and the car received a markedly different exterior that was consistent with the rest of the brand. Most notably, a pronounced dip adorned the center of the windshield and rear glass, and the grille had a simple top bar that curved around the front fenders. For this model year, body style choices were greatly revised, as the convertible model was removed, a club coupe and a two-door sedan were added, and Traveler configurations could be ordered. List prices dropped considerably, and production numbers were much higher.

The 1953 model year was mostly the same, though the Manhattan could be ordered with “Bambu” interior, and body choices were limited to a two-door club sedan, and four-door sedan, and a Traveler sedan. For 1954, Darrin redesigned the Manhattan’s grille in a new “jet air-scoop” design, supposedly borrowed from the Buick XP-300 show car. More importantly, a McCulloch supercharger became standard on the Manhattan’s old flathead six, which boosted output to 140 hp. Even so, sales dropped to 4,325 Manhattans.

By 1955, it was all over. Only 1,231 supercharged Manhattans were built that year, with 1,021 being sent to Argentina. The tooling was sent down to Buenos Aires and the Kaiser Manhattans continued to be sold in South America until 1962 as the Carabella.

The Kaiser-Frazer Manhattan is a rare and eye-catching car today. When new they were fairly luxurious, and the supercharged cars, in particular, provided adequate power. The four-door convertible is an interesting body style, and the 1951 models are particularly handsome. The 1955 Manhattans sold in the U.S. are also quite collectible due to their rarity and performance. Locating a Manhattan in top condition is possibly the hardest part of owning one.”

We have two videos for this listing.  The first is this extended TV commercial from 1954 featuring the Kaiser Manhattan:

The YouTube Channel Auto Moments posted a great day review a ’54 survivor Manhattan:

This 1953 Kaiser Manhattan Sedan appears to be a well-sorted example that is a great way to enjoy the old car hobby on a budget with something a bit out of the ordinary.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1953 Kaiser Manhattan four-door sedan, flathead 226 six-cylinder, 4-speed hydra-Matic transmission, original 6-volt system. 22,453 original miles, runs well, shifts well, does not smoke. Rebuilt original starter, generator, water pump and carburetor. Replaced gas tank, fuel pump, voltage regulator, brake lines, master cylinder, wheel cylinders, rear axle seals, shocks, and exhaust system. Radio, wipers lights, horn, and heater all work. Floor pans in great shape, one patch in front passenger side welded in. Original front seat. Door panels in decent shape; rear passenger seat redone. New headliner. Sound deadener installed on floor and roof. Chrome and stainless from 1-5 is a 3.
Price $11,500 willing to trade for ’68-69′ Cutlass.

Show or go: what would you do with this 1953 Kaiser Manhattan?  Comment below and let us know!

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