Forced Fuel: 1953 Kaiser Manhattan – Sold?

by | Oct 2022 | Classifinds, Free For All Friday

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December 2, 2022, Update – We confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “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.

Modern high-pressure fuel injection systems continue to dim our memories of how finicky vintage carburetors and mechanical fuel pumps used to be.  Hard-starting in winter and subject to vapor lock in the heat of Summer, a classic car can quickly become a handful if the fuel system is not tuned and cared for properly.

The seller of this otherwise stock and restored 1953 Kaiser Manhattan, once listed in October 2022 on Craigslist in Calhoun, Georgia (Atlanta), added two key fuel system improvements.  Specifically, the seller added an aftermarket Holley electric fuel pump and pressure regulator controlled by an under-dashboard-mounted toggle switch. This system prevents Vapor lock during the summer driving season while making it easier to start after long periods of downtime.  Otherwise, the early 1990s restoration appears to be holding up well.  The back seat filled with trophies won at local shows provides further evidence of the quality of this Kaiser Manhattan.

Once offered for $34,500,, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is in line with the five-year rolling average of this guide’s summary for Kaiser Manhattans produced between 1952 and 1955.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can navigate to each comparable car sold as a way to help you evaluate the price of the car featured here:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 Very Good” estimate of $33,400 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $50,700.

Independent domestic automaker Kaiser produced its top-of-the-line Manhattan from 1951 through 1955 in two distinct series. After a modest launch in 1951, the following year Kaiser engineers, led by designers Howard “Dutch” Darrin and Duncan McRae, completed a restyle that included a heavier bumper/grille combination, smooth teardrop taillights, and little chrome rear fender fins that helped to set the styling. One of the most striking features of the 1952 and 1953 Kaiser Manhattans was the bold use of colors and fabrics in a vast array of choices.

Changes for Kaiser’s 1953 model year included dropping the slow-selling Club Coupe from the lineup; styling and functional alterations included widened chrome headlamp rings, counterbalanced trunk lid hinges, redesigned white-on-black instrumentation, a new hood ornament and a lowered rear seat cushion for greater headroom. The Manhattan, the top trim level for 1952 and the mid-level version below the expressive and luxurious Dragon for 1953, incorporated several special features that were either optional or unavailable on Deluxes. A wide chrome band wrapped around the cars’ lower bodies, small chrome tailfins rested atop the rear fenders, and the front fenders were decorated with script nameplates. Other standard features included deluxe instrument panels and special steering wheels, full carpeting, tinted glass, heater/defrosters, and front and rear center armrests.

Myriad options were available throughout the Kaiser lineup. The Manhattan could be fitted with everything from two-tone paint, an 8-tube radio, and a Conditioned Air system to an oil bath cleaner, overdrive for the three-speed manual, or General Motors’ Dual-Range Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. “Full-Control” hydraulic power steering was a new option for 1953 Manhattans, but few were so equipped.

The Kaiser Manhattan’s sole available engine in 1952 and 1953 was the “Supersonic Six,” the long-running L-head straight-six cylinder that displaced 226.2 cubic inches. This solid-lifter engine featured pressure lubrication for all bearings, including the four main bearings, and splash lubrication for its timing chain and valve tappets. With a 7.3:1 compression ratio, single exhaust, and a two-barrel downdraft Carter WGD model 781S carburetor, it made 115 horsepower at 3,650 rpm and 190 ft-pounds of torque at 1,800 rpm in 1952. In 1953, the power figures were bumped to 118 horsepower at 3,650 rpm and 200 foot-pounds of torque at 1,800 rpm due to better breathing via a Carter WGD 999S carburetor and an improved manifold and exhaust design.

The King Rose Archives YouTube Channel features this brief history on Kaiser’s automotive business:

If you prefer your classic rides as close to the original as possible, the 1953 Kaiser Manhattan features an older restoration that still presents well. The fuel system upgrades are a nice touch that adds a bit of modern reliability to a vintage classic.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“I am selling my 1953 Kaiser Manhattan. I have owned it for a little over 2 years. It is completely original. It was restored in the early 90’s and is in amazing condition. It is fully running, driving, and stopping. I’ve driven it to car shows all over North Georgia and won many awards. It has the original flathead 226 straight six and an automatic (hydramatic) transmission. Zero rust and the paint is in great condition. In the time I’ve had it I have done a tune-up that includes original style reproduction plug wires, several oil changes, new front shocks, rebuilt the carburetor, put a new sending unit in the fuel tank, rebuilt the horn, added a battery disconnect switch and about a 100 other small things here and there. It has a brand-new battery that I bought about 3 months ago. I also added an electric fuel pump back by the fuel tank and a Holley pressure regulator to cure vapor lock on hot days. This setup also comes in handy to prime the carb when it’s been sitting for a while. To clarify, the car still runs on the original fuel pump but the electric is controlled by an under-dash toggle switch and can be turned on and off as needed. It is currently registered, tagged, and insured in Georgia.


I do NOT have a title. Georgia does not require a title on a vehicle this age. Will be sold with a bill of sale. She’s good to go and ready for cruising! This is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL car and you will DEFINITELY be the only Kaiser at the car show! Hit the “REPLY” button above to see my phone number. Text or calls both ok. If I don’t answer leave a voicemail and I’ll call you back asap.

Show or go: What would you do with this restored 1953 Kaiser Manhattan For Sale?  Please comment below and let us know!


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