Storage Setback: 1950 Kaiser Traveler – SOLD!

by | Apr 2023 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Free For All Friday

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April 26, 2023, 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.

Modern SUVs and CUVs not only made the traditional station wagon extinct but also caused the virtual demise of hatchback cars.  Hatchbacks provide more cargo space than their fixed-trunk counterparts as well as offer a sleeker, sportier roofline. With the proliferation of hatchbacks in the 1980s and 1990s, can you think of what car introduced the idea of the hatchback? As is the case with so many innovative designs that initially flopped, the American independent carmaker Kaiser gets the nod for launching the first domestic hatchback in 1950.  This restored mint green 1950 Kaiser Traveler, last spotted for sale on Craigslist in Royal Palm Beach in April 2023, is reported to be one of only eighteen known to still exist.  This vintage Kaiser benefits from a well-preserved frame-off restoration completed a number of years ago. Unfortunately, the seller indicates the loss of their storage space is the motivation for selling their rare hatchback.

Currently offered for $27,500, the Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls above this guide’s #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $22,600 before factoring in a three-percent add for the desirable three-speed overdrive transmission.

The Kaiser Traveler was the brainchild of entrepreneur Henry J. Kaiser, who reportedly conceived the hatchback roofline by tracing the outlines of its double-opening hatches with his finger in the dust on a sedan in the Kaiser garage in Oakland. The concept was simple: cut out the entire deck and rear window area of a traditional sedan, hinge half of it to lift up and the other half to flop down.  The devil is in the details and consequently, nearly two hundred modifications to Kaiser’s basic sedan offering were required to develop the Kaiser Traveler.

The detailed execution of the Kaiser Traveler was clever. Harvey Anschutz, Kaiser-Frazer’s head of body development, spent three weeks with the laws of 48 states on his desk, devising a lighted license plate holder that would flop down when the deck was lowered without violating any position or visibility laws.  A big, T-shaped handle was devised to ease the operation of the hatches on the Kaiser Traveler, and a strong piano hinge strengthened the lower hatch. When open, this member was suspended by strong chains and bagged in vinyl to prevent rattles. Anscheutz also created a folding rear seat by tilting the cushion forward against the front seats and lowering the backrest to extend the cargo platform to its seven-foot length. The seat-folding method is still used in wagons today.  Some aspects were makeshift, however: on the 1949-1950 models, which lacked a sub-floor spare tire compartment, the left rear doors were welded shut, and the spare bolted to the inside panel.

The King Rose Archives YouTube Channel features this video providing a history of Kaiser automotive innovations:

Not only is this restored 1950 Kaiser Traveler for sale a rare find, but it also appears to be a well-preserved example featuring several nice upgrades that can be returned to factory stock with the spare parts the seller plans to provide.

If you are serious about buying this Kaiser Traveler, you can start the conversation by contacting the seller through the information provided in their Craigslist ads.  When you connect, please remember to mention you saw their restored hatchback featured here on Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Lost my storage so I have my 1950 Kaiser Traveler for sale. This model is America’s very first hatchback- the rear cargo space is 9 feet long. There are only 18 known to exist.
This car had a frame off restoration years ago and looks better than any new car off the showroom floor! The green vinyl interior and the paint underneath the car both are in pristine shape. The 226 engine has 58,000 miles on it and the oil pressure holds at 30 pounds. Three-speed transmission. It has an Edmunds head, dual. carburetors, Edmunds manifold system, and dual glass pack mufflers. New radial tires that look like bias tires. The car has won 16 national awards (mostly gold). Extra parts include the original head, original manifold, muffler, and a spare three-speed transmission with OD. Please contact me for more photos.

Show or go: What would you do with this restored 1950 Kaiser Traveler for sale?  Please comment below and let us know!


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