1954 KAISER 'Supercharged' Manhattan

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1954 KAISER 'Supercharged' Manhattan


The Frazer was built by the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation of Willow Run, Ypsilanti, Michigan, between 1946 and 1951. It was the flagship in the company’s line of luxury automobiles and was one of the very first cars to introduce the American public to the fresh, aerodynamic styling that would characterise much of American post-war car design for a decade to come.

The Manhattan, introduced in 1947, was the prestige iteration of the Kaiser-Frazer marque. Available as both a convertible and a sedan, it was powered by a 3.7-litre inline 6-cyclinder engine sending power to the rear wheels through an automatic transmission.

Production of the Frazer Manhattan ended in 1951, when Messrs Frazer and Kaiser parted company.

Somewhat confusingly, the Manhattan name continued in the Kaiser line-up (as the Kaiser Manhattan), sitting just below the top-of-the-range Kaiser Dragon.

The Kaiser Manhattan is a prestigious model from a rare and distinctive marque.

Built from 1953 -1955, only 4,109 Manhattans were produced by the small and independent auto company, Kaiser, before it was elbowed out of the market by the Big Three.

The Vehicle

This motor car is being sold as part of an overseas collection. It has been imported under the Bonhams temporary admission customs bond and is therefore subject to the lower rate 5% import tax if the car is to remain in the UK & purchased by a private individual. The 5% is calculated on the final selling price. For example, if the car sells for £8,000, then £400 is added, making the total amount payable of £8,400.

The winning bidder will receive a receipt for the final hammer value, and proof that HMRC fees are paid. If the car is subsequently exported abroad within 30 days then these fees are refundable.

A company buying the car will have to pay VAT on the hammer price, as well as duty + VAT.

Lastly, there will be a nominal administration fee of £250 for processing the NOVA application, and payable direct to the shipping company. A completed and processed NOVA will provide you formal proof that all duties & taxes are paid in UK and thus allow you to register the vehicle with the DVLA

In common with the majority of cars in this collection, this vehicle has been on static display for a number of years and there is no history available beyond that displayed in our photography section.

We have not started or driven the car so cannot vouch for its mechanical viability or functionality. It will require recommissioning prior to road use and is sold ‘as seen’.

It is available for view and inspection at our HQ near Abingdon and we will be delighted to show the car to you and/or your appointed engineer.

This example of the Kaiser Manhattan was built in 1954 and benefits from the addition of a supercharger, which became a standard production feature towards the end of that year.

Engineers at Kaiser used the same McCulloch VS57 supercharger found on the Thunderbird, raising the horse power of the Manhattan from 115 to 140 BHP.

The car was instantly lauded for its power and performance, featuring a 3.7-litre engine with the popular hydromantic transmission, which Kaiser marketed as providing 'two engines in one – economy coupled with energy'.

The styling is exquisite with a jet-air scoop grille, elegant tear-drop headlights and enormous wrap-around rear window.

This example is quite original, with what appears to be a factory interior.

With the exception of the paintwork, which has suffered, it is in good overall condition, with only 44,394 miles on the odometer.

On the Outside

In general, and from a few yards away, this car presents pretty well.

This is an impression that somewhat diminishes as you get closer.

While the bodywork is pretty true, and the panels are largely free of any dinks or dents to speak of, the paint is variously crazed, cracked, split or peeling away depending on where you look.

The worst of it is on the o/s/r door, where rust has got to the bare metal through cracks in the paint.

The green roof has fared rather better, although there are a few flat spots here and there.

Elsewhere, there are a few traces of rust dust in various seams and intersections, but nothing that looks more than superficial.

The wheels, trim, lights and badging are all in decent nick. The o/s/f tyre is flat.

The shut lines and panel gaps seem consistent and even, and the doors slam home with plenty of weight and precision – this is a very solidly built vehicle.

This big car has more chrome that the Chrysler building. Thankfully, most of it has held up pretty well although there is some foxing and pitting in places.

There are a few chips to the paint along the leading edges of the doors and bonnet.

On the Inside

The interior condition is really very decent.

There is some deterioration to the fabric on the seats and door cards – maybe a moth or two has been at work in places – but the seats are comfortable and supportive all round and the overall impression is of a well-maintained and preserved interior.

The door cards are a little discoloured and grubby and would no doubt thank their next owner for showing them a soapy chamois.

The carpets are much the same in that while they’re not perfect, they’re a long way from being condemned.

The headlining is good, as is most of the interior trim and the various fixtures and fittings.

The instruments, gear selector and steering wheel are very much of their era and seem to be in good condition.

There are one or two places on the steering column and dashboard where the green paint has flaked away.

We can’t make any claims about the functionality of switches, knobs, levers, toggles, buttons, dials or other electrics as we haven’t tried to start the vehicle.

The boot, which is big enough to warrant its own postcode, contains a spare wheel and a few extra bits of chrome trim for those people whose lust for chrome can never be sated.


The undersides are showing some evidence of rust dust and flaking, but most of what we can see looks to have a decent amount of structural integrity.

Clearly, you’ll want to take a look for yourself.

The engine and engine bay look clean and dry with everything apparently in its right and proper place.

History Highlights

The car doesn’t come with a service history or any record of work done.

Currently, this car has neither an MoT certificate nor a V5. It must be registered in the country of your choice and you will need to contact the appropriate vehicle licensing agency for instructions on how to do this. Any paperwork shown in the gallery is a facsimile and in no way constitutes any kind of licensing or registration certification.

What We Think

This exclusive Kaiser Supercharged Manhattan is a highly collectible automobile for its rarity, avant-garde styling and impressive performance.

Pleasantly authentic and in good overall condition bar the paintwork, this 1954 model offers an opportunity to acquire a rare post-war automotive icon, produced for a very brief window in the history of the American car industry.

We haven’t tried to start or drive the car so our understanding of it is somewhat limited.

That said, provided the car’s engine and mechanicals prove to be in proper working order and amenable to recommissioning, we think this could be a particularly rewarding Supercharged Manhattan for someone with the passion and expertise to take it to the next level.

We’re confident to offer this car for auction with an estimate of £8,000 - £12,000, plus Bonhams bond payment and £250 NOVA fee.

Viewing is always encouraged and this car is located at our Abingdon headquarters; we are open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’

Bidders MUST ensure they are aware of the registration situation of a car in auction, and whether it will be possible to export/register a vehicle in their country BEFORE they bid.

All vehicles MUST BE COLLECTED WITHIN 7-DAYS of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per week) thereafter without exception.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage can offer you options, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping both domestic and international.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we always encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using basic cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 44394
  • Chassis Number: K542001087
  • Gearbox: auto
  • Steering position: LHD
  • Colour: White / Blue
  • Interior: Blue / White
  • Estimated Price: £8,000 - £12,000

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