1954-1955 Kaiser Manhattan

The 1954-1955 Kaiser Manhattan was an astonishingly successful facelift on Dutch Darrin's 1951 design, performed by K-F stylist Herb Weissinger. All-new sheetmetal forward of the cowl featured a concave oval grille reminiscent of the Buick XP-300 show car (which Henry Kaiser liked) and curvy front fenders with headlights and parking lights set in chrome-encircled teardrops, again borrowed from Buick. At the rear were large "Safety-Glo" taillights with illuminated lenses running atop the fenders, and the rear window was fully wrapped around.

The redesigned dash was given large, aircraft-like toggle lever controls. Exclusive to these top-line Kaisers was a McCulloch supercharged version of the staid old L-head six, boasting 22 more horsepower. The blower freewheeled economically when not in use.

None of this was enough to save Kaiser, however, and production ceased before the end of the model year. The design was salvaged, though, and built in Argentina as the Kaiser Carabela through the early 1960s -- a tribute to an excellent design.

Pluses of the 1954-1955 Kaiser Manhattan:
  • Last of the line
  • Advanced styling, interior design
  • High comfort levels
  • Quick for a standard-size six-cylinder car
Minuses of the 1954-1955 Kaiser Manhattan:
  • Heavy front end, heavy steering without assist
  • Supercharger was too much for the engine and reliability suffered
  • Still no V-8 or hardtop
Production of the 1954 Kaiser Manhattan:
  • 4-door sedan: 3,860
  • 2-door sedan: 250
    (est. breakdown; total 1954 production: 4,110)
Production of the 1955 Kaiser Manhattan:
  • 4-door sedan: 226
  • 2-door sedan: 44
    (does not include 1,021 export 1955 4-door sedans)
Specifications of the 1954-1955 Kaiser Manhattan:
Wheelbase, inches
: 118.5
Length, inches
: 215.6
Weight, pounds
: 3,265-3,350
Price, new
: $2,334-2,670 (U.S.)

Engines for the 1954-1955 Kaiser Manhattan:

Type Size
sv I-6
226.2 cc
140 1954-1955

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