|Headquarters||Willow Run, Michigan, USA|
Kaiser Motors (formerly Kaiser-Frazer) Corporation made automobiles at Willow Run, Michigan, USA, from 1945 to 1953. In 1953, Kaiser merged with Willys-Overland to form Willys Motors Incorporated, moving its production operations to the Willys plant at Toledo, Ohio. The company changed its name to Kaiser Jeep Corporation in 1963.
Originally formed as the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation in 1945, the firm was reorganized in 1953 under the name Kaiser Motors Corporation after withdrawal of Joseph W. Frazer from the venture. The Kaiser-Frazer stock was redeemed and Kaiser Motors stock was issued at that time. Kaiser Motors manufactured automobiles in a number of locations around the world with the primary facility and corporate headquarters at Willow Run, Michigan.
The company, founded by Henry J. Kaiser, a United States industrialist, and Joseph W. Frazer, president of the Graham-Paige Corporation, started making automobiles with the brand names Kaiser and Frazer almost immediately after World War II. Kaiser-Frazer also built a small car called the Henry J, named for Henry Kaiser. A slightly re-designed version of the Henry J was sold by selected Sears Auto Centers during 1952 and 1953 under the brand name Allstate. This car was tagged as a product of Sears-Roebuck. While listed for informational purposes in the Sears "wish books", the Allstate could not be purchased by mail order.
In 1948, after too many disputes with Henry Kaiser, Joseph Frazer resigned as president of Kaiser-Frazer; Henry Kaiser's oldest son, Edgar, was made president in April 1949. The Frazer marque was discontinued after the 1951 models. Joseph Frazer remained as a sales consultant and vice-chairman of the Kaiser-Frazer board until 1953. At the 1953 annual stockholders' meeting, Kaiser-Frazer Corporation's name was changed by stockholder vote to Kaiser Motors Corporation. Shortly before meeting, Kaiser-Frazer's Kaiser Manufacturing Corporation division worked out a deal to purchase certain assets (and assume certain liabilities) of the Willys-Overland Corporation, makers of Willys cars and Jeep vehicles. After completing the acquisition, Kaiser Manufacturing Corporation changed its name to Willys Motors, Incorporated. During late 1953 and 1954, Kaiser Motors operations at Willow Run, Michigan were closed down or moved to the Willys facility in Toledo, Ohio. Kaiser car production in the United States ended during 1955.
At the end of 1955, the management team of the Henry J. Kaiser Company used Kaiser Motors Corporation to create a new holding company encompassing the various Kaiser industrial activities. Kaiser Motors' name was changed to Kaiser Industries Corporation, and functioned as a holding company for various Kaiser business holdings including Willys Motors Incorporated.
U.S. production of Kaiser and Willys passenger cars ceased during the 1955 model year, but production of Willys Jeeps in Toledo, Ohio, USA continued. Kaiser continued automobile production in Argentina under the Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) company and Willys passenger cars moved to Brazil under the Willys-Overland do Brasil company, using the dies formerly employed in the U.S. well into the 1960s.
The company changed its name to Kaiser Jeep in 1963. By 1969, Kaiser Industries decided to leave the auto business, which was sold to American Motors in 1970. As part of the transaction, Kaiser acquired a 22% interest in AMC, which it later divested. Included in the sale was the General Products Division, which Kaiser had purchased from Studebaker in 1964 as it prepared to leave the auto business itself. AMC renamed the division AM General, which still operates today, and is best known as the manufacturer of the original High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (or Humvee), later called the Hummer H1.
Kaiser, includes Deluxe, Carolina, Traveler, Dragon and Manhattan sedans.
Henry J, a small economy car including Corsair and Vagabond.
Darrin, the first production fiberglass sports car in the USA, beating the Corvette to market by one month. Featured a unique "pocket door" design that made the doors slide into the fender of the car. Only 435 were made for the 1954 model year.
Willys, including "Aero-Willys" and all sub-trim levels include Aero-Lark, Aero Ace, etc.
Jeep, including pick-ups, CJ (civilian Jeep) vehicles, all steel wagons, Wagoneer, and Jeepster marques.
Allstate, designed to sell through and by Sears-Roebuck department stores in the southern United States, a slightly restyled Henry J. The cars were equipped with Allstate products (tires, battery, etc.). The modest styling changes distinguishing the Allstate from the Henry J were executed by Alex Tremulis, the co-designer of the 1948 Tucker Sedan.
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- Mueller, Jack (2005) Built to be the Best MT Publishing, Evansville, IN.