No automobiles were produced in the United States during World War Two, creating a huge demand during the post-war era for new cars. Industrialist Henry J Kaiser (along with Joseph Frazer from the Graham-Paige automobile company) wanted to enter the car market and decided to launch the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation in 1947. All other manufacturers went back into production with slightly face-lifted 1942 models, leaving Kaiser-Frazer with the only totally new car on the market for 1947. The cars sold well until 1949 when Ford, Chrysler and GM introduced their all-new models. That is when things started to unravel for Kaiser. Supply finally caught up with demand, leaving the factory parking lots full of unsold 1951 Kaisers. Joseph Frazer left the company in 1951 and the Frazer nameplate was dropped soon after. Kaiser would produce some very interesting cars in the in 1950’s, including a fiberglass sports car called the Darrin, and an economy car bearing his name, the Henry J.
Enter the Dragon
The Dragon name had been used before by Kaiser in 1951 for some special paint and interior packaged sedans, but the 1953 model is the most coveted by collectors today. 1953 Dragon exterior styling featured a padded, thickly grained “Bambu” vinyl top, special “Dragon” fender identification, and genuine 14-carat gold plated hood ornament and emblems. Interior appointments comprised more of the “Bambu” material, along with “Laguna” cloth. Underneath it all was over 200 pounds of sound-deadening insulation resulting in the quietest Kaiser ever. The Dragon interior is amazing to see and touch, if not a bit tiki-room in appearance.
With a price tag around $4000, about the cost of a new Cadillac, Kaiser found few buyers for the Dragon. The out-dated, low powered 6-cylinder engine made the Dragon not much of a fire-breather on the highway, especially compared to Cadillac’s powerful 331 CI overhead-valve V-8. By 1955 Kaiser would end car production completely, but not before leaving us with some memorable cars, not the least of which was the Dragon.