Kaiser Drag’n Build

I’m guessing most of you already read Speedhunters, but in case you haven’t checked it lately, I’m going to be doing some guest blogs this month since March is “Builds/Previews Month”. Firstly I’d like to thank Rod Chong for giving me the opportunity, it’s most appreciated and I can’t express my gratitude enough.

I’m going to post up the builds here too, so here’s the first one that just got published in the last 24hrs or so. You can see the story on Speedhunters by clicking here.

The first build I want to show you is known as the “Kaiser Drag’n build”. It’s a 1951 Kaiser Manhattan owned and built by Keith who resides in Tempe, Arizona.

The car in standard form, a great classic shape but it’s about to get a whole lot better. Not bad for $150.

Here we have the beginnings of a roof chop. You can see just how much extra body work has to be done to the A, B and C pillars to make the new roof line conform to the rest of the car.

The Kaiser sitting side by side with its new heart, nervous system, and skeleton. The donor chassis for this build comes from an ex-Police 1995 9C1 Chevrolet Caprice. A keen eye will spot that at this stage the B-pillar has been moved back, and the front door has been lengthened. That’s how you convert a 4 door car into a 2 door.

“When two become one”. The heavily modified 1951 body rests atop the 1995 chassis thanks to some custom mounts. The frame was airbagged and notched before the body went on, making it much easier to work on.

After much more bodywork, wiring, and general wrenching, the car was at a drivable state and even attended shows like this.

The airbags doing their thing.

But the work was no where near finished. The above image shows the new frenched home for the numberplate.

Moving our attention to the inside of the car, a custom brake pedal takes the place of its boring OEM replacement. It’s details such as this that make these projects go on for so long. But when the end result finally comes to light, it’s these same details that set them apart from the rest.

The stock gauge cluster didn’t escape from being modified. The framework behind the fascia was trimmed enough to be able to fit a series of Autometer gauges in place of the originals.

Then, the numbers were rubbed off from the speedometer, and only the needles of the smaller Autometer gauges were visible. This retains the classic appearance of the original dash while having more accurate functionality thanks to the newer components.

Late last year, the car was stripped back down and hauled over to the workshop of custom car legend, Gene Winfield. The Kaiser was sent there for the purpose of having the bodywork and paint completed, but when you’re in the company of someone like Gene, more modifications are bound to happen, and that’s exactly how it went down.

Here’s Gene in the process of welding a frenched base for the hood ornament.

Group shot, Keith & Gene standing proudly in front of the Kaiser. It must be an indescribable feeling to work side-by-side with Gene Winfield on your own car. Keith is actually in the early stages of setting up his own shop, you can hit him up at TruCraftDesignCo@gmail.com.

Bare metal fenders being massaged to perfection, so close to being covered in fade-style paint job along with the rest of the body. Which do you prefer? Painted and glossy, or raw metal?

Lastly, I leave you with a parting image of the Kaiser sitting patiently outside Gene Winfield’s shop awaiting further attention. Why stop here? Because like most of the builds I feature, the car is still a work in progress. What you see here is only a portion of all the hard work and details that have been put into this build, so if you want to see more (and I know you do) then head to the actual build thread at http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=272171 and keep checking back for updates.

2 thoughts on “Kaiser Drag’n Build”

  1. Hi my name is Jimmy and i live in Sweden. I have à 53 Kaiser Manhattan and i am going to chop the roof and i wonder how you did to fit the back window to the new roof? I really like your car it’s the coolest car i have seen. How long did you work in it? Regards Jimmy

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