July 25: Kaiser-Frazer forms on this date in 1945

Justin Hyde

Every mention of Tesla or Fisker often brings up the fact that no start-up automaker has succeeded in the United States since the Dodge Brothers decided to build their own cars in 1915. The story of Henry Kaiser and Joseph Frazer illustrates why that's the case. A wealthy shipping magnate and a seasoned Detroit executive decided to join forces on this date in 1945 and get the jump on big automakers which were slow to convert back to carbuilding after World War II. Kaiser-Frazer models were stylish and well-built, and the company sold 100,000 cars in 1946 — but the ever-present shadow of Detroit, combined with investors impatience for losses, crippled the firm. Eventually Kaiser would combine with Willys-Overland in the company that eventually became American Motors. Maybe some better advertising might have helped:

Photo: myoldpostcards via Flickr

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