1949 Kaiser Traveler Vagabond

These are considered to be the first hatchbacks

I would love to buy this and make it my DD. What convenience and originality.


A little background of this era (1949-1950 MYs):

Kaiser-Frazer Corporation had, according to press releases, spent $10 million to revamp the 1949 models to make them look longer, lower, and more modern; the Custom model was also replaced by the Deluxe series. The wheelbase was extended to 123.5 inches, with the overall length growing by nearly ten inches to 206.5 inches.

Jack Mueller wrote, “The Kaiser body shell for the 1949-50 model run was, in four-door sedan form, the same basic shell as 1947-48; overall length changes reflect [the revised] design of front and rear bumpers and bumper guards to get a couple of inches here, a couple there, that sort of thing. The problem was that, in 1949, most other car companies either rolled out a new body platform for the model year (Big Three and Nash), or a good facelift of a recently released design. Additionally, Kaiser-Frazer had too many smaller dealers that could not or would not start selling the way the Big Three stores started doing that year. [Another] big problem is that Frazer turned in his resignation as president at the end of 1948. Frazer saw that the information from dealers showing 60,000 orders in hand, as of October 10, 1948, were made up of mostly bogus orders. That story is almost a chapter in itself.”


Joseph W. Frazer was replaced as president by Henry J. Kaiser’s son, Edgar F. Kaiser.

Nine new body colors and four fabrics were available in the Kaiser Special, while the Kaiser Deluxe offered seventeen colors and nine fabrics (and, for convertibles, leather, in three colors). The Kaiser Special had a 100 horsepower six, while the Deluxe was boosted to 112 horsepower with a dual manifold setup. The Deluxe now had the name of the car’s exterior paint on the fenders (for four-door sedans and convertibles — as shown in the illustration above), “Vagabond” on the Vagabond utility models, and “Virginian” on production hardtops; pre-production cars were painted with the legend “Hardtop” instead.

The Kaiser Special had a new four door hatchback, known as the Traveler, costing $2088. In the Deluxe series, the four-door convertible; the four-door Hardtop sedan, known as the Virginian; and the four-door Utility sedan, known as the Vagabond were new. New convenience options were also introduced, including directionals and a rear cigar lighter. Kaiser bragged that the Traveler and the Vagabond led a double life: they were easily converted from a family sedan to a pick-up van in just ten seconds, thanks to an early hatchback design.


Jack Mueller added, “As of April 1949, the MSRP [list price] ranged from $1,995 for Special and $2,088 for Travelers, up to $2,995 for the Virginian and $3,295 for the Deluxe Convertible. Prices include federal tax and delivery preparation by the Courtesy Garage at the factory in Willow Run, Michigan, for cars picked up by retail customers at the Willow Cottage customer delivery facility. The heater, radio, and other options were not included in the listed price. Special offerings also included a stand-alone four-door taxi model. This was the only 1949-50 model year Special that offered the 112 bhp dual-manifold 6 as standard.”

When the results were in, 80,000 1949 Kaisers had been sold, for a loss of $31 million. Frazer dropped to around 25,000 cars.

Some sources claim that the Kaiser had planned to sell another facelifted line of cars for 1950 (and that sale agents were told not to represent these cars as different from the previous product). Jack Mueller wrote:

Kaiser-Frazer never planned the 1950 models to be facelifts; they were [always] to be the car that ended up rolling out as the 1951 Kaiser. The Frazer car was supposed to be dropped due to its sliding performance (72,000 or so 1947s, around 48,000 1948s, and less than 26,000 1949s — figures are all models for each model year).

In a last ditch effort to stay in business, Kaiser-Frazer landed two loans from the Recovery Finance Corporation: around $34 million to re-capitalize the business, and around $10 million to the Kaiser-Frazer Sales Corporation division to finance purchase of new cars from Kaiser-Frazer itself and to maintain an inventory that dealers and distributors could order from. In the case of the latter loan, part of the collateral was the inventory of unsold 1949 models in factory hands and factory storage sites. The factory and dealers would take a perhaps lethal financial loss if their value had to be written down [just] because they were no longer the current model year.

With approval of the RFC, all finished 1949 model year cars got 1950 model year serial numbers and paperwork; so cars built out between November 4, 1949 and March 15, 1950 were 1949 look-alikes with 1950 model year tags. The final total (re-tagged finished cars included) is not known at present, but it can be documented that the last 3,573 built at Willow Run and a small number of cars assembled at the Long Beach, California, assembly plant (for West Coast sale), and another small number of cars built at the Rotterdam, Holland facility for sale outside the USA were the only 1950 tagged cars actually built during the 1950 model year period. The statement about sales people presenting the 1950 cars same as 1949’s is correct.


I mean come on. For $3000 and supposedly all parts there and would be easy to get running again. This would be much better than any American Muscle