The Kaiser Traveler is a very interesting and unique car. It has some unusual features that were pretty revolutionary at the time. The most significant of which is the fact that it is the grandfather of all hatchbacks:


The Kaiser Traveler’s unusual combination of a hatchback-style trunk and a station wagon-style tailgate was unlike anything else on the market at the time, and made the car quite versatile (especially when you folded the rear seat down, which gave you a flat floor and about 83 cubic feet of cargo space). However, it also resulted in the car’s weirdest feature: The left rear door is 100% fake. The one on the right works just as you would expect it to, but no matter how much you pull on the left rear door handle, it will not open. It was welded shut from the factory.

Why is this? Well, first of all, the Traveler was initially based on a regular Kaiser, but in order to incorporate the bizarre trunk, they had to make extreme modifications to the car’s structure so that it would be strong enough. When they finally got the mechanism to work, they ran into a problem. They had designed it so that the floor of the cargo area would be flat, increasing practicality. However, this left no room for a full-size spare tire. They didn’t want to just put the tire in the trunk, because that would eat up valuable cargo space and partially defeat the purpose of making the trunk that way in the first place. So what did they do? They put the spare tire in the left rear door. You can see it clearly here:

This made using that door extremely impractical, so they welded it shut and called it good. Even with the bizarre fake door, consumers liked the car for its unconventional practicality, and it sold fairly well for the first couple years. In 1951, they redesigned the car in such a way that they were able to put the spare tire somewhere else, giving you four functional doors. Oddly enough, though, this version of the car didn’t sell nearly as well.


Still, it’s a very interesting car, and it bravely sacrificed the use of its left rear door so it could pave the way for the modern hatchback.

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