1952 Plymouth Cranbrook 4 Door Sedan

The automobile featured in this article is the 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook 4 Door Sedan. The Plymouth Cranbrook  first came out in 1951 as Plymouth's top of the line entry. It replaced the Special Deluxe model when Plymouth changed its naming scheme.

1952 plymouth cranbrook

1952 Plymouth Cranbrook

The Korean War adversely affected production since Chrysler was awarded a government contract to supply war materiel. The 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook itself was similar to the 1951 model but production numbers were quite different. Plymouth Cranbrook 1951 production numbers totaled about 550,000 vehicles. In 1952 that figure fell to 368,000. The following year saw production up to 400,000.

Plymouth Cranbrook Styling

The Plymouth Cranbrook was built as a Sedan, Coupe and Convertible. Any way you look at it the Plymouth Cranbrook exudes a conservative style. Some would call this model the All American car with it's large fenders and bumpers. The Cranbrook with it's six cylinder engine and weight meant that it would never be accused of being a performance car.

plymouth cranbrook dashboard

Plymouth Cranbrook dashboard

The body was welded steel and the frame was arc welded. Chrysler styling with the late 1940's models was a matter of adding a lot of chrome without much thought to it. Their cars from 1950 through 1952 were cleared somewhat of the excess chrome but the boxy silhouette remained.

Chrysler Corporation bought their bodies from Briggs.  Briggs Manufacturing was a major company in the automotive body and upholstery field. Briggs produced bodies for Ford, Chrylser, Packard and some independents. Chrysler acquired Briggs's American car body operation in 1953 for $35 million. At that time Brigg's largest customer was Plymouth.

plymouth cranbrook design

View of the simple Plymouth Cranbrook rear end

In some ways the Plymouth Cranbrook delivered what Chrysler Corporation President K.T. Keller wanted to see in an automobile, that is, a high roofed car that people could wear their hats in. Keller's influence on Chrysler meant many years of very functional yet unfashionable automobile designs. K.T. Keller joined Chrysler Corporation as Vice President in 1926; became President in 1935 and Chairman in 1950. While Chrysler was led by Keller production did reach the one million unit mark.

1952 Plymouth Cranbrook Specifications

The 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook came with a 217-cid flathead straight-six engine, which was rated at 97 hp. This was the same engine offered in the 1951 models.

Transmission was a three speed column mounted manual.

Brakes were hydraulic four wheel drum. Brakes consisted of Cyclebond brake shoes. These were brake linings without rivets. The brake lining was bonded to the steel shoe by pressure and heat.

Front suspension were coiled springs while the rear suspension sat on leaf springs.

The car's wheelbase was 118.5 inches, it's overall outside length 193,875 inches, width was 73.375 inches and height 64.625 inches.

The 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook had an average weight of about 3,300 lbs.

The new car base price of the 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook Sedan was $1,690.

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Plymouth Cranbrook Collector Car

The Plymouth Cranbrook is not exactly a head turning car. As mentioned above, the styling was very conservative but at the same time the Cranbrook also represents the thinking of Chrysler at that time and the influence of K.T. Keller.  In that respect there's a lot to the Plymouth story of such a relatively plain looking automobile and as such it makes the model a good collector car. It's also a relatively inexpensive collector car and makes a good start to a collection.

plymouth cranbrook

1952 Plymouth

Parts appear to be easily accessible if you plan on picking up a project model. All the mechanical parts are available through many auto parts stores and the prices are very reasonable.The Plymouth Cranbrook is considered a solid built car that's easily repairable.

As of this writing the price range seen for the 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook is from about $15,000 to $30,000. Price will depend on restoration degree, mechanical soundness as well as actual miles. Non restored models will likely be well under $10,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)

The Rare 1953 Kaiser Manhattan / Photos and Specs

The automobile featured in this article is a 1953 Kaiser Manhattan. The Kaiser Manhattan was produced for the 1952 and 1953 model years. Another supercharged Manhattan model came out in 1954/55 but is separate from the 1952/53 series. Only a total of about 4,000 supercharged Manhattans were built in 54/55.

1953 kaiser manhattan

1953 Kaiser Manhattan

The Manhattan was advertised by Kaiser as being the safest car on the road. This basic design, as mentioned above, continued in the Kaiser line until the company discontinued building U.S. passenger cars in 1955.

The Automakers Post War

After the end of World War Two, the independent automakers had to spend a lot of money to keep up with the Big Three. The Kaiser Motor Corporation, formerly the Kaiser -Frazer Corporation, was one of several independent auto makers who fell victim to the Big Three when the post World War Two car demand began to wane.There was such a pent up demand for automobiles when the war ended that essentially everyone was selling cars. When that demand began to wane, the smaller independents started having problems. In 1951 Kaiser-Frazer came out with the low priced economy "Kaiser J" model to try to help the sagging sales numbers. The Kaiser J gave the buyer a choice of a four or six cylinder engine.

kaiser manhattan trim

A good view of the Manhattan's chrome trim

The biggest challenge for the non-three major auto makers, Ford GM and Chrysler, was having the financial resources necessary to tool up for new designs. As an good example, a Kaiser-Frazer press release stated that $10 million was spent to make the 1949 models more sleek and modern looking.  After the first post war designs hit the showrooms changes were made more rapidly especially during the 1950's. The Big Three were taking the lions share of business during the 1950's and the independents that were still around were fighting over the table scraps.

Kaiser-Frazer Willow Run Factory

Kaiser-Frazer automobiles were built at their Willow Run facility just about 25 miles west of Detroit. Ford Motor Company had used the facility to build bombers during the war and the plant was massive. Ford gave up the factory after the war and the government leased it to Kaiser-Frazer.

The Kaiser Manhattan

The Kaiser Manhattan was the vehicle that kept Kaiser-Frazer going during the early 1950's. The Manhattan model actually hit the showrooms in 1950 as a Frazer Manhattan. The model was transferred to the Kaiser nameplate in 1952. In 1953 the Kaiser Manhattan could be ordered as a two-door club sedan, a four-door sedan, and a Traveler sedan.

kaiser manhattan engine

Original Kaiser Manhattan Supersonic six engine

The Manhattan, representing the top trim level for 1952 and for 1953 the mid-level version below the luxurious Dragon model. As far as changes with the Kaiser Manhattan from 1952 to 1953, the latter models had widened chrome headlamp rings, counterbalanced trunklid hinges, redesigned white-on-black instrumentation, a new hood ornament and a lowered rear seat cushion for better headroom.

The lower bodies of the 1953 models had a wide chrome band, there were small chrome tail fins that sat atop the rear fenders, and the car's front fenders were decorated with script nameplates.

1953 Kaiser Manhattan Specifications

Both the 1952 and 1953 Kaiser Manhattans were outfitted with the "Supersonic Six," the long-running 226 cubic inch L-head straight-six cylinder engine. The engine was engineered and designed by Continental. Horsepower was rated at 118. Regarding the name of the engine. the "Supersonic Six", the American automotive industry pretty much wrapped itself around all things aerospace. The Oldsmobile Rocket 88 is a good example.

The standard transmission on the Kaiser Manhattans was a column shifted three speed manual Borg Warner unit. Available as an option was a four speed Hydra-Matic automatic from GM.

kaiser manhattan interior

53 Kaiser Manhattan dashboard

Brakes on the Kaiser Manhattan were four wheel Bendix drums.

Front suspension were independent coil springs and tubular hydraulic shocks in along with a linkless anti-roll bar. Rear suspension was a solid axle suspended by semi-elliptic longitudinal leaf springs and canted tubular hydraulic shocks.

Kaiser offered a wide selection of colors and upholstery choices. As a result the buyer could make his or her interior very personalized.

The Kaiser Manhattan had a wheelbase of 118.5 inches. The overall length was 211.1 inches ( compared to the 208.5 inches in 1952) and the width was 74.875 inches. The curb weight varied and averaged about 3,400 lbs.

The Kaiser Manhattan new car price averaged about $2,600.

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kaiser manhattan design

Good view of the rear window design on the Kaiser Manhattan

The Kaiser Manhattan Collector Car

The Kaiser Manhattan's are popular collector cars and they are rare. Produced only during the 1952 and 1953 model years there was only a total of 37,000 vehicles built which included all Manhattan models.

You should be able to find Kaiser Manhattans for sale in a wide range of conditions. Finding one in top condition might not be as easy. AS of this writing, asking prices for the 1952/53 models may range from $2,500 to $40,000. This range covers non restored vehicles needing an engine rebuild to museum quality vehicles.

As of this date, a drivable 54 model in need of repair and restoration is being offered for about $8,000. A couple of other 54 models with rebuilt engines are in the range of $15,000 to $25,000. Also, a 1953 model in very good condition has an asking price of $15,000. A 1952 Manhattan is priced at $9,000. As you can see from the above, prices are in a wide range depending on both mechanical and cosmetic condition.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)

1975 Bricklin SV-1 / The Safety Vehicle

Malcolm Bricklin began his own automobile manufacturing company in 1974. This was after starting Subaru of America and importing the Subaru 360. The story is quite interesting albeit a short one. Bricklin began in 1974 with loans from the New Brunswick government and went into receivership in September of 1975. The theory behind the financial support from New Brunswick was to create jobs in the two planned factories.

bricklin sv-1

1975 Bricklin SV-1

The 1975 Bricklin SV-1 featured in this article was created Malcolm Bricklin and designed by Herb Grasse. As mentioned above, two plants were set up.  Minto was chosen as the location for the Acrylic Body Fabrication while St. John, New Brunswick was the Assembly Facility. New Brunswick reportedly poured in some $23 million before the plug was pulled on the venture.

Because of the very short production run, the Bricklin is a rare car. As to the exact number produced, there's some disagreement. Reports are that 780 vehicles were produced in 1974 and 2,062 units in 1975. When the company went out of business there were twelve vehicles left on the assembly line that were to be 1976 models. In fact, the last official Bricklin SV-1 that was built was designated a 1976 model.

bricklin sv-1 interior

Bricklin SV-1 interior

The Theory Behind the Bricklin SV-1

The Bricklin SV-1 was a sports car with safety being the number one priority. The "SV-1" meant Safety Vehicle First Edition. Here are some of the car's features which were designed for safety.

* Gull Wing Doors that when opened did not interfere with traffic.

* A Four-Sided Perimeter Box Frame which incorporated a Roll Cage to provide maximum protection.

* Bumpers that exceeded Federal government standards.

* Five “Safety” Colors were available including Safety White, Safety Orange, Safety Red, Safety Green, and Safety Suntan.

Bricklin Production Difficulties

The Bricklin SV-1 was built in New Brunswick but many of the car's parts came from Detroit. This fact alone created serious problems with supply.

Difficulties also included the sport car's quality. These included problems with the electric Gull Wing doors, inferior weather stripping and general poor quality of assembly. Put all this together with disappointing sales numbers and the end of financial support from New Brunswick and the automaker folded.

1975 Bricklin SV-1 Specifications

The 1975 Bricklin SV-1 built for the North American market came with a Ford 351 cubic inch V-8 engine with a stated horsepower of 175. Top speed was rated at 103 MPH and the car's Zero to 60 rating was 9.1 seconds.

Transmission was an automatic three speed.

Dimensions for the 75 Bricklin included a 96 inch wheelbase, an overall outside length of 178.6 inches and a width of 67.6 inches. The curb weight was 3,470 lbs. This was heavier than the Chevy Corvette.

The Bricklin was the only production vehicle at the time to have powered gull-wing doors that opened and closed electrically.

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A good book regarding the Bricklin SV-1 and it's short time in New Brunswick is...Only in New Brunswick by author David Goss.

bricklin sports car

Rear view of the Bricklin SV-1

Bricklin SV-1 Production Totals

As mentioned above, total production was just under 3,000 vehicles during the company's short time in existence in New Brunswick.Trying to find the serial number of the last Bricklin built is not an easy task. There was confusion during the last days of the company's operations and there were cars left on the production line in various states of assembly. Reportedly, the last car left on the Bricklin assembly line when it was shut down had a VIN 2864. This automobile was fully assembled and drivable. That being said, the VIN of the last recorded Bricklin was #2857. That was the official number quoted.

Obviously there were cars built past that number and that's where the confusion rests as to exactly how many Bricklins were eventually built. We do know that cars 2858 to 2864 were fully assembled but not entered into the company's books. There were likely cars assembled later with spare parts that would add to those numbers.

bricklin sv-1 dashboard photo

Dashboard view of the Bricklin SV-1

Bricklins For Sale

As mentioned, there were under 3,000 Brickilns built during the short production run. Most estimates are that there are about 1,200 vehicles still around. This figure alone would tell you that the Bricklin is somewhat rare.

The Bricklin is a part of automotive history and therefore is an interesting collector car. At the time the car was an achievement and was the first automobile designed and built specifically for safety which is what the SV-1 is all about.  At the same time the car resembles somewhat the DeLorean without the stainless steel and power.

If you have a Bricklin that requires some restoration, parts are available from a few suppliers that can be found online.

There are not a plethora of Bricklin SV-1's for sale as of this writing but there are some. Asking prices range from about $14,000 to $30,000. Mechanical and cosmetic condition will determine the asking price.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)