While Tridaq & I (and possibly one or two others in this forum) have fairly vivid memories of some of the old independent automotive marques that disappeared back in the '40s & '50s, I thought that some of the younger members might be interested in some fairly obscure auto-related trivia from the '40s, '50s, & '60s:
Graham Motors (also known as Graham-Paige) manufactured popularly-priced cars with fairly high performance, due to their use of superchargers as early as the late '30s. However, this marque was not a big seller, and they continued to circle the drain as the '40s approached. Due to a lack of funding for a major redesign, they joined forces with the Hupp Corporation (manufacturers of the Hupmobile, another good-quality car), and together they adapted the body design of the now-dead Cord for their 1941 models.
Even though the Cord had been FWD, and both the Graham and the Hupmobile were RWD, the resulting body style was decent-looking, even if it lacked the “coffin nose” of the old Cord. The Graham & the Hupmobile had identical bodies for 1941 (only the grills differed slightly), even though they were two separate companies with separate factories. However, the new body style was not enough to save them, and both companies ceased car production in 1941, after manufacturing only a few hundred cars.
Now…fast forward to 1945, when ship building magnate Henry Kaiser decided that he wanted to go into the car business after WWII. Because he lacked automotive experience, he hired Joe Frazer (no, not the boxer!), who was the last CEO of Graham-Paige Motors, to run the new enterprise, and, in 1946, their first new cars rolled off the assembly line. While many folks know that Kaisers were made in the gigantic Willow Run factory (previously used by Ford for airplane production during the war), the Willow Run factory was not ready right away, and as a result, the first Kaiser & Frazer automobiles were made in the old Graham-Paige factory which had been idle for 5 years or so.
What I find truly interesting is that the first few runs of these new, “clean-sheet” Kaiser/Frazer designs bore a plate on the firewall identifying them as Graham-Paige automobiles! Why this was the case, I don’t know, but the fact remains that, while the bodies bore Kaiser or Frazer nameplates, the corporate plate on the firewall called them Graham-Paiges. Curious, isn’t it?
After some interesting designs in the early '50s, Kaiser ceased production of their passenger cars, but their story does not end there, as Kaiser had purchased Willys Motors by that time, and they stayed in the automotive business in the US by producing the old 4WD designs of Willys. And, the Kaiser body dies and other machine tools were shipped to South America, where the old Kaiser automobiles stayed in production for at least another decade.
So…by the mid-'50s, Kaiser Motors was now dead in the US, and…obviously…so was Graham-Paige–right?
Graham-Paige dropped the “Motors” from its name and went into real estate, buying up such properties as Roosevelt Raceway in New York, and Madison Square Garden. In 1962, the firm changed its name to the Madison Square Garden Corporation.
While the info about Graham-Paige’s involvement in real estate is somewhat obscure, it is factual, and just seems intriguing to me.