THE MIRACLE OF GETTING
A CHANCE TO REBUILD
MY CAR  AGAIN, 20 YEARS LATER
Eric Gordon's 1954 Kaiser
Convertible Conversion


 

 

 
 
 
 
 

ERIC GORDON'S  '54 KAISER CONVERTIBLE
APPROVED BY DESIGNER "DUTCH" DARRIN


On  my nineteenth birthday I bought a  used '54 Kaiser Manhattan right off a
New Jersey automobile dealership's showroom floor. Originally this car was a 2 door
Sedan. And I made it....converted it to a "Convertible" (vin # K542-002380).

Yes, I just started with a hacksaw, pliers, chisel, hammer and screwdrivers.
Yes, and a huge amount of youthful "can do" enthusiasm-optimism and not to forget that
nebulous elusive  naiveté. Without that I would have never gotten started.
What puzzled me back then, and, yes, even today, is:
Why was a '54 Kaiser taking up space in a dealership's showroom;
almost a decade had passed, since this 2 door Sedan was new?
I saw this car late one evening while getting off a crowded expressway, and  driving
through town. It took up the whole show-window and looked phenominal and
mysterious the way it was lit with hidden spotlights. That night I could not sleep much.
I only thought about the '54. I had never seen one, and knew they only made very few.
I had gotten a really bad case of the incurable "Kaiser-Fever."
After all, I was already driving a '51 Kaiser which I liked tremendously.

At that time my family lived in an apartment and our cars were parked in city streets.
It just so happened that my mother bought a "summer cottage" a month earlier, some
forty miles outside the city, three miles from a lake. This "country-place" inspired me
to want a convertible. It had to be a car with very special lines, low-long-sleek.
My mother also liked the looks of the '54 and said :
"...almost like a brand new car...but where will you be able to park it?"
"At our summer-place, " I replied. "But we don't even have a driveway?" she said.
"So? So I'll build the driveway first." The next day I bought the 2 door Kaiser.
And now, let the following pictures, each tell a thousand words, and more...

OH ! Kaiser designer Howard "Dutch" Darrin's approval ?

Once I finished building the Convertible, I volunteered for the U.S. Air Force, and was
stationed out West, Nevada. I used my Kaiser as a daily driver on base, 99 per cent of
the time the top was down, I even upgraded  the transmission to manual with overdrive.
After serving honorably, I settled down in Southern California. There, years later, upon
a chance visit with friends to Santa Monica's Park, I noticed a distinguished elderly
gentleman taking snapshots of my Kaiser Convertible.
(I had heard that "Dutch" Darrin lived somewhere  in Santa Monica).
"Are you "Dutch" Darrin by any  chance?" I asked the gentleman.
"Yes, I am. I designed this car, but we never built a convertible !" Darrin looked closer
at my Kaiser, then said: " Very good... this is excellent work...who built this?"

"Mr.Darrin, I did it...I am the "redesign...  ahh...reworker," I answered.
Then I showed him a small photo album of the conversion work
I carried in my  glove compartment.

He then invited me and my friends to his house. I parked in his driveway. I listened
with my friends of all the cars he told us about that he had
designed and showed us photos of them.
Many were especially custom made by him for Hollywood-Stars and personalities.

Next to my car, in his driveway, was a new Volvo which he was at that very moment in the
process of redesigning.
That familiar "chrome slash" across the grill?
"Dutch" told me personally :
"In our mechanical automotive world, everything is balanced. Right and left,
top to bottom, all is equally balanced. This "slash" violates an unspoken code,
your eye is drawn to this, therefore, this Volvo becomes more visible........"

Reflecting upon this decades later, I realize I truly was in the presence of one of
the great "genius" automotive designers.


This is how Eric built the 54 Kaiser Convertible.
It's now time to look at how he found that car after some 20 odd years of searching.

That was about 3 decades ago. Today Eric was fortunate enough to get a second chance to rebuild his convertible.

 

c  copyright  2005 by Aigle Books
POST SCRIPT:
ERIC GORDON, Writer, Editor, Publisher of Aigle Books, Place ST. Georges, Paris, France  GIVES HEREBY
PERMISSION: for John MacDonald- "Sympatico Mail" <johnmd1@ns.sympatico.ca> and ,sharon@summerville-
novascotia.com. to use my writings, computer sending and pictures for the above named internet pages.
(Saturday 26 March 2005.
 


For family reasons Eric had to trade this car for an airline ticket back East,


to help his mother who had gotten very ill; twenty-five years ago.
Ever since then he had tried to locate his Custom Convertible.
After a nearly 20 year search, Eric's car was found by a Kaiser-Frazer
Club member.  On January 14th 2006 the present owner allowed Eric 
and this K-F Club member to view  Eric's car and take some snapshots.

Surprisingly, it is only 99.9 miles from the New Jersey driveway where 
Eric had built/rebuilt this convertible in the early 60's. 
It is now stored in a barn and needs lots of TLC. There are no major damages,
as these pictures show..........

!!!!Coming Home !!!!
The following announcement was received from Eric Gordon 
on the 28th of April 2006.
<> NEWS <> CONVERTIBLE NEWS <>

  DRIVING TO PENNA  /  RENT U-HAUL 
   TOW  MY 54 KAISER CONVERTIBLE BACK TO  CONNECTICUT / 
 THE PRESENT OWNER CALLED / WE MADE A REASONABLE  $-DEAL

And now the story continues


And then like everything else in life, time changes one, things, beliefs, attitudes, history, as we mature and learn. With lots of luck and the  tremendous help of KFOCI member Gene and Kathy Webb, of Moscow, Penna. I managed to repurchase "MY" car again.  It was Gene who called me in January 2006 to let me know where I could find this Convertible again and urged me to call the present owner. I was in a mild state of   ???? after some 20 odd years of searching.
And it was Gene, again, who helped in the  loading and trailering, driving it through the steep mountain paths of the "Endless Mountains Region" of Northeastern Pennsylvania on the 
29th of April 2006.
(Gene actually drove the truck and trailer for me one fourth of the way, back to CT.)
I can't begin to thank Gene.

Early in the morning of April 29'th Eric took a little drive to Pennsylvania.

The following pictures will tell the story of the start of a new life for

"ERIC GORDON'S  '54 KAISER CONVERTIBLE"

:"Jersey boy....standing proud....
  some three decades ago...
"standing proud"  with "MY" car that
  I built/rebuilt some 30 years ago....

 
And now the work begins

 
No major body damage, other than 25 year 
old paint ,totally faded, some spots of previous medium metallic blue showing through....
dirt and grime removed...
...already removed back seat...
floor needs to be wire brushed, cleaned and painted... floor in very good condition...
    ...trunk and  spare-wheel well in very good shape ..
.almost no rust damage...
burgundy color is KF undercoat, not rust...
    ...silver rust inhibitor paint I applied
over 3 decades ago protected trunk, now
however, it needs to be scraped off entirely...
... and rust preventative paint applied...
"...full trunk area... I decided to paint all white with rust preventative undercoat...
 "... Kaiser Motors had this feature over 50 years
ago.  Rolls Royce Motors, as little as 20 years ago still had their spare cumbersomely slung under the trunk;  thereby susceptible to road debris, dirt and  rain & the harsh winter elements, making it extremely difficult to remove spare tire cradle before one even reaches a smudged tire.."
I will be refurbishing  "chrome" for the second time soon...however, I do not think the $240. I paid before:  for ALL will even reach for just the 7 piece grill and headlight frames.
The ALL included :
massive  entire rear bumper, two 1 x3 foot rear tail lights, massive front grill and light frames and
hood scoop grill
....this time the '53 Lincoln bumper also needs to be chromed...
 
....absolute massive front seat quite prevalent....
   
 "...also shows massive metal frame....
   
.....about 40% of the springs would have to be replaced if I decide to use the original seat....
   
....."and in this corner, we have    'Livingroom Couch' weighing in at 150 lbs."
 1  
"...I had to get under "the rink" to wrestle "Livingroom Couch" off the FLOOR..FOUR ROUNDS...
...last bolt finally  'YIELDED"
...and  "BROKE OFF ! "
2
"...springs of back of rear seat in very good shape, just need some  wire brushing and rust preventative paint to restore , about 90% A-OK...
3
...will most likely be able to use this part of the rear seat..." (it all depends upon being able to find matching vinyl)
....actually looks like the fine Nevada desert         sand is still inside metal ridges from 35 years ago...
4
..this seat is only temporary, until I find the
  right 50's -  60's folding bench seat.. or totally
  restructure the original seat...
....all interior siding  and hardware removed.            usable side panels stored for now... perhaps        possible future use? Such as trunk interior ?
...some bondoing needed and a fresh coat of rust preventative primer...
... always amazing what 2 hours of wire
brushing can do...
6
 ...and another hour of bondoing, sanding and not
to forget Naval Jelly rust inhibitor...before painting  area with primer...
{previous floor welds held up A-OK}
7
 ....after bondoing got painted again with primer....
8
... also the inside door got a coat of paint this time!
I did not do this some 35 yrs ago, when I fitted the  inside door mechanism of 1953 Buick onto the
inside of the Kaiser "coupe - NOW - convertible" ...
9
 ....and now the final primer coat, really makes
  the "new" floor shine !
10
...this was the passenger side before... 
 13  
 "...metal plates fastened over small  floor holes;  then bondoed...
14  
...bondo hardens in 3 to 5 minutes... 
 15  
  ...then sanding....
 16  
  ...and then more sanding....
 17  
...and second primer coat applied" 
 18  
.....and now  third primer coat... 
 19
  and this is what the passenger side floor
        looks like "after" my work
20  
...bondo prep  for ...
 21  
 ....for second primer coat..
 22  
,,,and third primer paint !
23
...some work requires new floor sections to be installed...
24
...some work requires new floor sections to be installed...
25
.....then bondoed...
26
 .....and sanded, this can take a while....
27
....and finally get primer coat 2 and 3
28
...over 30 years ago I reworked the backseat frame 
in it's roughed in stage only. This time?....
29
 ....total detailing make-over:
 including bondoing around welds sanding, scraping...primer rust-proof paint...
30
 ...lots of cleanup work this time !
        A real "operation"...
 ...final primer coats applied .
No one will ever see this part of the car !However,
I will know it is there; and the work that was done !
...finally finished: front floor...
 ...rear...
...  and a total overview of my "entirely new" floor !
Install the carpet, to an exact science,
and also protect the primer paint.
... new plate for "brake master cylinder access"  manufactured...
...I had  installed a "Jeep" transmission, at the Auto Club,<an off duty hobby shop> while serving at a Nevada AF Base... 
 (see :  ...1954 Kaiser Convertible Conversion)
 ... for protection of the floor, I decided to install the carpet : however, underside  for now on top...
 ...carpet trim used on rear seat brace...
 ... "Air Force Blue"  actual color of carpet...
 ...carpet installed upside down for now
to protect the floor...
 ...eventually the seat-back will be upgraded,
 depending upon trunk interior installation...
Eric took a few days off the rebuild to celebrate the United States'  Independence Day, July 4'th. 
...celebrating  "Manhattans"...my convertible since I was a teenager, and celebrating 10 years of restoring the 4 door sedan...
    < I  worked and lived in Manhattan for a while >
   
INDEPENDENCE DAY ! Party time 2006 !
Matching baloon 
( drifted in from our baseball stadium )
and a blue bow for the convertible.
...if all cars had a "Disney" personality ?
...excellent view of the Cadillac windshield on my convertible..
...and the Lincoln front bumper 
...these two would certainly celebrate...
..." share...
..."and share.."
"I used '71 Peugeot 504 door "beading" 
 to frame the modified Chinese carpet."
..."alike";
5 years ago I installed two carpets in the Sedan.
Now, this one is perfect for the
trunk of the  Convertible.
...this < transferring of a carpet > was easy work..
...it is a Holiday after all..
... in 2006 ... it was an excellent  Independence Day  !

And now to get back to work


 "   for the convertible top to fit flush with the beltline of the car (and not to look like a VW convertible, when the top is down ), 
I had removed some of the wheel well space over 3 decades ago.
I then  fastened part of an inner tube (removed here)  for protection over the "cut". ...
 
 "...the aluminum wrap/foil  I am using  as a "template"  for a stronger metal cover that needs o be designed/engineered for the wheel well "cut" ... 
 ...I also bought an entire  rear seat 3 point seatbelt set from Kleeman's, our local salvage yard, shown here not installed yet..
...small screws and rubber washers help form metal into desired shape...
 ...screws and rubber washes help indicate how metal is to be fastened to form new wheel well shape...
..for convertible top rear frame "in the down position. " New wheel well helps cradle and protect convertible top...
 ...as each screw and rubber washer is removed, a steel rivet fastens metal to metal into desired shape...
...well... had to brush up a bit on my Air Force maintenance "riveting" skills of some 30+ years ago..
 ...BONDO-ING makes anyone wonder how Michelangelo worked in marble stone..
I can only work with a "golf ball size" amount gray bondo & " toothpaste-squeeze size "red hardener:
...  quick; there are only 3 to 5 minutes and this gooey, goofy, stuff (like soft soap and lard)  turns rock hard !  Smells horrible too !
...bondo-ing and sanding....
...bondo-ing and sanding....
...bondo-ing the natural casing & curves of the metal into a totally new sculpture/shape of the wheel well !
...finally, after all that sanding and bondo-ing, I apply the first coat of rust preventative "rust-red primer"..
 And now the second coat of primer paint !
...my brother, the Artist has an MFA from UCLA  assures me that even Michelangelo used this color as a primer for the Sistine Chapel...
I do think I could have worked myself into Michelangelo's shop as a grounds and prep man...
(..that is...were I not foolin' around with Kaisers 500 years later)
...however, instead of sheet metal, "this time copper sheeting" ; and now since this is one of the most  ancient crafts, the word "sheathing" could also be applied...
....now the driver's side wheel-well  "sculpture" needs to be designed/engineered  and manufactured.
Like the other side, I had fastened some inner tube rubber (removed here) as cover for this wheel-well cut...
...this is the absolute very first step: copper sheet cut to 2 and 1/2 by 2 foot  size  to start the wheel well sheathing ! 
 ...extra heavy duty leather gloves, I would strongly
recommend for this task. Bottom of "copper sheath"  already has screws installed,  to...
...to be able to hammer the "sheathing" into place.
Left a 10 lbs lead hammer,  right a 5 lbs iron hammer
do form the copper quite well into the desired shape!
...view straight down...
...showing the very front of the wheel well
including temporary screws with large plastic washers.
...aluminum foil only used as a  "template" ...
...copper "sheathing" pounded into sculpture/shape   of driver's side  new wheel-well...
 rubber washers and temporary screws holding 
copper in place are visible here...
...temporary washers and screws hold malleable copper in place...
aluminum foil used as "template"...
...was able to hammer the copper sheathing into the desired form ...
... ready for  riveting work.
...lots of rivets: aluminum heads
        with stainless steel shanks...
....I actually counted 55...
...copper is easier to work with, and stronger
than the sheet metal I used on the other side.
Now comes the bondo-ing.
...bondo-ing and sanding...
..and bondo-ing and sanding, then come the primer coats of paint.
... critical clearance needs to be aligned for future top fabric and the new solid wheel wells on both sides...
... top folds down completely below ...
...the "belt-line" of the Kaiser convertible body...
... 53 Cadillac top frame folds completely under "belt-line"  of Kaiser.
...rough work now completed...
  by using sheet metal and copper...
 ...  bondo and primer paint on the passenger side wheel-well...
...to make sure the Cadillac convertible top-frame fits properly, into newly designed/engineered  "cradle"...
  ...driver's side is all copper, a little more work, but stronger. Then comes...
  ...bondo and primer paint. The frame fits perfect now into the designed/engineered "cradle."

 
... also,  an approximate location  of these rear side        panels, I have decided to modify and install...
....therefore progress will slow down some, since I cannot make any mistakes...
... and must now  work to precise standards, to modify  '89 Fleetwood paneling to my '54 Kaiser convertible.
Access to brake master cylinder, new copper 
cover now secured...

l

...besides the interior, other work needs to be done,
 such as replacing this flat tire...
... cleaning wheels...
...this includes wire-brushing the brake drums ...
... and applying a coat of fresh paint...
...also to the rear  leaf springs and other parts of the underside I can reach ...
This tire and rim/wheel I had saved, from 3 decades ago, when I changed all the wheels to  14"...
...one can even see the slight overspray from my
original Olds metallic royal blue color; when I first
customized this convertible.  One could call this :
"A spare tire in waiting?" which is now reunited with the convertible again...
........the amazement actually stems from the fact that
out of all the receipts I had saved from my convertible,  the purchase  receipt for my 4 whitewalls  from "Manny Moe & Jack";("cartoonish-mascots" of Pep-Boys, an auto parts chain) had also survived these decades among my "memory papers" saved/found from my custom convertible.
..."and herewith endeth the nostalgia worship!"
...wire-brushing, sandpapering, damp rag cleaning,
and a fresh coat of paint,  and these steel wheels look new again.
The unfinished wheel (top) actually has a "re-cap"
mounted.  Safety for the automotive industry has      come a long way. I don't think one can still buy        recap tires...?
Few sunny days in November allow me to clean and refurbish and ...
..undercoat  the underside of the new copper wheel-wells.
...again,  the process is repeated for the passenger 
side wheel-well...
...cleaned and  then rubberized undercoating applied...
..coating  work is repeated with the passenger 
side wheel-well...
... the  rust resistant undercoat is
rubberized & paintable...
...more cleaning and bondoing..
... then the rust resistant undercoat...
...all the brake drums get cleaned and a light coat of rust resistant paint...
Rear panels + bumper support...
  ...brackets + rear splash panel are sanded and
painted with a Premium Grade 
"Permanent Rust Sealer"  " Stops rust on  contact "
More rust protection for rear section.
Round spare wheel-well (center) has plenty of undercoating.
.
Driver's side floor and frame gets painted with
      " Permanent Rust Sealer. "
Passenger side is in great shape, and does not need rust sealer; just some wire brushing and added 
Undercoating & Sealer  which contains 
Petroleum Asphalt.
The gas filler area gets some gray primer.
Spots where the undercoat protection came off,
the gas tank gets sanded and a zinc rich primer
is applied; then..
 ...covered with petroleum asphalt undercoating.
Both rocker panels and  the very bottom part of the rear quarter-panels, are sanded and ...
...then get a coat of rust preventative primer.
... for now I have decided to use these Pontiac "Grand-Am" modern bucket seats 
with adjustable headrest. 
Bucket seats recline all the way back and  are adjustable forward ...
... these bucket seats are in excellent shape,
and received  four washings last summer.
I have decided to leave the fabric (blue with orange modern design), as is, to match the "royal blue leather" of future side panels and rear seat.
Just the underside needs attention...
...black leatherette is form fitted with spray glue.
new leatherette is weighted down for 24 hours...
... also the manual rails get freshened up
with black paint.
 ...after the paint dried on the  manual rails, I installed the driver's side bucket seat. (...for now without the 
new carpeting.) I designed/manufactured new copper cover for  brake master cylinder access- bottom left.
The Pontiac GrandAm  bucket seats, (decided to keep the head rest) I restored to new condition...
...so while work is continuing, this seat needs a protective cover.
My attention turns to the 35 year old custom made,  heavy  grade, aluminum transmission cover.
I have decided to refine ...
this great fitting cover  just slightly, by taking some of the sharp edges off, and, sanding, cleaning and painting. [...and replace those slotted-head screws
with the Phillips type screws.]
Transmission cover's sharp edges are rounded with
a metal cutter, then filed,  then sanded smooth.
This also applies to the brake master cylinder cover.
Both are...
...then painted with  "Red Oxide Primer", and, while this is drying...
...this '60's Jeep stick-on-the-floor  transmission
(see Eric Gordon's 1954 Kaiser Convertible conversion) surrounding access-metal needs attention... 
 ... and the sharp  access-metal  edges are cut  with a metal saber saw... (wetness is from engine cleaner solution).
...filed smooth, and then several coats of 
primer paint are applied.
Metal-access to transmission is fitted with a safety grommet. (actually door fittings from a '71 Peugeot)
 The inside opening of the transmission cover is protected with a rubber grommet. (actually window treatment from a '71 Peugeot)
Painted transmission cover is fastened with Phillips screws. Floor shift  gets "dressed" with a boot-cover from a GrandAm-Pontiac.
Newly painted brake-master-cylinder-cover is also fastened to floor with new Phillips screws.
 The  stick-on-the-floor shift knob is from a  Grand-AM Pontiac. (I will later decide what to do with the dangling wire)
  ....also, this Grand-AM stick shift "knob"
is custom-leather hand-stitched.  This "knob" even has two built in  electronic on/off buttons. These  "ergonomic knobs" have come a long way in design when one would just place a chrome ball on top 
of the floor shift handle.
Steering wheel covers also changed in their various designs. This rare blue one I found at a recent discount store sale. It will be one of the very last items to be installed . 
The car has been taken to Barry's Garage for some mechanical work by the new owner Craig and
is now refining  also some of the "Body Work"
that he has the specialized tools and know-how for
Door locks are removed...
..and then  "shaved" , taken out completely 
and welded shut.
Right and...
...left  >previous pillar openings<  are also welded shut with a steel cap. 
Craig's shop is also  doing some cutting that I need
in the new Fleetwood rear side panel.
Old side panel on top, light blue. 
New side panel  royal blue.
It is not too early to start thinking about paint.
The Convertible will definitely  be painted again:
in a metallic blue?  Which one? 
There are many, many choices !
Waiting for a new door latch, driver's side...
Replacement door latch arrived  in 36 hours,
all the way from a California Kaiser parts supplier !
Striker Plates are A-OK !
...and this near-new driver's side door latch 
is now  installed
...besides door latches, some other body
work needs attention.
The broken right side 25 inch  "top o' the fender"  tail/marker light needs to be replaced.
After partial  tail-light {counting 18  parts, including screws and lock-washers-rubber gaskets; all installed by hand in 1954, no machines} is removed, one can still see,  and  feel...
...the "finer than baking powder" Nevada desert dust from over 30 years ago.
On a recent European vacation I managed to purchase 
-at 70 % off - (top left) a large amount of fasteners, bolts, screws, washers, etc.  from a HomeDepot type store named "Baumarkt & Garten." 
This store's property had become to valuable on a car-dealer's boulevard ...

'54 Kaiser "top o' the fender" lenses come in a right and left side.
{They are after-market lenses, indistinguishable from the '54 original.}

Major components of the "top o' the fender" ...
...the chrome (bottom left)  fin....
The two foot "top o' the fender" lenses and the
cleverly engineered one foot (not shown) , added on tail light, gives  Kaiser the largest "rear light" in automotive history, visible from the rear, side and even the driver's rear-view mirror on the inside.
Kaiser's '54 chrome tip is also the first "real automotive designed fin, "that started the "finny race" which culminated with the "monster fins" of the '59 Cadillac Convertible."
 The top light bulb sockets (there are 2 for each light)
 get a complete ...
...makeover/refurbishing before refastening to the
  thoughtfully engineered interior of the chrome fin.
 {Newly purchased lock-washers come in handy}.
Old paint was protected by the top o' the fender light-bar...
...and now a new lense is  installed;
   the entire light is just shy of 3 feet.
Passenger side rear interior panel is installed.
Originally from a Cadillac Fleetwood limousine.
Side panel with top folded down
Convertible top-shop will incorporate "sleeve-like" cover into the snap on convertible-top "boot-cover".  The color  of this "boot-cover " is still undecided.
And now driver's side rear interior panel is fitted. 
(tear will be corrected later)
Floor thoroughly cleaned, then primer paint was used to touch up scratches and imperfections, and
now ready for...
... gray floor padding, which needs to be cut and  fitted.
The  "back"  of the back seat is refurbished,
and then...
...gets a neutral interior gray carpeting cover
 ...while the convertible-frame "cradle : wheelwell to wheelwell" area is getting...
...a "test - fitting"  for a matching royal blue leatherette covering. { When my car is ready to be painted, entire interior: seats-panels-rugs-rubber-weatherseals, and even the all metal convertible top frame must be removed first.}
Entire Fleetwood  backrest taken apart,  carefully ,
 to  ...
... show  the  auto upholstery shop the desired pattern for the back seat. Old light blue leatherette seat is in background. (Perhaps the pattern will be usable for
the new seat?)
Meanwhile the convertible top's passenger side
"cradle" ...
...gets also fitted  with the new royal blue leatherette covering.
Previously designed Chinese trunk carpet fits partially
into the Convertible top area.
Gray  carpet <leaning on trunk> is custom fitted as....
 ... the very back of the convertible top-down  "cradle,"
and when top is up, <flexible curtain> this area can also be used as storage/luggage area.
And now the trunk area...
...gets custom fitted with gray Fleetwood trunk-side carpeting. Spare tire and tools are stored under the oriental carpet in a large round compartment with a metal lid  > underneath the carpet medallion<...
...amazing how the Cadillac's trunk's gray side carpeting all fits into the Kaiser's trunk with just 
a few cuts in the right places.
Kaiser cars have aluminum door sills,
 they are easy ...
 ....to restore, using a fine wire brush...carefully, and then some brillo scouring pads.
I changed my mind...and  NOT  use a store bought carpet, instead, I  decided to use this 9 X12 persian carpet in my convertible...
This carpet has been with me for the last 35 years: 
it is part of my life !
Therefore... it gets an intensive cleaning, including several rinses with a high-pressure water machine.
It has lain in my living room in California:
2 studio apartments in Manhattan;
an extension in my  mother's house in New Jersey;
in a loft apartment at a Connecticut Country Inn where
I worked for 25 years; and finally,  here  in
a garage under my 4 door Kaiser Manhattan.
Some of the damaged  parts were cut out, and there is
just enough good, silky-smooth carpet left over for the
approximate 6 X 8 foot convertible interior floor area...
Passenger side front trim panel...
...and driver's side are installed.  Including a new pad for the brake pedal.
Hi-Lo headlight switch is on the floor,  center left; 
and extreme left <on front door-post> serial number plate K 542  002380 Kaiser Motors Corp. Toledo, Ohio  USA  is visible.
This midnight blue painted under-dash heater duct...
...does not need refurbishing, the 1975 MBZ color
held up, here in this spot,  very well.
Manual transmission lever also gets a gray leatherette "boot." {Chrome handle is one of Kaiser's safety features...to have the emergency brake on the right side of  the steering column}
(Chrome floor button (center) is HI - Lo light switch) 
Fleetwood "scuff guards" are modified to fit...
...door corners and aluminum door sills.
Passenger side "scuff guard" is even fitted
 with a handy removable storage pouch.
While the driver's side door sill is refurbished,
and gets new scuff guards also.
A car show "swap-meet" brand new day/night mirror is
bought for only $ 5.- and installed;  and also,...
...I fitted my persian carpet.
The technology of seat construction since 1954 has definitely improved.
90's Fleetwood bench seat fits Kaiser floor anchors
perfectly...
 ...with some minor adjustments from a 4 lb hammer;
and carpeting;  as seen in this close-up
<center of photo> ...meanwhile...
...the rear anchors needed some custom made brackets
 to fasten the bench-rear onto the body.
I changed my mind again,  and decided to upholster the
entire back seat myself . This includes the  backrest,
and therefore, not use the old Kaiser spring type heavy-metal backrest ...
 ... >even after refurbishing and painting it<  ...
...  and replace the Kaiser backrest for the
  Fleetwood "solid- foam-type" cushions. 
"Foam" is only 1/5 th  the weight, laced  throughout with flexible metal supports, more comfortable,  and does not squeak.
...I completely disassemble the Fleetwood backrest into
 three parts  1)  metal frame
                   2) "solid - foam "  with metal guides
                   3) "tuck and roll"  leather  covering.
... and since the Cadillac back rest  "tuck and roll "
leather covering needs to be modified,  for some
cutting and stitching, I found ...
...Andy's "one stitch at a time" Auto Upholstery in 
New London  - is very helpful, after an agreed upon price.
 Mark, who is celebrating Andy's Trim Shop's 
50th anniversary this year 2007, rushed the "one stitch at a time" through in only one day...
And as predicted above, the leather is very
 usable after I re-assemble the seat, using ....
...copper rings (hog rings) and squeeze-pliers,
 by attaching the leather to the seat frame.

    A small  "new tools" investment ...>including the large red handled wire cutters< for the "on the job self-training" and satisfaction of knowing basic upholstery making.

          So, here is the new look of the....

.... backseat....
          ...when it is finally installed.
And now the front seats area, especially the...
...front door panels.  Matching Fleetwood scuff carpeting are sewn on by "One Stitch at a Time - Andy's Auto Upholstery"...
  ... free of charge... I then  trim the bottom door carpeting and fasten it with screws to the door frame.   While ...
  ...the top metal door frame gets renewed  (see "Phase II" how I buy the missing part and then graft TWO metal frames into ONE door frame again),
 painted and re-installed. 

 also the door panel's carpeting is fastened here
 with "hidden" screws.

 I also refurbish -clean and paint - the rather unique 
 '53 Buick - door handles.
 Each handle is a door closer as well as an elbow / armrest.  The passenger...
...side window / door-frame will get some corrective paint when the convertible is being painted....
 ...here the new matching Fleetwood scuff-carpeting 
is completed.
 '92 Pontiac Grand-Am front-bucket-seats are  installed including new royal blue floormats...with matching....
...Cadillac - Fleetwood seatbelts ...
      that gets fastened...
... to the steel  floor with large anchor-washers.
The '52 Caddy convertible top frame ...
...is folded into the "down" position.
    While a top of the ladder photo...
...shows the reworked rear leather seat of a '92 Caddy Fleetwood;  revealing ...
...a near two foot leg room space...
...>actually a limousine size space< while the front seats are placed in a normal position.
  ...and finally the driver-side chrome door and window
  handles are installed, including...
...the passenger-side door handles.

Use the links below to continue viewing the various stages of the reconstruction


Coming Home
Under the Hood
Wiring
Mechanical
Items
The Convertible Top
Phase II

 
 
Links
John's Old Car and Truck Pictures
Historic Aircraft Pictures
A Deck of Cards showing
The 1952 cars of The World
Eric Gordon's Kaiser Rebuild
There are many pictures showing the details of this Rebuild
Eric Gordon's First Kaiser
A 1951 Deluxe which comes to a startling end
Visit our Home in Summerville Nova Scotia. This house was built in 1873.
Where we live and what we  do
The Early Harley-Davidson Motorcycles
The Model T Ford and Model A Ford
The Model A Ford
Click here to View the Famous Chevy Tri-Five 55, 56 and 57 Chevrolets
The Chevy Tri-Five
55, 56 and 57 Chevrolets
The Chevrolet Corvette
From 1963 to 1970
Don Pate's 1947 Chevy Aero Sedan 
View the rebuilding of this car from the
bullet holes to the trophy winning
The Early American Sporty Cars
The Oshkosh The Truck that all other only dream of becoming
The Oshkosh 
The Truck of Trucks
The Divco Truck
America's Milk Truck
A Picture Review of
the Ford Mustang

The Cars Dreams are made of
Those Old Classic Convertibles
Cadillac, Duesenberg, Cords and many more
Anthony Hazelaar's Model Trucks and Cars
Yes you can get a Jeep stuck, Really stuck if you just half try.
Have a look and see how a 
Jeep can get really stuck
A Picture Review of the Cars
of the Chrysler Corporation
A Picture Review of the Studebaker 
If you remember it, could you
ever forget it ?
A Picture review of the Packard
A Picture review of the Nash and Hudson
A Picture Tour of the
Hudson, Essex, and Terraplanes
that were found in Australia
A Picture Review of the
Pickup Truck from 1940 to 1969
A Picture review of the Volkswagen
A Picture Review of the Jeep
from 1940 to the present
A Picture Tour of the Crosley
A Picture Review of the Chevrolet
from 1916 to 1970
The Corvair 1960 to 1969
A Picture Review of the Ford
from 1908 to 1969
The Oldsmobile
The Pontiac
The Cadillac
Wouldn't you rather have a Buick
Wouldn't you rather have a Buick
The Chrysler Airflow
The Tucker '48'
The Amphicar
A Picture Tour of the Henry J
A Picture Tour of the Kaiser Frazer
The Stanley Steamer
View some of John Evan's  Artwork
View some of John' Evan's Auto Artwork 
Click here to View the Jeeps of World War II
WW II Jeeps
James Rucker's Car Collection
A website featuring many articles on many different cars
If you can't find it anywhere else, try here and
if you can't find it here it isn't anywhere
Jim's Old Car Page
A good page for Kaiser information
  View the steam locomotives of the CNR
  Another fun page involving a Jeep
 Tour the 64 remaining Covered Bridges
  of New Brunswick
The Covered Bridges that once dotted Nova Scotia.
If any one is interested in Microsoft's Flight Simulator I have written some scenery files for Summerville. Maitland, Windsor and Hantsport.
Summerville now has an Airport
 
 
E Mail
johnmacdoanld@summerville-novascotia.com

 
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