Eric Gordon's 1954 Kaiser
Convertible Conversion




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
ERIC GORDON, Writer, Editor, Publisher of Aigle Books, Place ST. Georges, Paris, France  GIVES HEREBY
PERMISSION: for John MacDonald- "Sympatico Mail" <> and ,sharon@summerville- 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.


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


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

Refurbishing and replacing the Mechanical Items

New brake parts:
Master cylinder, wheel cylinders and brake shoes
Close-up of new wheel cylinders
Master brake cylinder access :
..somewhat awkward location below floor 
near gas pedal !
Mechanical items...
such as this extremely rare to find NOS ignition switch and keys are bought  through members of 
the Kaiser club.

Through  "e-bay"  in the internet  > really an amazing search and purchase  tool< I am able to buy a needed  near-new  inside door handle from Ontario, Canada
for only  $12.00.

 I removed the fuel pump ...
and  this pump needs to be thoroughly checked out.
To be replaced ? .. or just "clogged up" and needs  cleaning ?
The fuel pump needs cleaning and new parts...
wire shows connecter plug completely clogged...
...pump needs cleaning...
...and new parts...
Besides thorough cleaning, the fuel pump needs 
to be tested...
besides the outside...
...sludge is visible through outlet to carburetor.
... wire through copper connector shows "sludge"...
...interior seals of pump & diaphragm have totally deteriorated...
and need  refurbishing...
 Fuel pump was completely refurbished and tested 
by Bassett Automotive near Deerfield, Ma.
 I then gave it a coat of blue engine paint,
 ( seen here drying from a tree branch ) .
However, the mounting area of the fuel pump needs special attention, since pump  is....
 ....fastened with 2 studs.
Each having a shorter thread for fastening to engine,
then a space - for fuel pump casing -
and then a longer thread for fastening of the fuel pump.
The threads were switched  around. The longer portion sticking 1/2 inch into the engine and  I was unable to remove them. 
I purchased a socket style stud extractor to remove lodged-in studs  >left in photo<  without damage to threads....
 A contributing factor to the fuel pump problems 
could be this "insulator hose" reaching from the filler neck-tube to the fuel tank.
This hose has started to emulsify and gets to be replaced. ...see dark spot >seeping gas< in middle 
of photo.
The gas tank gets drained to remove "emulsifying"
insulation connector hose, therefore the                        convertible's rear wheels get raised to these ramps.
.....and finally reinstalled the fuel pump.
Kaiser gas tank has a handy drain plug...
... for service and repair of gas tank.
    Fuel is drained. 
Severely damaged insulator-hose is fastened to gas tank
with  a slotted screw facing upward !

                There is only one solution ...

...drill a hole through the trunk floor
 >center of photo< large enough  for...
...a slotted long-shaft screwdriver to pass through,
...remove the deteriorating hose section, along with the old tech outdated clamp and screw.
Lots of  WD-40, a lubricant and "loosener," helps in this task.  Patience is also a requirement.
Modern auto gas-tanks and filler tubes are manufactured and
installed as one piece. Two out of three top auto-parts chain
stores no longer carry the larger 2 and 1/4  inch  hose needed
for my gas tank to filler tube connection.
I finally did purchase the correct rubber hose that is "gas-resistant including some brass fittings and updated clamps.
Lots of scraping and sanding is needed to start restoring
the gasoline  " filler tube", including...
...a coat of primer paint... seen here drying.
Then cap and filler tube get several coats of "High Heat" red paint, including  2 applications of "clear coat" engine enamel. 
Both paints are gas resistant.
After this dried, a new gas resistant insulation hose, with modern clamps, gets installed between the inlet of the gas tank and the refurbished red filler tube.
Then, the newly installed fuel lines are removed and cleaned
once more from "gunk" that was still in gas tank.
 NOS (new old stock)  2 inch diameter tail and exhaust pipes, and, a muffler ordered from a "Kaiser Parts Specialist" arrive from Iowa. They are in excellent condition...

These items will have to be installed by Craig Perry's custom shop. {Local muffler shops will not install outside parts}.

Both, exhaust pipe and ...
...tailpipe get sanded, cleaned and then...
...tailpipe gets painted  black with " Hi-Heat with ceramic " 1200 degrees...
 "dyno heat tested" paint; and the exhaust pipe
with the same kind of paint only in red.
The muffler gets painted white with a "high-heat" engine paint .
Local towing company uses a "flatbed truck"  to
move my convertible to Mario's "Lisbon Tires"
 ~a "full service auto repair shop" ~ now housed in the....
 ...former DMV (dept of motor vehicles) inspection station;
including a sturdy flag-post, seen here on the right.
Four years ago the State of Connecticut left the motor vehicle
inspection process and turned over the  " exhaust-emission"  to
private garages.
Lisbon Tire auto repair did not sign up for this with the State of Ct.
However, they are a complete automotive repair shop.
None of the  3 various muffler  installation chain stores are willing to
install  "outside material"  (see pipes on right).
Lisbon Tire, however,  are prepared to  work with ....
.... the tail and exhaust pipes and muffler which I supplied from a Kaiser Club  (a good reason to be part of this antique club)
parts supplier in Iowa.
Exhaust pipe is being "test-fitted" to the exhaust manifold
...while  here exhaust pipe and manifold fitting gets some extra  needed finishing touches of some bending and welding...
...finally the finished exhaust pipe is installed then the
new muffler and...
... the  new exhaust pipe.
  A brand new exhaust system.
My convertible is now placed in a winter shelter,
awaiting warmer climates!
 The trunk was "shaved" meaning no outside  locks or handles or openings or lettering/names... trunk is opened from the inside with a hood pull  while the trunk lock mechanicals are revised for this change over. 
All  trunk lock items cleaned, painted and lubricated with graphite.
New mechanical changes :   now pull-cable's revised mechanicals >center of mechanism < shows  most important 1/2 inch copper cable-stop
Trunk locking mechanism now re-installed, pull cable top-right ...
...while trunk cable pull handle gets installed on top of driver's side wheel-well; and is reachable with top-up
or top-down from rear seat.
The trunk lock striker is refurbished, painted and remounted on the rear floor pan.
Shims and large washers are placed between the striker and floor pan to raise the striker for proper lock operation.
Needed parts, such as this clamp on mirr was found at the local car show's "swap-meet >vendors selling used and new parts< ". It is a very close match to the '54 Kaiser clamp-on original....
       ....  back then an accessory,  today mandatory.
Needed new hood hinges are found and bought. 
They will be installed after the car is painted.
This includes ...
...brand new  door and trunk rubber weatherstrips.
These too will be installed after painting and before
the convertible top gets fitted.

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

Coming Home
Body Work
Under the Hood
The Convertible Top
Phase II

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

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