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Owner's Manuals

How should I use this bumper jack to change a flat? What is the proper indicated oil pressure at a road speed of 50 mph? How often should the front wheel bearings be serviced? These and similar questions are probably answered in the owner's manual for your car. So this time our collectibles are more than something to find and collect--they can be useful to us in enjoying our cars.

Now you may have no interest at all in collecting paper items for K-F cars--but I think everyone should attempt to at least get the proper owner's manual for their K-F product. If nothing else the manual can make a nice addition when showing your car. And as already indicated the manual might even be useful.

In this Collector's Corner I plan to point out what manuals were published for the various K-F products and indicate something about the availability and prices. Some manuals are readily available at a reasonable price and some are very rare and are priced accordingly.

Manuals for the 1947-1948 Kaisers and Frazers are easily found in like new condition for around $10 or so. As far as I know the same manual served for both years. These measure 4 1/2 x 6 inches (all sizes will be given in inches and the first number is measured from the bound edge). The Frazer manual (publication number 706656) has yellow and red covers and 30 pages (all page numbers include covers). The Kaiser manual (publication number 707617) has blue and yellow covers and 32 pages. According to Ray Tomb, early Frazers came with a manual with the designation Graham-Paige Motors that was otherwise identical to the Kaiser-Frazer issued manual. I have never seen one of these but Ray tells me they are not "rare." Based on my experience I expect you may have to pay a few dollars more for one of these. Ray also tells me that these manuals were supplied to the customer by the dealer and were presented in an envelope along with a service policy, owner's card, and radio and air conditioner instructions (if the car was so equipped).

Two versions of the 1949 Kaiser manual exist. These both measure 6 x 9 inches and have green and white covers with the buffalo K crest. The first version with part number 731101(no date) consists of 52 pages plus a color lubrication chart foldout. The second version has the same part number but is dated January 5, 1949, and includes a section on the Convertible and Virginian. It has 76 pages. Both of these can be found for around $15-25. These originally were presented to the car owner in a green folder along with service policy, owner's card, and air conditioner and radio instructions.

I am aware of only one version of the 1949 Frazer manual. It measures 6 x 9 inches and has blue and white covers along with a color rendition of the Frazer crest. The part number is 731103 and it has 52 pages along with foldouts of the dashboard and the lubrication chart. This one can be found in the $15-25 range. A blue folder was used for presentation along with the usual service policy, owner's card, and radio and air conditioner instructions.

Two versions of the 1950 Kaiser manual are known. These only have very minor differences from the two 1949 versions. The covers are now black and white with the buffalo K crest including some green (and this crest is now the same design as used on the 1951 Kaiser) and an inside illustration of Willow Run is now in black and white rather than color. Both have the part number 707617, date December 1949, and Prasp No. 1949209. Prices and availability are about same as the 1949.

The 1950 Frazer manual is very similar to the 1949 version. The only external difference is the 1950 cover date. The part number is 707615 with December 1949 date. The Prasp No. is the same as the Kaiser versions. The Willow Run illustration is black and white here also. This one is our first "rarity." Ray says it is very difficult to find--I was just lucky I guess because I found one before I knew they were rare! Expect to pay around $50 for this one if you can find it.

The 1951 Kaiser manual measures 7 3/4 x 7 1/4 inches and has grey, green, and black covers. It has 40 pages plus foldouts of the dashboard and a lubrication chart. The part number is 734112. The inside front cover has holders for the service policy and owner's identification card. Air conditioner, radio, and hydra-matic instructions were included as required. This one is usually available at around $15-25.

The 1951 Frazer manual is 6 x 9 inches and has red, black, and white covers. The 36 page manual has part number 734111 and is dated April 1950. These are also readily available at around $20-25. These were originally presented to the new car buyer in a blue folder along with air conditioner, radio, and hydra-matic instructions as required.

The 1951 Henry J manual is not a manual at all in the conventional sense but instead is a sort of "road map" to the car. The map unfolds to a two-sided sheet measuring 21 x 24 inches. It carries the part number 740343 and is rose, black, and white. It originally came in an envelope along with a service policy and owner's card. The envelope has part number 740577. Radio and air conditioner instructions were available as needed. These manuals are almost always found in an original envelope--this is probably because most owners probably hid them from public view that way. Good used examples can be found for $5 or so and mint ones run $15 or so.

The grey, blue, and black 1952 Kaiser Virginian manual is very similar to the 1951 Kaiser item in both size and contents. The dashboard and lubrication charts are not foldouts but printed as regular pages. There are 40 pages and the part number is 735518. This one is fairly easy to find at around $15-25.

The "real" 1952 Kaiser manual is almost identical to the Virginian manual except for the grey and maroon colors for the cover and the use of drawings that show the new features of these cars. The part number is 735603. Availability and prices are about the same as for the Virginian.

The 1952 Henry J Vagabonds evidently used the same manual as the 1951 Henry J.

The "real" 1952 Henry J came with the same type manual as used in 1951--colors are now blue, black, and white with part number 740988. The illustrations show the new features of the cars. The matching blue, black, and white envelope has part number 740987 and included service policy and owner's card along with air conditioner and radio instructions as required. Prices run from $5 to $15.

I have never seen the 1952 Allstate manual but Ray Tomb describes it as having red, black, and white covers and 20 pages. It measures 5 x 7 inches with part number RF28-99996. These came in an envelope with service policy and owner's card plus air conditioner and radio instructions as required. A rare item--if you find one and can afford it, you should grab it because you probably will not find another.

The 1953 Kaiser manual follows the same design format established in the 1951 manual. The covers are rust, grey, black, and white. The part number is 735784 and the one in my collection is labeled as a 2nd Edition--whether there are any differences from the first edition I am unable to say. It has 36 pages and includes service policy and owner's card. Air conditioner, radio, and hydramatic instructions were included as required. I have not seen so many of these at Kaiser meets or listed by literature dealers but you should not have too much trouble finding one for around $25.

The 1953 Henry J finally merited a real manual rather than a "map." The blue, black, and white item has 32 pages and the part number is 740880. The back cover has slots for the service policy and owner's card. Air conditioner and radio instructions were included as required. These are not as easy to find as the 1951 or 1952 items but are not rare. Price should be around $15-20.

I have never seen a 1953 Allstate manual, but Ray Tomb's description for it is the same as the 1952 version except the cover is orange, black, and white. Pay what they want for it if you can find one.

The year 1954 required three different Kaiser manuals for the three unique models offered--the Early Special, the Manhattan, and the Late Special.

The Early Special manual is a make-over of the 1953 manual. The only changes are in the illustrations that show the trim changes made on the leftover 1953 Manhattans to convert them to Specials. The manual has 36 pages and grey, green, black, and white covers. The part number is 745577. There is no indication that this manual is for a unique model but illustrations show the dashboard from the 1953 Manhattan.

The Manhattan manual is green, black, and white and has 40 pages. The outside measurements continue the pattern established in 1951. The part number is 745634 and the copy in my collection has a 1st Edition imprint as well. The usual service policy and owner's card are included.

The Late Special manual has the 1954 Kaiser Special imprint on the blue, black, and white cover. This manual is almost identical to the Manhattan manual, but of course does not have a description of the supercharger. There is no part number on the 40 page manual. Service policy and owner's card are included. My copy has a 1st Edition imprint.

Due to the popularity of the 1954 models and the fairly low production, these manuals are getting harder to find. But you still should find them for something around $25-45, with the Manhattan at the high end.

The 1954 Henry J manual is pretty much a carbon copy of the 1953 except for the red, black, and white covers. It does use the Kaiser Motors Corporation designation rather than Kaiser-Frazer and has the Kaiser Willys Approved Service sign on rear cover. These are not real common and probably will run $20-30 if you find one.

If you have a 1954 Darrin manual consider yourself fortunate. The red, grey, black, and white covered manual measures 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches and has 44 pages. This one has been reprinted at least twice that I know about. The first time was as Volume 3 Number 4 (December 1963) of the Quarterly. There is no mistaking this as a reprint and it is about as hard to find as an original manual. A few years ago a club member printed 100 copies of the manual. I never saw any of these but I have heard it was an excellent printing job. It was clearly labeled as a reprint. If you find an original manual don't quibble about the price. It will at least be cheaper than the car. An early version of the Darrin manual supposedly was printed with no illustrations. It was to be replaced by the full version when it became available. Has anyone seen one of these?

The 1955 Kaiser Manhattan manual is a direct copy of the 1954 manual except for the date change and the deletion of the part number. My copy is imprinted with the 1st Edition label and a 1955 copyright. This is another rare one and will run you $50 or more.

Copies of manuals for the Carabela surface from time to time. I have never seen any of these. Ray Tomb describes the 1961 issue as having 56 pages with blue, red, and white covers. It measures 8 x 5 1/4 inches. These are in Spanish. I guess if you have a Carabela you should have one of these.

A word about prices. The prices I list are intended only as a guide. You have to decide what you are willing to pay and then find someone that is willing to sell for that price! My only advice is the same that I have given before--if you don't know literature, be sure you know the seller.

Good luck in your search for manuals.

This article was originally published in slightly different form as the Collector's Corner feature in the Quarterly Vol 30 No 1. Prices have been revised from the list given in the original article.

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