Friday, August 1, 2014
Most radical automotive designs came from the drafting boards of the independent auto manufacturers, the ones less beholden to static corporate ideals and stockholder skepticism. Kaiser, in particular, was known for its memorable and daring designs. In the late 1940's, Detroit's Big Three were still pushing to meet post-war demands, so they had little free time to create new and different cars; they relied on retooling established sales leaders.
Unencumbered by such restrictions, Kaiser engineers of the time designed a four-door sedan with a rear "trunk" door that, when open, and with the rear seat folded down, transformed the interior into a large cargo area. Thus, it was innovative Kaiser that gets full credit for an automotive first with its Traveler and Vagabond hatchback sedans.Our feature Vagabond, owned by Tucson, Arizona, resident Tom Mulligan, is a first-year 1949 model, which was part of the DeLuxe line of Kaisers featuring upscale trim; the Traveler was part of the Special lineup. Produced for just two model years, the Vagabond name was dropped with the introduction of the redesigned 1951 models; the company opted to keep the more popular Traveler name in both the Special and DeLuxe series.