Over the past couple months, Marjorie and I have surveyed two large collections under the Kaiser name: the papers of Henry J. Kaiser (Banc MSS 83/42; 329 cartons, 194 volumes), and those of his son Edgar F. Kaiser (Banc MSS 85/61; 500 cartons and 32 volumes).
While I tend to consider many corporate records less than thrilling, there were some surprisingly colorful finds inside these collections, if one looked deep enough.
The following images are from the Edgar F. Kaiser papers (Banc MSS 85/61, volume 25) and show a 1957 marketing proposal booklet for their automobile line that highlights potential uses of colorized aluminum for the interiors and exteriors of cars. Earlier in the 1940s and early 1950s Kaiser had teamed up with Frazer and Darrin to produce a handful of car models, stylish classics that can still occasionally be found today (look around for the Kaiser "Virginian," "Manhattan," the "Special", and my personal favorite, the "Dragon" hardtop convertible!). These cars were never made, aluminum being a questionable choice of material for this purpose-- is anyone else thinking, "What about dents?!"-- and Kaiser had ceased production in earnest around 1955.
Still, if you love mid-century modern design like I do, you'll get a kick of out some of these car designs. Note how the car models are named after different California cities and landmarks. How lovely to be driving around town in a "Piedmont..."
This is a page of sample colors and textures that could be put on the interior of the car, in such places as doors, dash, foot panel, etc.
Personally, the pink swirls and the turquoise beehive would go great with, well, nothing in my own utilitarian car, but hey a girl can dream.
Behold, the "Golden Gate," a station wagon with lots and lots of window...
The "Del Mar," roomy and zoomy- check out the space-age trunk of this metal behemoth!
And finally, the "Merced." Looks like a fun ride to me!
(Other models can be seen in this volume of the collection. The artist was not noted anywhere in the document. Part 2 to come in July.)