Graham-Paige Motors Corporation
1927-1947- As Graham-Paige
1947-1952 - As Kaiser-Frazer Corporation
1952-1953 - As Kaiser Motors
1953-1963 - As Kaiser-Willys Corporation
1963-1970 - As Kaiser Jeep Corporation (Purchased by American Motors)
Rest in Peace
page updated on 9-30-2016.
This is an interesting and
convoluted story of a small vehicle manufacturer that stopped production
of automobiles in 1940 with the limited production of the Graham
Hollywood after only 1,378 were built. While this great looking
automobile (See Below.) had plenty of initial orders plant production
problems prevented the filling of the customer orders and most were
cancelled. Production was stopped on the Hollywood and the plant
closed. However, it quickly opened back up and started on war
contracts, with a good percentage of its plant being leased to Chrysler
and the remaining for its own war output.
(DeSoto Division of
Chrysler leased Graham-Paige's West Warren Avenue Plant in Detroit
for the first war contracts taken on by the Chrysler Corporation.
Starting before the US became involved in WWII, DeSoto began with the
construction of Martin B-26 rear fuselages. Later it would build
Curtiss SB2C Helldiver wing center sections in the plant along with
forward end fuselages for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. In 1946
Chrysler bought the plant and it became the DeSoto Warren Plant.)
After WWII in 1947 the
automobile portion of Graham-Paige was sold to what became Kaiser-Frazer
Corporation that started up car production in the Ford Willow Run, MI,
WWII B-24 Bomber Plant. This, like most of the factories built or
added on to for WWII production were financed by the US Government and
its taxpayers. No longer needed by Ford, the government took the
plant back and then sold it to the new Kaiser-Frazer Corporation.
Production of Kaisers and Frazers ran at Willow Run until 1953, when it
shifted to Toledo at what had been Willys-Overland. Mr. Kaiser and
Mr. Frazer had a dispute in 1948 and Mr. Frazer quit as president of the
company with the Frazer nameplate running until 1951. In 1953 the
company became the Kaiser Motors Corporation and then when it purchased
Willys-Overland later in 1953 it renamed itself again, this time as
Willys Corporation and moved production of the Kaiser to Toledo, OH for
its last two years of production. The last Kaiser was a 1955
After 1947 the remaining
non-automotive portion of Graham-Paige invested in real estate and in
1962 changed its name to Madison Square Garden Corporation.
Graham-Paige also produced
and coined the name Rototiller, which is now synonymous with many
manufacturers' garden implements for tilling the soil in home gardens.
A 1941 Graham Hollywood Supercharged as seen
at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, IN.
This was a very nice looking car, but production issues in the plant
lead to its demise. Author's photo.
There were (1,378) built at a cost of $1,250 in
It was the last vehicle produced by the company before WWII and also the
last Graham vehicle produced.
Graham-Paige won the Army-Navy "E" Award once during WWII.
Graham-Paige World War Two /
WWII Production Numbers: (A portion of 1,225 from 1941-1943) LVT-1s,
(A portion of 2,963 from 1942-1944) LVT-2s, (A portion of 8,448 from
1943-1945) LVT-4s, precision machined parts
for both Packard 4M2500 marine engines and Packard built Rolls-Royce
V-1650 Merlin aircraft engines, precision machined parts for torpedoes.
(The nearest torpedo manufacturer was Pontiac Motor Division of GM.)
To date I have not been able
to find production for the individual companies that built the
LVT-1,2,and 4 during WWII. Only total production numbers are known
and this is why I can only say a portion of the total number for each of
these was built by Graham-Page during WWII.
LVT-1 - (1,225) were
built by FMC, subcontractor
for Roeburg which invented the LVT concept, Graham-Paige and St. Louis Car
from 1941-1943. First application of this type was used at Guadalcanal.
It did not have a ramp.
LVT-2 - (2,963) were
constructed by FMC, Graham-Paige,
Ingersoll and St. Louis Car from 1942-1944. This one did not have
a ramp either.
LVT-4 - (8,448) were
produced by FMC, Graham-Paige, and St. Louis Car
from 1943-1945. This had a rear ramp that allowed the troops
to exit and also allowed the vehicles to carry a jeep or small truck.
There are very limited
references to Graham-Paige making parts for marine and aircraft engine
and torpedoes. I have assumed that because the Graham-Paige plant
on West Warren in Detroit, MI was just a couple of miles from the
Packard plant that it supplied parts for the Packard built 4M42500
Marine Engine and the Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin V-1850.
Also, Pontiac Motor Division of GM produced aerial torpedoes to the
north of Detroit in Pontiac, MI. So the assumption is that the
torpedo parts were for that location.
Graham-Paige won the highly coveted Army-Navy "E for Excellence" Award
during WWII. This period advertisement shows the award. The
company would not have been able to use this in the ad unless it had won
Graham-Paige built a portion of the1,225
LVT-1's that were built from 1941 to 1943. This diorama at the
National Museum of the USMC depicts a LVT-1 going over a log barricade
at Tarawa. Author's photo added 9-30-2016.
This and the following photo show that the rear is a solid piece with no
ramp. The Marines had to go over the side as shown here and jump
down eight feet to the sand. Author's photo added 9-30-2016.
Author's photo added 9-30-2016.
This is a 1945 LVT-4 "Water Buffalo" that
was built by St. Louis Car, one of the two other manufacturers of this
type besides Graham-Paige. And this one is a movie star, having been
used in the 2005 movie "Flags of our Fathers". Author's photo from
the 2014 Portland, IN Military Vehicle Show.
Note the internal and external armament.
While this is not a Graham-Paige built unit, it does show the huge size
and complexity of building this landing craft. Author's photo
The LVT-4 was the first in the series to
have a ramp. On the LVT-1 and 2 the soldiers and marines had to
make a eight foot jump over the side to get out. And small
vehicles could not be carried as on this type. Author's photo.
The LVT-4 was powered by a Continental
R-670-9A seven cylinder radial aircraft engine producing 250 hp. The
radial engines, being originally designed to operate at relatively
constant speeds for aircraft, did not work out well when having to
constantly change RPMs when being shifted through the five speeds of the
Spicer transmission. Author's photo.
The driver's station with the Spicer transmission just visible to the
right and the powered axle in front of the controls and instrument
panel. Author's photo.
The instrument panel inside the LVT-4.
The radio control box is at the left.
The gunner's position with the .30 caliber
machine gun. One can seen the transmission better in this photo and the
covering over the driveshaft from the engine. Author's photo.
First use of the LVT was at the landings at
Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. Graham-Paige LVT-1's and LVT-2's
could me among those pictured here. Photo added 4-14-2015.
This is another LVT-4 that is on display at
the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, IN. No information is
known on which of the three companies, FMC, Graham-Page, or St. Louis
Car, actually built this particular unit. Author's photo.
The LVT-4 is 8 feet tall. It differs from the earlier
LVT-1 and LVT-2 in that
it has a stern ramp and the troops did not have to make the long 8 foot
jump to the beach on landing. Author's photo.
Here is a Packard 4M2500 Marine Engine that Graham-Paige built precision
machined parts for, Three each of these engines went to PT boats
and two each into pilot rescue boats. Author's photo from the
National Packard Museum in Warren, OH.
A Packard built V-6150 Rolls-Royce built
aircraft engine that Graham-Paige also built parts for. Author's
photo from the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton,
Pontiac built aerial torpedoes with
Graham-Paige components. Author's photo from the National Museum
of the United States Air Force in Dayton, OH.
A 1951 Kaiser Traveler that was produced by
Kaiser-Frazer after it purchased the automotive assets of Graham-Paige.
This vehicle was built in the Willow Run plant a couple of miles to the
east of the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum in Ypsilanti, MI.
This 1947 Frazer B1-6 Rototiller was built
under license from the Rototiller Company of Troy, NY by the
Farm Division of the Graham-Paige Motors Corporation in the Willow Run
Plant. Author's photo from the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage
Museum in Ypsilanti, MI.