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Steve Moskowitz

Wild, Different, Unusual Cars!!

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This past weekend, I saw a car that I never knew existed, Kaiser Dragon. It had a "Bamboo" covering on the roof and a wild, wild interior! It got me to thinking (I know, dangerous) of other really unusual special models that some of the automobile companies have produced.

The challenges in restoring some of these cars have to be incredible, especially with the interiors. I remember some of our Oldsmobiles coming thru with interiors of "Indian Blanket" and some brocades....

At the meet I also saw a demonstration of how the original Packard radio worked...WILD!

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Years ago, my Uncle Mike had a Kaiser Dragon: he referred to it as his "African Cadillac", due to the rattan interior....

RE: interior textiles:

Chrysler offered two nifty variations in the '40s:

the "Navajo" which offered "genuine" Native American blanket pattern upholstery, and the infamous "Highlander", with its Scottish Tartan plaid interiors...all from the finest wool, of course!

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Packard offered some wild interiors in the fifties and would also have a gown or dress made out of the same material for the lady of the house. No extant examples are known to exist. This was reported in the Packard Quarterly with decent documentation <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> - unlike the 1965 V12 <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />.

YFAM, Randy Berger <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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The Kaiser-Frazer Club is usually sited next to the Olds Club at Charlotte AutoFairs so we've had the opportunity to check out a couple of Dragons as well as a Darrin. I think I can honestly say that had they had a contemporary OHV V8, they'd have put Lincoln out of business and given Cadillac a run for their money in the 1950s American luxury market. They are stunning cars, tastefully styled and appointed (well maybe except for the gaudy roof fabric, but it grows on ya when ya see it up close) and comfortable. That Continental flathead six hurt 'em- it was a good engine, but couldn't compete against Lincoln and Cadillac V8s and didn't even come close to Chrysler's Hemi.

K-F had some interesting cars. Ever heard of a Virginian Traveler? Their mid-line four door sedan, with an incipient hatchback. The decklid folded backwards, and the rear section of roof raised up, then the seats made a bed. Install the included tent cover and walla! instant on-the-road lodging.

Interesting that the General offered a similar setup for their X-body compact hatchbacks in the early 70s.

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I've only ever seen one Navajo Chrysler in person, but they are beautiful interiors. I wish other manufacturers had that much daring in their material choices for cars of that era.

My favorite offbeat interiors are the 1973 Pierre Cardin AMC Javelins and the 1974 and up Oleg Cassini Matadors. The Javelins are a riot of dissonant colors. They're very attractive and proof that drugs were affecting more than musical tastes in the 1970's. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" /> The Matadors are so over the top oppulent I find it hard not to smile when I see one, <span style="font-style: italic">after</span> I check to see if there are any members of the Soprano family inside! <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

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Don't forget the late 50"s Studebaker built Packard Hawks with the leather door upholstery that extended on the outside of the window opening so you didn't have to rest your arm on hot sheet metal when cruising in the summer. Stude8

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