NATMUS has ultra rare Kaiser Carabela on display

The National Automotive & Truck Museum of the U. S. in Auburn, Ind., is proudly displaying one of the most rare Kaiser automobiles ever made.

By 1955, Kaiser was pretty much out of the car building business in the United States.   Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) was born on Jan. 19, 1955, in Santa Isabel, Argentina.   With a partnership between Henry J. Kaiser and the Argentine government it was agreed to start producing fine vehicles in Argentina.  In 1958, production of the Kaiser Carabela started. It was basically the same as the 1955 Kaiser Manhattan. Incidentally,  1,021 of the 1,231 Manhattans built in the U.S. were shipped to Argentina.

IKA produced many vehicles over the years, but found one of the most popular was the Carabela. Production of the Carabela ceased in 1961. Industrias Kaiser Argentina built the very last Kaiser Carabela in November 1961. That particular Carabela was shipped to Toledo, Ohio, to have air conditioning installed. Then it was shipped to Hawaii with its pink aluminum wheels and pink and white striped interior. The proud new owner was none other than Henry J. Kaiser himself. There are two plaques on the car: One bearing the signature of Mr. Kaiser and the other with the inscription “Manufactured for Henry J. Kaiser, Industrias Kaiser Argentina.”

The last Kaiser Manhattan made sets on display in the main rotunda of the National Automotive & Truck Museum for all visitors to view and read it history. There are some dings and dents that reflect its use by Mr. Kaiser.  The current owner (3rd owner) says it is documented that there are only two things on the car that are not original. They are the battery and the oil.  They don’t much more original than that.

Stop by and see this rare vehicle along with the other prototypes, one of a kind, muscle cars and trucks that fill the 105,000 sq. ft. museum.

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2 thoughts on “NATMUS has ultra rare Kaiser Carabela on display

  1. Mike Norona

    Hey, i LIVED in Argentina at that time! The Kaiser plant (and yes, everyone called it IKA – pronounced eeka) was located outside Cordoba, very near my Dad’s FMC plant. Many of my schoolmates had Dads (from the US) who worked at IKA. Our Cub Scout troop toured IKA one day, fantastic! Not just an assembly plant, it had a full casting dept, forge dept (we saw crankshafts being formed), full sheetmetal fab shop (saw fenders being formed), several machine shops, paint dept., test track, design offices, the works!! Many many buildings. Essentially a complete auto design/ manufacturing enterprise – nothing except maybe a few items from USA were outsourced/imported. There were enough US personnel who worked there that Kaiser built a school for the families. Full US curricula for half the day, US texts and all, then full Argentine (it’s pronounced AR-GEN-TYNE) curricula … Argentine history, South American geography, spelling & grammar, math, science, etc. We had no class to learn Spanish per se, the classes were all taught to us IN Spanish! Fantastic experience! We got “double-learning” essentially! Thank you IKA!! But a magnificent plant, and we’d see many Carabelas on the road. IKA also produced the Estanciero – a Jeep station wagon, and several other Jeep vehicles. Maybe my schoolmates can chime in?

  2. Mike Norona

    Notice the nearly complete wrap-around bumper … dang near a necessity in Argentina at the time! What you can’t see
    – horn is connected to headlamps. Rule was, at unmarked intersections first to honk had right-of-way. At night in the city, rule was drive with parking lamps only. When horn was pushed, headlamps came on instead. Again, first to flash headlamps had right-of-way (it was considered too noisy to honk at night!).


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