Month: September 2011

Joe Frazer, Father of the Jeep, Part 3

Joe Frazer, Father of the Jeep, Part 3

con­tin­ued from part 2…

Jesse Jones (old-world­pic­ture-com)

 Jesse Jones, Franklin Roosevelt’s Sec­re­tary of Com­merce, was a rugged Ten­nessean who was hard to meet and hard­er to know. Joseph Wash­ing­ton “Jeeps” Fraz­er was Pres­i­dent of Willys-Over­land, a scion of the Vir­ginia Wash­ing­tons and Nashville Fraz­ers; but this and more wouldn’t get him in to see Jesse Jones at Com­merce. See­ing Jones required more pow­er­ful strategy.

On an urgent mis­sion to Wash­ing­ton for his Jeep-build­ing com­pa­ny, Joe Fraz­er had arrived one morn­ing in 1943 and parked him­self in Jones’s out­er office, despite repeat­ed warn­ings that the Sec­re­tary wasn’t like­ly to arrive until evening—if at all.…

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Joe Frazer, Father of the Jeep, Part 2

Joe Frazer, Father of the Jeep, Part 2

con­tin­ued from part 1

JWF cel­e­brat­ing K-F's 100,000th auto­mo­bile, 25 Sep­tem­ber 1947. (Life Magazine)

See­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty to run his own com­pa­ny, Fraz­er took con­trol of mori­bund Gra­ham-Paige in 1944, and two years lat­er merged its auto­mo­tive inter­ests with a new cor­po­ra­tion he and Hen­ry Kaiser had formed, leas­ing and then buy­ing the gigan­tic ex-bomber fac­to­ry at Wil­low Run, Michi­gan. Dur­ing Frazer’s 1946-48 pres­i­den­cy, Kaiser-Fraz­er was the fourth largest car pro­duc­er in the world, and ranked eighth in pro­duc­tion by make, ahead of all oth­er inde­pen­dents. He stepped down as an active offi­cer in 1949.…

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Joe Frazer, Father of the Jeep, Part 1

Joe Frazer, Father of the Jeep, Part 1

In 2011, Joseph Wash­ing­ton Fraz­er (1892-1971) was induct­ed, belat­ed­ly, into the Auto­mo­tive Hall of Fame, with his erst­while part­ner, Hen­ry J. Kaiser, co-founders of the world’s fourth-largest auto man­u­fac­tur­er dur­ing 1946-48. This arti­cle is updat­ed from the remem­brance I wrote of JWF fol­low­ing his death. For more on Fraz­er, see my book, Kaiser-Fraz­er: Last Onslaught on Detroit.

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On August 7th, 1971,  the auto indus­try lost a cher­ished son. Joe Frazer—mechanic, instruc­tor, financier, sales­man, pres­i­dent and board chair­man in a half dozen com­pa­nies, one of the few remain­ing giants of the clas­sic era of Amer­i­can car-build­ing, passed away from can­cer at his home, “High Tide,” in New­port, Rhode Island, aged 79.…

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