While I received no extra pay for writing the Kaiser-Frazer book, I did have the use of an expense account for travel. That was where Bill Tilden came through again. He helped me track down and interview many of people responsible for the cars Kaiser-Frazer built. Others were located through the deep tentacles of Automobile Quarterly, its many contacts in the industry. We also searched for archives, large and small.
Written for the Society of Automotive Historians Journal
U.S. Coast Guard Base, Gloucester City, New Jersey, July 1965: A call from the Ops office—“Sir, there’s a civilian here asking for you. He’s driving the weirdest car I’ve ever seen.”
It was Bill, of course. We clicked from the start. Within a week he hied me off to north Philadelphia to help strip the oddly attractive, faux lizard skin upholstery out of a rusty old car. It turned out a bad mistake—we’d junked an ultra-rare 1951 Kaiser Emerald Dragon. They built maybe six….
Bill’s automotive tastes were catholic, ranging from the E-type Jaguar he bought new and raced—probably the oldest in the hands of its original owner—to a 1941 Cadillac Sixty-Special, several Continentals and late-model Mopars, which he acquired as “future collectibles” from Chrysler, where he then worked, building dealerships.…