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Automobile Magnate Terms Kaiser's Idea Ridiculous

Topics:  Joseph W. Frazer, Henry J. Kaiser

Automobile Magnate Terms Kaiser's Idea Ridiculous

St. Petersburg Times
6 December 1942

NEW YORK—(AP)—Joseph W. Fraser, president of the Willys-Overland company and a director of the automotive council for war production, yesterday termed "ridiculous" the suggestion of West Coast Shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser that the automobile industry plan 1945 model cars now and accept war bonds as down payment.

"If we should go out now and begin to design for 1945, it would defeat the purpose of the automotive council and the great accomplishments the automobile industry has made to win this war," Fraser said at a press conference.

Kaiser made the suggestion Friday night in an address before a convention session of the National Association of Manufacturers here.

"We hesitate to bid our hand until it is dealt," Fraser said. "We don't know what the 1945 economy will be nor what the 1945 automobile ought to be, or if 1945 will be the year of the end of the war. It might be 1955.

"As for taking war bonds, the government has asked all of us to keep war bonds non-negotiable. If I'm not mistaken, it is illegal to transfer war bonds, and it would be an inflationary step, not a step to combat inflation.

"Kaiser has done a great job as a shipbuilder, and I am not depreciating his war effort, but I think his challenge to automobile men is as half-baked as some of his other statements, such as the proposal to build thousands of cargo planes."

Fraser declared that "the scarcest thing on earth is a draftsman, and next, an engineer who can give suggestions for the draftsman to work on."

"As an automobile man for 30 years," he contended, "I resent a west coast shipbuilder asking us if we have the courage to plan post-war automobiles when the president of the United States has requested that we forego all work which would take away from the war effort to assure a competitive position after the war."

Forecasting that "there will be few luxury cars after the war," Fraser said the industry anticipated a demand for lighter, smaller cars.

"I think the public is being misled by all these pictures of plastic models with glass tops, done by artists who probably wouldn't want to sit under those tops in summer and sweat," he added.

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