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Futura/Waimea- 1961

Futura/Waimea- 1961

In 1945, industrialist, Henry J. Kaiser, along with veteran automobile executive Joseph Frazer started the automobile company Kaiser-Frazer. A year later he also formed Kaiser Aluminum and commissioned Rhys Miller and Frank Hershey (designer of the original 56-57 Ford Thunderbird two-seater) to produce a portfolio of all-aluminum car designs to feature in promotional literature. Their illustration style combined with a keen design, worked together to produce an original portfolio that perfectly encapsulated the mid-century auto design aesthetic. Kaiser had reproduction portfolios printed of their gorgeous, oversized prototype images to seduce key members of the auto industry into envisioning the potential of using his aluminum product.

The Miller and Hershey futuristic Kaiser prototypes never made it past the drawing board. But in the 90s, automotive restorer, Blake Larson of Minnesota pulled out his collected Kaiser Ads from the 60s and was taken by one singular design, the “Waimea”. Rhys Miller is solely credited to the Waimea design. Intrigued by its unusual middle driver’s seat position with center steering, Larson decided it was time to bring the design to life. In an August 2000 Collectible Automobile magazine, Larson had a letter to the editor published explaining: “Five years ago, after restoring five cars, I decided to do something different. I retrieved the sketch of the Waimea and decided to try to build it. Because the driver sits in the middle up front, there is no room for an engine up there, so I started with a Corvair Lakewood wagon. It attracts a lot of attention wherever I drive it.”

Larson repurposed parts that added to the high style of the Futura Waimea: '59 Cadillac rocket taillights mounted on the 'D' pillar, a sunroof from a '54 Ford Skyliner, the instrument cluster from a '49 Nash Ambassador, and the roof rack, from a Vega Wagon. Larson said he re-christened the Futura after the early '60s Ford Falcon Futura. It has bears the Futura’s wheel cover and script.

Larson showed his newly-finished “Futura Waimea” around Minnesota in the 90s but then it disappeared. In 2013, it turned up on eBay and was purchased by Motor Trend’s Chasing Classic Cars, TV personality Wayne Carini. The Futura Waimea was never featured in any of the programs. Lane Motor Museum acquired this car in 2021.

Specifications:

Manufacturer: Blake Larson
Country of Origin: USA
Drivetrain Configuration: Rear-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: Corvair, air-cooled, 145 cu. in. flat-six engine, 84 hp
Transmission: Two-speed Powerglide automatic
Top speed: Unknown
Years Produced: 1961

 

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