Untouched 1953 Henry J

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Kaiser Motors introduced the Henry J in 1950 with the goal of building an affordable compact car that nearly every American could afford. The company went to great lengths to make sure the car could be sold cheaply, but the J never caught on and sales were dismal. Amazingly, the Henry J found its place when hot rodders began customizing the cheap little car. The combination of poor sales and customization means it’s difficult to find clean examples. This 1953 Henry J was found in a car port where it had been since 1975. This untouched project can be found here on eBay.

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This one still retains its original four cylinder, but it looks to be in rough shape. Most of these cars had their original engines swapped out for V8s. They became very popular for drag racing because of how simple and light weight they are. This one is going to need some metal work before a bigger engine can be dropped into the engine bay.

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The body is showing plenty of rust, but looks salvageable and actually has a great look to it. Restoring it could be a massive undertaking and it may prove more cost effective to turn it into a hot rod. It would be nice to see it kept original, but it appears that the underside is going to need work. What would you do with this Henry J?

Henry-J

Josh About Josh

I have been hunting down barn finds since childhood and my passion for automobiles has only grown stronger through the years. When Jesse told me about his idea for this site, I was more than a little excited. Before he had even finished the site, I was already writing the very first posts! And it has been an amazing trip ever since!

Comments

  1. NOSLEEPATALL.COM

    I remember looking at one of these years ago that the owner had already Tubbed. Body was in similar shape to this one and I think it still had the stock front suspension in it too?

    I passed on it…

  2. jim

    http://www.henryjcars.com. has some for sale and includes information on a recycle yard full of henryj’s and parts. also has the sear allstate model.

  3. William Robinson

    Hummmmmm, since these have been turned into drag srip terrors a whole bunch and in recent memory I can only remember one tbat was made to handle so heres my idea. Full custom tube chassis with corvette front and rear independant suspension and brakes. Cut the firewall and set a new ecco boost 2.0 built too say 325hp, bolted to a tremec six speed. Kinda sounds like fun in my head, I only wish cash flow would allow a build like this. If it did this would be on its way to my shop right now.

  4. jim

    the people next door had one of these for a few years when i was growing up. all i remember is that they were happy when they got another car. i hope someone either restores this or just puts it on display as it is. would hate to see it made into a hotrod.

  5. Richard V

    I agree, keep it as original as possible!

  6. William Robinson

    I forgot to mention… I wouldnt change the exterior look the only giveaway would be wigger wider steel wheels and decent rubber. I would even keep it the same color albeit with a fresh coat.

  7. twwokc

    Hope the buyer sorts it out and drives it. No restoration and PLEASE no hot/rat/street rod. There cant be a handful left that haven’t been rodded.

  8. stu

    The coolest one of these I’ve ever seen was in the La Carrera Panamericana race in 2001, I think. Driven by Conrad Stevenson, it had a Hudson straight implanted. The firewall was mostly removed for the rear of the engine, which protruded into the cabin. Conrad sat well to the rear, almost in the back seat. The Hudson engines don’t like revs, due to the sheer length of the crank, and this one broke in one of the early stages of the race. We towed the car all the way back to the US, and Conrad rode along with us. Great company.

  9. Tim H

    I don’t like them with the stock front bumper.

  10. John

    If it were mine, I would make it into a nostalga Gasser with a twist! Straight axle, fender well exit headers,Full custom racing Chassis and a Blown Roush 427 ford small block with a 6 speed trans. Swap meet all the salvageable stock parts, and Paint it a beautiful Emerald Green Metal flake with all gold leaf lettering! It would cost a fortune but it would be worth it. Unfortunately it is just a dream.

  11. Newport Pagnell

    I’d love to see what Chip Foose would do with it…Overhaulin’ submission.

  12. geomechs

    I’ve seen more of these hot-rodded than stock. Something as complete as this should be restored/preserved. There weren’t nearly as many of these built as ’32 Fords and you don’t see many original/restored ’32s out there. How about the ’40-’41 Willys? I saw a ’50 Anglia that was meticulously restored and it had the largest crowd around it at the show. People wanted to know what one looked like in its original livery. I have to admit that these cars look good, rodded. But the other side of the coin is necessary too.

  13. Chris A.

    I don’t think you could find a more basic car to work on and keep stock. It sure is cute. I kept looking at the fastback window and rear end treatment thinking where have I seen that and finally it hit me. The rear end design bears a close resemblance to a Sunbeam Harrington, a rare and pretty version of the Sunbeam Alpine that came after the Henry J. Incredible that one of the Henry J’s, even with the Hudson engine was in the La Carrera Panamerica. Too bad the race didn’t make the Henry J’s reputation like it did for Lancia, Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes and the Chrysler Hemi.

  14. Your Name

    Long ago my Boss had his Allstate car at work. The flat head even had Allstate cast into it. Sears sold everything back then with their own brand names. I called it a Henry J in front of him and he got REALLY pissed!!! LOL

  15. B Hankins

    Had a ’53 on. A ’55 Chevy frame, with a late ’50s Pontiac or Olds rear, a Ford Econoline van straight axle (leaf springs and all), an old Z11 427 (like the 409) with an Offenhauser cross 2-4 barrel intake, a Muncie 4-speed and a ‘glass front end with a teardrop scoop.

    One thing for sure – when it came off the line, it may go to the right or it may go to the left – but it was definitely NOT going to go straight.

    There was an original which looked just like the one in the pics in Pleasant Grove, Al for years. It belonged to the Exxon service station owner a he always said he was going to restore it. Never did. He’s been gone since the ’80’s. Often wondered what happened to the Henry J

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