It’s Been In Good Hands: 1953 Allstate

1953 Allstate 213 Deluxe

Did you know that Sears & Roebuck sold cars at one point? Allstates were offered through the famous Sears catalog in the early 1950’s. It wasn’t the first time Sears had sold cars; they sold high-wheelers in the early part of the century, but this was a mainstream automobile, powered by either a four or six cylinder engine. This particular Allstate is offered here on eBay in Glendale, Arizona.

1953 Allstate Ad
Image courtesy cartype.com

Yes, you sharp-eyed Barn Finds readers out there are correct; the Allstate was essentially a dressed-up Henry J, manufactured for Sears by Kaiser-Frazer. Minor styling differences were handled by Alex Tremulis (late of Tucker) and chiefly were grille and trim options. The Allstate was originally marketed in both basic models and upscale ones, but by 1953 most of the basic models had been discontinued. Ultimately, only 797 Allstates were sold in 1953, making this survivor a rare car indeed!

1953 Allstate Engine

According to the ad, this Allstate is powered by the smaller, 4-cylinder 134 cubic-inch L-head engine delivering a whopping 68 horsepower, so don’t plan on going anywhere quickly. However, the engine compartment looks clean and the car has been owned by an enthusiastic former Allstate agent who has now moved on to classic automotive insurance. This also accounts for the “Allstate Blue” metallic paint that’s a little out of place. An earlier picture of the car is included that shows it was white when the current owner purchased it.

1953 Allstate Interior

The interior really looks nice and must have been refinished. The “good hands” gloves on the front seat would be fun to include in a show display. The dash looks like it was refinished well, and the new weatherstripping around the windows implies that the paintwork was done well, although an inspection in person would be a great idea if possible. Engine oil pressure and amp gauges have been added so that the new owner can keep an eye on things under the hood.

1953 Allstate Trunk

The Henry J styling really led to a small trunk opening, although again everything looks sound and the new rubber and shiny chrome are evident. Believe it or not, the trunk lid was optional! The fact that this car not only has one but also has the 4-cylinder identifies it as a Model 213 Deluxe, with an original list price of $1,489. One of the different features of Allstates versus Henry J’s is that they included Sears brand tires, batteries and spark plugs. This spare is a B.F. Goodrich, however—I’m sure period Sears tires are impossible to come by!

Sears Allstate

Ironically, despite the “Allstate” moniker, they were offered in less than half of the United States! Do you have a home for this one in your state?

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Comments

  1. Tirefriar

    Sears sold motorcycles under the Allstate brand as well. This one may be for the preservationists.

  2. Scott Allison

    There is a guy that has a 1907 Sears Horseless Carriage that bring it to some of our local car shows. It belonged to his grandfather (who restored it from the original owner who wrecked it). Neat vehicle! It’s a single cylinder gas engine, with a friction drive.

  3. daniel

    in regard to It’s Been In Good Hands: 1953 Allstate

    Let us not forget that Sears and Roebuck also Vespa and Cushman scooters are the most commonly recognized as the Vespa “Allstate” in the 1950s and 1960s.

  4. Stu Member

    Henry Js make great hot rods but this one deserves to be preserved just as it is. What great advertising for his Allstate business!!!

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      A Henry J hot rod drove by me one time. I had no idea what it was, so caught up with him and had a good look.
      Definitely a very unique look – and very nice.

  5. Grr

    Not sure why buyers ever fell for this type of badge engineering. The changes are so minor and superficial – why not just buy the original? GM did a lot of this in the 70s iirc. I suppose they sell to people who just can’t tell the difference between any two cars in the first place.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      @Grr — two comments. 1) Allstates were less expensive than Henry J’s at similar trim levels. 2) This is the 50’s we’re talking about. Information dissemination was nothing like it is now…most houses didn’t have TV’s yet. So being able to buy a car through the Sears catalog or the local Sears store wasn’t that bad an idea.

      That being said, you are dead on about GM in the 70’s/80’s. I would say badging a Chevy Cavalier as a Cadillac Cimarron (and changing fewer of the body panels than the Olds/Pontiac/Buick version of the J-Car!) was the ultimate badge in badge engineering…and the horrendous sales proved that they did it wrong!

      • cory

        not to mention sears had some pretty generous finance terms that i’m sure helped to move a few of these.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I’m not sure about this, but it may be the possibility that you could order it from a catalog. I recall that as a young kid we went to the Sears catalog store, and that’s exactly what it was – there were catalog stands and you wrote down and ordered what you wanted.
      Maybe you could order an Allstate automobile or motorbike and they would deliver it to you(?)

  6. Gary

    My Father had a real nice Henry J back in the day when he would come home from work (Hotel Parking) with a different car just about every week. He did not keep the cars long as he would always resell or trade up. I was maybe 9 or 10 at the time and I always liked the little Henry J. I have seen only a couple over the last 30+ years at local swap meets.
    Looks like this has been well cared for and “in good hands”, Nice find for sure!

  7. RickyM

    This is so cute – it looks like a car that you would expect to see in a cartoon (Who Framed Roger Rabbit style). Really like it – very rare. Nice to see it has been cared for.

  8. G Stegall

    Grr, you are correct in some people not being able to tell the difference between cars. In 1971 I went with my Grandparents to buy a new car. They settled on a four-door Mercury Comet in “Bright Green Gold Metallic”. When I visited them a year later, I saw a 1972 Ford Maverick four-door in their driveway. It was white with a horrible black and white Houndstooth patterned vynal top. When I enquired, they said they did not care for the Comet and wanted something different!

  9. jim s

    it is at $5100 with reserve not met and more then 5 days to go. should be fun to watch this play out. interesting car, i hope the seller does something with the battery hold down. great find.

  10. Andrew Minney

    I want it

    Andrew
    Twickenham England

  11. guggie

    I remember my Dad gong to Sears and Roebuck in Gloversville NY and looking at one of these . I went with him ,i remember the car was blue and I didnt really care for it . Dad and the guy talked and talked forever ( in my impatient 8 year old mind ) needless to say he did not buy the car , I remember it being in the window for what seemed the longest time before it was gone . never saw it again . In case your wondering what my Dad did end up buying my Mom it was an 1953 Studebaker starlite coupe , blue with a white top 6 cyl 3 speed ( cant trust them damn automatics ) w/overdrive . Now that car was cool !!
    Dads favorite thing about the studebaker was it had an under the seat heater !!

  12. Joe Howell

    Saw oneone at a local orphan car run and thought it was a Henry J. Owner told me Sears also used them to promote all of Sear’s Allstate products. Many components were marked Allstate such as battery, tires, fan belts, turn signal switch and voltage regulator if I recall properly.

  13. Craig MacDonald

    I saw this on the road this morning driving down Grand Ave. I wouldn’t have had any idea what it was except for reading this post an hour or two earlier. It’s a great looking little car and the older man and his wife seemed like exactly the kind of PO’s you’d want.

  14. Vince Habel

    My dad had a 51 Henry J when I was younger. I loved that car. We went every where in it. I would rather go in it than the 54 Caddy convertible. I am sure I would take the Caddy now.

  15. Maestro1 Member

    We used to receive the Sears catalog at home, and the ads for the Henry J (Allstate) were there, how to go to your local store and buy one, financing, and all the rest. It was too small for our needs, but similar to other ideas from Sears in those days, it was a great idea to sell it through the catalog. Remember: Less population, no technology, and no internet, one had to use one’s brains and read, God Forbid.

  16. Jimmy

    I recall that Pluto had a car that looked like this. Pity it’s not got at least a six under the hood.

    Like 1
  17. Joe Phillippi

    There used to be an Allstate at Sears suburban Chicago offices. Never got to check out it’s odo though, but it was really sharp.

    • Vito

      At Allstate’s world headquarters

  18. fred

    I’m a member of the K-F club. Don’t own a Henry J (do have a Kaiser Deluxe). The fact that the J is identical to an Allstate means that despite it’s rarity, you can get almost any part for the car (except for Allstate specific parts, like badges). The club was formed early on and the founders started buying up and warehousing the existing parts stock as former dealers liquidated. The parts were “passed down in the family” and few were discarded.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      That’s great, Fred! I wish Triumph parts had been taken care of like that… :-)

  19. geomechs geomechs Member

    The Henry J never appealed to me until maybe 15 years ago when I saw one completely restored. Seeing the owner’s passion about it made me realize that it was a real gem. Too bad it didn’t bring the success that was hoped. The Allstate I heard about but never saw one until around 5 years ago. Sears sold it all through the years. i know that if one ever shows up in my part of the country, I’ll latch onto it.

    • Chartell

      I owned a 1951 Henry J and it had a 6 cylinder in it. ASAP I went to salvage and bought parts car and traded the 6 for the 4, why you ask, my older brother bought a 1954, yes 54 brand new when he was in the Air Force and the 4 banger out performed the 6 on less fuel @ .17 cents a gallon. When He was sent overseas I inherited the 1954 so had 2 1/2 Henry Js. Wish I had them back. Tail lights on the Allstate are 54 HJ tail lights .All previous HJ had little round tail lights onboard of the rear fender fins. Just saying

  20. Blankend

    As has been mentioned, the Allstate was cheaper than the Henry J. It also featured the Allstate brand of accessories from Sears, such as batteries, sparkplugs, etc. They also came with a better grade of interior that eliminated the need for seat covers, that most cars used in those days and they came with Sears brand tires. The optional trunk lid was not available in the Henry J model.

    The Kaiser dealers were encouraged to maintain the Allstates that were brought to their dealerships, which led to some friction from dealers who resented working on their cars that were being sold by someone else.

    I remember finding an old abandoned Henry J body in the woods where I played as a kid. I had never seen one before and thought it strange that it had Henry J in chrome on the back fender. I wish I knew enough back then to fix it up as a hot rod.

  21. Tim Marske.

    My son and I just found an Allstate barn find. Is fun to read about the history on the Allstate & Henry J.

  22. Robert Brown

    I had a 53′ Allstate back in 1972. I got it from my grandfather, and I drove it to high school. I would love to find another one, but want to make a nice resto mod out of one. I see you can buy kits, but they are $25,000 and no motor and tranny. I have seen some barn finds, in the 5-10,000 range. I wish I still had my original one. But don’t we all wish we had our old cars

  23. Harold

    I’m looking to buy All state something that my son , grandson an me to tinker around with I know the boy’s are gonna love it
    tinker4799@gmail.com

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