The Henry J was an American based vehicle manufactured by Kaiser-Frazer Corporation and given the name after the chairman of the company, Henry J. Kaiser. In July 1950, the 6-cylinder version went into the production, while the production of 4-cylinder version began in May 1950. The car made its official world debut on September 28, 1950. The car remained in production until 1954.
The Henry J was a result of Henry J. Kaiser’s idea who always wanted to raise the sales of Kaiser-Frazer Corporation by introducing a car inexpensive to built, yet affordable to the majority of the American population like the one manufactured by Henry Ford as Model T. The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation arranged a Federal government loan in 1949 to finance their project. Once the loan was sanctioned, the company aimed to design a vehicle that in its base form cost no more than $1,300 (US$11,860) including Federal tax and retail delivery preparation charges. Also, the car could aim to accommodate five passengers and could sustain the speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) for long period of time. The target set by the company was to make the vehicle available by September 30, 1950.
Kaiser-Frazier Corporation in order to achieve their goals decided to use least possible components as well as least possible parts. The company skipped out the rear lid trunk to save the body stamping costs. Also, the company offered the vehicle only as a 2-door sedan with fixed rear windows. Some of the other features skipped include the glove compartment, armrests, passenger-side inside sun visor and flow-through ventilation.
The Henry J received a 134.2 cubic-inch (2.2-L) 4-cylinder engine rated at 68 hp (51 kW). However, the later models came with a 161 cubic-inch (2.6-L) L-head 6-cylinder engine with an output of 80 hp (60 kW). Willys-Overland was the firm that provided the engines for Henry J. the CJ-3A series Jeeps received the same 4-cylinder engine used in the Henry J with some minor changes.
Henry J failed to bring the expected sales for the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation. Compared to the low price of Henry J, Chevrolet 150 could be offered for a few more dollars and it was available with operating rear windows and a trunk lid. Similarly, the Chevy, Ford and certain other ‘low priced’ rival models were relatively larger than Henry J with more spacious interior. Following the market trends, Kaiser-Frazer Corporation came with a wide range of dress-up items as well as the deck lid (being a part of Accessory Group) for 1951 model year.
The Kaiser-Frazer marketed their Henry J through Sears in 1952 as Allstate. Although, similar to Henry J, Allstate had a different unique grille, hood ornament, hubcaps, interior trim, identification badges, and Allstate-brand tires and batteries. In 1954, Sears ceased the sales of Allstate because of poor sales. From 1951 to 1954, the car was also marketed in Japanese market under the license through East Japan Heavy-Industries, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi group. In Japan, it was sold as Mitsubishi Henry J.
In 1953, the Kaiser-Frazer’s manufacturing division acquired the Willys-Overland’s vehicle operations and eventually agreed to cease the production of Henry J.