Mark Geske started working at my restoration shop in January and addition to having a lot of car fixing experience, he has a lot of cars himself. Two of them are modified Henry J’s; hot rod versions of a compact car that Kaiser Corporation built in the early 1950s. They are named for industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. Sears, Roebuck also sold a cheaper version under the Allstate name.
Last week Mark and I were at the Hot Rod & Restoration Show (www.hotrodshow.com). We stopped at Rockett Brand Racing Fuel’s booth (www.rockettbrand.com) to talk to their sales rep Dave Granger. We couldn’t help noticing a handout in the booth showing a Henry J dragster. Dave said the car was one of his. When Mark told him about the pair of Henry J’s he had, Granger pointed across the aisle to the Currie Enterprises (www.currieenterpises.com) booth. “That fellow over there has two of them, too,” he said.
By this time we were started to recall several Henry J hot rods and customs we had seen at SEMA and the very neat Cadillac V-8 powered circle track racer that’s in the Southeast Wisconsin Short Track Hall of Fame (www.sewishorttrackhof.com) at the Wisconsin Automotive Museum (www.Wisconsinautomuseum.com) in Hartford, Wis. It’s associated with Miles the Mouse Melius, a legendary Milwaukee area driver.
According to Granger, a lot of the hot rod and custom Henry J’s have fiberglass body parts made by Scott Leber who owns ScottRods LLC (www.scottrodscustom.com) in Monroeville, Ohio. Mark Geske has used a Chevy S-10 chassis under his Henry J’s, but Leber can supply anything from a body kit to a roller for different package prices listed on his Website.
Stock, custom or modified, the pint-sized Henry J is a cool Kaiser to own today. If it’s a stock show car, it’s sure to get attention because it’s different, plus you’ll get great gas mileage.
For customizers, the cute little compact has great lines to play with. And if it’s an all-out hot rod, that Henry J is sure to be fast. With a big engine stuffed into a tiny car, you have the perfect combination for the drag strip.