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YAK Car Pic of the Day

Filed under: You Auto Know
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'51 Henry J brochure art

The brochure called the 1951 Henry J “The most important new car in America.” Apparently not much of America read the brochure, as the Henry J tanked. Kaiser put a ton of money into developing the “smart, tough, thrifty” Henry J instead of developing a V-8 for its full-sized line, which also was hitting the skids. The Henry J’s biggest problem was its price. And its styling. Its two biggest problems were it price and its styling. And its lack of creature comforts. It’s three biggest… okay, you get the picture. For mere pocket change over the price of a Henry J you could get a full sized Chevy or Ford. And that’s what people did. Today the Henry J is nothing more than a curiosity in American automotive history. You can read the whole brochure here.

— Jim Corbran, You Auto Know


  • Max

    Funny how fickle the auto market was and can be. Within the decade that saw the demise of Kaiser’s spartan Henry J – by the way, an early entry into what later became the Donald J. Trump ego phenomena: naming a car after yourself – Ford, GM, AND Chrysler all retooled to bring out their basic compact machines in response to the VW invasion – the Falcon/Comet, Corvair and Valiant. When you think of those early models, they were similar to the Henry J in their “bare bones” transportation.

    • Jim Corbran

      Going way back, many builders named their car after themselves (Ford, Olds, Dodge, Chrysler…). At least the Valiant, Falcon, and Corvair had more of a price advantage over the larger cars than did the poor old Henry J. The Willys Aero was another compact just a bit too far ahead of its time.