1953 HENRY J “GASSER”
The Henry J is a compact economy car built by the Kaiser-Fraser Corporation in Detroit from 1951-1954, named after company founder Henry J. Kaiser. During that time, a cosmetic variant was private-labeled as the “Allstate” and sold through the Sears Catalog. Because of its small size and light weight, a number of them were turned into drag racers.
This 1953 Henry J is an extremely well-documented piece of drag racing history from the beginnings of the NHRA. In 1959 it was built and driven by racing pioneer Bill Waddill. The car has just been put back to close to its 1960 configuration with a newly rebuilt 1957 392 Hemi and a Muncie M-22. All equipment on the vehicle is period correct from when Bill actively ran it in competition to great success. The car was run in everything from open track nights to the final round of the 1959 NHRA Nationals in Detroit. This Henry J gasser was featured in several issues of Hot Rod magazine, and even the NHRA film Ingenuity in Action. When first built, the car was shortened and chopped to save weight. Previous documented powertrains include various Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler motors, including a twin McCulloch (later known as Paxton) supercharged 1957 Chrysler 392 Hemi (which was the engine it ran in the 1959 NHRA Nationals). In the mid ‘60s it also ran a Ford SOHC 427 “Cammer”.