Jaded Man – Daniel Nelson’s 1952 Kaiser Henry J

There aren’t many people who recognize a Kaiser-Frazer car, let alone the Henry J. So, it’s rather appropriate that Daniel Nelson named his Galpin Auto Sports built 1952 Henry J “Henry Jaded”.

Kaiser-Frazer History

There is a good reason why not many people know about the Henry J or the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation, for that matter. While stunning in its design, the inexpensive to purchase Henry J – named after K-F’s chairman, Henry J. Kaiser – and the Willys-Overland Jeep just weren’t the models to keep the brand alive after its start in 1947.

The history of K-F is amazing as they set up the first American brand to open a production and sales facility in Japan after World War II, partnered with Sears, Roebuck and Company to sell cars in their catalogs, and were the only new American Automotive brand to achieve success after World War II – outdating Tesla. The brand would survive the leaving of Henry Kaiser in 1951 but it would eventually close shop on the automotive side with Kaiser Jeep selling off to American Motors Corporation in 1970.

The Henry J Failure

So, you’d probably call David Nelson’s Henry J a rare car and you’d be correct to say that. While I can’t find an exact number on how many Henry Js were made, just know that there was a total of 131,702 cars from 1950 to 1953, including ones sold by Sears, Roebuck and Company in their catalogs and rebadged as an “Allstate.” It further fell in sales and by it’s last year, 1954, it only had a market share of 0.02-percent of the total market in the US.

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Engines, Then and Now

The Henry J had an option of two engines: a 134-Cubic Inch I-4 or a 161-Cubic Inch I-6 but both were “flathead” engines. Those are long gone from Daniel’s Henry Jaded. In their place is a Chevrolet Performance 572 that was treated by QMP Racing Engines that Dave Shuten of Galpin Auto Sports commissioned for the engine build. The Chatsworth, California engine company punched out another 13-Cubic Inches to make it 585. A Holley 1150 feeds 110-octane through a matching Chevrolet Performance ZZ572/620 intake manifold. Custom headers by Ryan Shostle reach between the roll cage tubing and into the fenderwells before getting silenced by single-chamber Flowmaster mufflers with a four-inch inlet and outlet.

Drag Special

Like normal drag cars, the Henry Jaded features a four-link rear suspension with a FAB9 9-inch Ford rear end housing. Inside is a 5.78:1 gear with a spooled center that transfers the torque from a Huges Performance 4L80E into the Strange Axles. A pair of Mickey Thompson 33×16.50 ET Drag Slicks are attached to the chassis by Billet Specialties rotary-forged Comp 5 15-inch wheels. A pair of Billet Specialties Comp 5 Bolt-On Wheels sit on the Mustang II spindles with Wilwood Hubs, but they are wrapped in a set of Moroso Drag Special in 5.50-15. They are attached to a custom Independent Front Suspension with Chassisworks VariShocks coilover shocks with their Mustang II rack-and-pinion steering.

That 70s Paint Job

While all that is good, that’s not what will draw you in initially to the Henry Jaded. It’s that outrageous paint job that takes many Baby Boomers, those who remember Classic Rock when it was new, and fans of Don Martin illustrations in Mad Magazine back to their youths. The major color of the car is a mix of House of Kolor’s Orion Silver and Kandy Koncentrate Intensifier in Teal. Silver-leafing and pinstriping were done by legendary striper, Pete “Hot Dog” Finlan, just before the final clearcoat treatment was added.

Office Job With A View

The original Henry J was spartan inside and not much has changed with the Henry Jaded. The paint continues into the dashboard and IHRA/NHRA mandated rollcage with opening door bars. Auto Meter Sport-Comp gauges line the dash to keep tabs on the engine and check speed while running down the street. The Kirkey Racing Seats aluminum seats are covered in tan leather with diamond pleating on the inserts with Diest five-point racing restraints. The flooring, because this is still a street car, is a Trinidad Carpet installed by Chatsworth Upholstery. Keeping with that street car theme, a Vintage Air A/C system was also installed. On top of the ididit steering column, held in place by a custom GAS engraved steering column mount, is a Mooneyes 13-inch California Metal Flake Steering Wheel in Gold.

Not So Jaded, After All

Kaiser-Frazer Corporation and the Henry J didn’t last as long as they had hoped, but modern owners are making these Henrys into something they would never have imagined. While Daniel named his Henry Jaded, I don’t think you can have a bored view of the world looking out of that windshield. While it’s very drag heavy, it’s still a street car, if on the extreme side of the term. It has A/C, mostly comfortable seats, power steering with an independent front suspension, and you don’t have to climb around the roll cage to get in or out, but it’s going to blow your doors off if you race it.

Henry Jaded ain’t so jaded, after all.


Carbage Host

Justin Banner
@jb27tt on Instagram or RacerBanner on Facebook and Twitter

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Justin Banner

Justin Banner, Lead Editor and Founder of Carbage Online, has been involved with the automotive media and industry in many capacities and now tackles publication ownership with CarbageOnline.com. Prior to that, he has freelanced for top online publications of modern media that include Speedhunters, MotoIQ, Super Street Online, Hot Rod Magazine and many others. All due to his nearly 20 years experience as a mechanic, service writer, and technical support in the automotive industry. Justin is also a Journalist Level member of the Motor Press Guild - an industry recognized entity of professional automotive journalists - since 2015.