|Henry J. Kaiser|
The Henry J was an American automobile built by the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation and named after its chairman, Henry J. Kaiser. Production of six-cylinder models began in July 1950, and four-cylinder production started shortly after Labor Day, 1950. Official public introduction was September 28, 1950. The car was marketed through 1954.
The Allstate was the brainchild of Henry J. Kaiser, who saw Sears as another means to mass-market his slow-selling "Henry J" two-door sedan, introduced in 1950.
The Allstate was essentially a Henry J, but with a number of unique differences including Allstate badges on the hood and rear deck, a more upscale interior of Saran plaid or occasionally leather or smooth vinyl, special hubcaps/wheel covers, horn buttons and instrument bezels, a locking glove box and trunk lid, special engine color (blue), custom armrests and sunvisors, revised door locks and keys, and special parking and taillamp assemblies. Most notably, the Allstate featured a unique two-bar grille and jet-plane hood ornament designed by Alex Tremulis, who had come to Kaiser-Frazer from the Tucker Corporation.
Allstate automobiles were planned to be built on the senior Kaiser platforms, but following three years of negotiations between Kaiser-Frazer and Sears, Roebuck, the production Allstate was announced on November 20, 1951 by Sears merchandising vice president Theodore V. Houser and Kaiser-Frazer administrative vice-president Eugene Trefethen. The three-year delay was due in part to tension from existing Kaiser-Frazer dealerships fearing competition with Sears.
The Sears retail chain had tried selling cars under the name "Sears Motor Buggy" between 1908 and 1912 with some success. These horseless carriages were of the "high-wheeler" variety, looking much like horse-drawn buggies, with large wagon-type wheels. This type of passenger vehicle was popular in rural areas in the early part of the twentieth century, as their high ground clearance was well-suited to muddy, wagon-rutted country roads. Rural folks were accustomed to mail-ordering through the Sears catalog, and the Sears Motor Buggy could be delivered to the nearest railroad siding, an important convenience. Like virtually all Sears merchandise, these autos were manufactured by other companies and retailed by Sears.