Classic Car Catalogue

Henry J 1950 





Front fenders like a '50 Studebaker, rear ones a combination of Buick and Cadillac, a grille with a touch of Ford, an engine by Willys, and no name yet, . . . tisk! Four years late, Henry Kaiser has at last brought fourth his "people's car."
First mentioned during the later part of the war, the Kaiser automobile was then a vague rumour of . . . 24-cylinders, 100 miles per gallon. and will sell for less than $500." A "revolutionary new low-priced car” was mentioned in press releases.
The automobile-starved public was finally shown a line of medium priced car, quite conventional except for joining Studebaker in introducing full width bodies (first show model Kaisers did have front wheel drive).
Now that the market is becoming increasingly selective, Kaiser Frazer have restyled their larger cars and have returned to the theme of the economy car (with the help of the R.F.C.).
The new K-F product, in the "low, low-priced" range, will be offered in a single body style, a two-door sedan that seats five. The luggage space can be reached from the inside only and the rear sits folds flat to provide additional capacity.
The purchaser will have a choice of either a four or six cylinder “Supersonic” engine, presumably the new Willys F-head units.
What became of the “revolutionary new car"? We quote from Henry Kaiser:
"Our new low priced car, which will reach the nation's highways next July, culminates seven years of experimental work with more than 50 prototypes.
The engines in our prototypes ranged from 10 to 100 horsepower. We experimented with front wheel drive and rear engines. We worked with such material, as aluminum, magnesium, plastics and wood, and applied new techniques in using them.
We came to the early conclusion that the American public doesn't want anything radical or revolutionary and, certainly, it doesn't want a "small" car. The public wants a car of conventional size with enough modern styling distinction to instill pride of owner-ship'”
Ever since Henry Kaiser got into the automobile business the rest of the industry has been wondering if he could build a real automobile. His first try was a fair enough attempt but it didn't give the big boys many sleepless nights.
Now has built a car that may force a major revolution in their tactics. Up to now the big three has been building bigger and bigger "low" priced cars, and the public has been buying them ... not because they wanted to, but just because there wasn't anything else around for the price they wanted to pay.
The other manufacturers will be watching closely, and if Kaiser's, new car is a success, they will rush their own small cars into production. (all of the major manufacturers have built and tested such cars just in case). If the car sells well, Kaiser may get his permanent place in the automotive field.
The details so far released are not very complete: Wheelbase, 100 inches; Tread, "normal"; Height, 60 inches, and Horsepower, 74 for the six.
The impact of this car on the sales of imported cars will be tremendous and may even cause withdrawal or redesign of some, but sports and fine car sales will not be so affected.

(Road & Track)



Henry J