Showing posts with label Henry J car. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Henry J car. Show all posts

Tuesday

Makes That Disappeared



The February 1954 Popular Mechanics magazine carried an article on the 1954 model year car lineup and it's surprising to see how times have changed and have some name badges have just disappeared from the scene.

Out of 19 brands, the cheapest car in 1954 was the Henry J, priced around $1,500, and it's a nameplate that no one even remembers. The Henry J was named after Henry Kaiser who was chairman of the Kaiser Frazer Corporation. The company had gotten a government loan that required it to turnout a 5 seater car whose base price was $1,300. At one point the cars were even sold thru Sears, bearing an Allstate nameplate. 1954 was actually the last model year but, truth be told, they were actually built from leftover 1953 parts which were themselves leftover from the Henry J's faltering sales.

The most expensive American car for 1954 was Cadillac, with a price range from $3,500 to $5,800. The Cadillac brand is still around, of course, probably largely because GM took it over only 7 years after it was formed from the ashes of the Henry Ford Company. That's right, Henry Ford at one time left his company and his financiers took over intending to sell everything but consultants convinced them to instead use the assets to set up a new company, which they called Cadillac. Starting out with a 1 cylinder engine, taken over by GM, and forever innovating since then, the brand still has its gold standard reputation, in spite of some disasterous lemons in the last 20 years.

Gone from existence, but still building cars in 1954? Plymouth, Willys, Studebaker, Hudson, Nash, Oldsmobile, Kaiser, Desoto and Packard. Now, they're just collector cars and some of them aren't that desirable. Before its collapse, Hudson had showed off its Italia, Packard its Balboa and Kaiser the DKF plastic convertible.

That last one is one I'd love to have in my garage. It was remarkable because of its sporty look but equally because its doors slid forward instead of opening outward. The convertible top had 3 positions, including a unique mid-way, half-up position. Its fast style and high price didn't help Kaiser survive, however. Now, the model is hunted down by avid enthusiasts. If you ever see one, tell the owner to call me. I'm serious here, folks.

Even back then, though, in 1954 there was talk of how the smaller independent makers would have to merge or face extinction from what writers even then called "the big three." That's pretty much what happened, too.

Meanwhile, the Big Three marched forward from 1954 and survived in the face of the more recent onslaught of imports who themselves eventually built plants in the US to take some of the sting out of the "foreigner" label.

More recently the Big Three have gone up and down the quality scale with their output, sometimes great and sometimes terrible. If you end up with a lemon, contact us or call us at 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Getting rid of lemons is what we do. Everyday.

Burdge Law Office
www. Burdge Law .com
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons Since 1978


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