Dusty & Rusty – Henry J Custom “Corvette”

Automotive customizers and builders are artists in every sense of the word, which means many of them aren’t going to appeal to mainstream tastes. I have a feeling that the artist behind this one of a kind fiberglass convertible built on a Henry J chassis with Corvette components had no intention of speaking to the masses. Fresh out of 50 plus years of storage, this current owner of this unique ride is hoping someone perusing the galleries of Detroit Craigslist will pony up $7,500 to add this to their collection.

Aside from its appearance, the thing that sticks out most about this build is that they used Corvette components, but all the “wrong” ones. I’m going to assume that the 1956 Corvette that donated its windshield, dash, steering wheel, soft top and other pieces was likely a mangled hunk of metal without an engine or other working mechanicals. Why else would you stuff those pieces into this one off body and then leave the original 68 horsepower four cylinder that came in the Henry J in place?

Speaking of the engine, the seller states it turns over but doesn’t run. They Henry J used a Willys-Overland sourced inline 4 that, if driven conservatively, could get up to 35 miles per gallon. The decent MPGs were about all the niceties the Henry J provided. First offered for sale in 1950 from Kaiser-Fraizer, the Henry J was intended to be a low cost car, and that’s exactly what it was. The lowest price Chevrolet cost about $200 more at the time, but even the cheap price tag couldn’t save the company. Unsold models were reissued and sent back to lots as newer years after receiving minor upgrades, such as continental kits. Henry J production would seize by 1954.

Considering that this build uses one of the cheapest cars on the market at the time, in combination with one of the sportiest, there must be some story to this build. It was no doubt a labor of love and I would certainly like to know more about who built it and why. It has all the makeup of a late 1950s build, and having sat for 50 plus years, it didn’t stay on the show circuit long, if that’s what it was intended for at all. What do you imagine this custom cruiser was built for?

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