Starting 1953 with an Allstate Engine Under the Hood and Allstate Gas in the Tank

The name “Allstate” likely makes you think of the insurance company that was founded in 1931 by Sears, Roebuck and Co., but Sears also applied the brand to a wide variety of car parts and accessories. The ubiquitous Allstate brand was even applied to rebuilt engines as seen in this 1953 advertisement with advice for starting the new year . . .

. . . . as well as gasoline as seen in this 1952 advertisement:

The Allstate brand came into existence in 1925 as the result of a name-finding contest that generated a massive response from the public. The name being sought was for a new Sears tire, and nearly one million entrants provided over two million suggestions. An army of mail openers was required to process the mountain of mail that flowed in from every state in the union and around the world, written in 25 different languages. Twenty-year-old Hans Simonson of Bismark, North Dakota, dreamed up the winning name of “Allstate,” and was rewarded with the first prize of $5,000. The clipping below shows Simonson on the right above a photo of the mail sorters sifting through the contest entries.

In addition to the many Allstate parts and accessories, Sears slapped the Allstate brand on an entire automobile in 1952. Manufactured by Kaiser-Fraser, the Allstate was a revamped Henry J and was offered in two lines with the same 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines that also powered the Henry J. The Allstate’s grille was somewhat different and featured two horizontal bars as seen in the photo below. Notice also the Allstate badge on this survivor on display at Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska:

Despite being the lowest-priced full-size sedan in the country and going 30-35 miles per gallon, the Allstate was not popular with the car-buying public and was only produced in 1952 and 1953. The insurance company, no longer owned by Sears, is all that remains of the Allstate brand.

1952 Allstate

Henry J Hood Ornament

I was positively ecstatic to find this hood ornament while out bird-dogging car parts the other day:

It is an extremely rare one, originally found on a 1952 Henry J Corsair (or Corsair Deluxe). The Kaiser-made Henry J was introduced in 1950, and this hood ornament was one of many appearance and mechanical changes for the economically-priced sedan in 1952. It was described as “a new lance-style chrome and plastic hood ornament” and survivors this nice are not common.

The Henry J was really quirky. It had washable vinyl upholstery in “authentic Scotch tartan plaids” in 1952. Also, to save on production costs, early versions didn’t have glove boxes or even trunk lids. The trunk was accessed by folding down the back seats!

The introduction of the Henry J was poorly timed. The war and its accompanying gas-rationing was over and the public was looking for large and luxurious automobiles, not smaller, cheaply-made ones. The last of the Henry Js were sold in 1954.

I haven’t taken any pictures of a Henry J lately, but I do have this one of an Allstate and that’s almost the same thing (but that’s a story for another day)!


“New Look For 1952 Henry J Sedans.” The West Schuykil Press and Pine Grove Herald, 29 February 1952, Sec. 2 p. 1.

Henry J. Advertisement. The Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, 29 February 1952, p. 16.