Oh Henry!: Custom Hot Wheels '52 Kaiser Henry J

My toughest project to date; not quite one of my best, but a challenge well done nonetheless. And I'm going to build more!

Starting point of this build. I know, it looks impossible to turn back to stock.

Starting point of this build. I know, it looks impossible to turn back to stock.

Sometimes I build exceptionally challenging projects just to challenge my skills. Sometimes they don't turn out well, but sometimes, they turn out well enough to post & display. Well, after seeing plastic-bodied "color changer" versions of the Hot Wheels "Jaded" Kaiser Henry J pro-mod dragster peg-warming in numerous different stores, I came upon the idea of sourcing a zamac-bodied one to convert back to stock, and bought a color changer to take apart and see what I could do with it. I completely demolished it in the process, sadly.

Then I found a Halloween-themed older release of the metal-bodied Jaded at Goodwill in a baggie lot. The next day, I bought another color changer Jaded, since it has the grille attached to the interior (as opposed to how it's part of the unsuitable racing chassis on the metal version) and clear glass that needed slight modification to fit with the hood scoop cut/ground out and the hole filled. I set to modifying the metal Jaded body, including completely obliterating the hood scoop, massaging the metal around a crack at the rear rivet post to look/fit smoothly, filing the A-pillars to correct Kaiser Henry J shape, and later, filing down the bulging rocker panels to be flush with the doors and front fenders, blunting the sharp edges of the tailfins, removing nearly all of the paint, excising the custom rolled front pan, and using JB Weld SteelStik epoxy-steel putty to fill the hood and the side pipe cutouts in the rockers. I then cross-pollinated it with the Continental spare tire and base from a parts-bin Matchbox Willys Jeepster, which was a match made in heaven.

Once the rockers, hood, and cracked rear deck panel were filled and smoothed out, I removed the last of the paint with neat acetone, and put 3 coats of carefully brushed-on Tamiya Metallic Blue (thanks, Oregon weather) onto the finished body. I then sourced another Jeepster for a non-damaged base, trimmed the bumper overriders off, swapped in some parts-bin Greenlight wheels/tires/axles that had the right look and width, and detailed the grille piece, while painting the racing interior (with airfoil/parachute piece and rollbar cut off) gunmetal grey with a metallic blue dash, brown front seats and white steering wheel to disguise as much of the racing stuff inside as I could.

Finished product is in the photo series above. Not really one of my best executed efforts, but in its defense, this was my toughest build ever.

I plan on building more of these as I acquire more metal & plastic Jaded and '48 Willys Jeepster donors, but spray painting them during better weather conditions, building up the rocker-panel fill on the outside with sheet styrene or cardstock on the inside of the body instead of thick walls of JB Weld putty inside that were sculpted onto the outside, and on some of them, completely filling the back end as opposed to putting a Vagabond/Corsair Continental kit on the back, maybe even building a hot rod one with the rolled pan kept, rear end filled, and the front Jeep bumper deleted.

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Comments (9)

  • If you could lower it slightly it would look a ton better. Still looks good compared to what it was.

      1 month ago
  • It actually looks better than a real henry j; they're high-riding panel gap machines of yesteryear. We had one rusting away behind the shop that a dude eventually bought and stuffed a 510ci chevy in. It was still primered and ran low 11's, but this was the same guy with a brown vega that ran 9's, so who knows.

      1 month ago
  • Next time on the chrome side moldings cut VERY thing bare metal foil and apply. It will be uniform thickness that way! Happy modifying!! You'll get better with each model you do and of course 1/64 scale is always a challenge since it's so small! Maybe give your eyes a break and do a few 1/43 scale?

      1 month ago
    • Thanks for the ideas. I might get a 1/25 MPC snap kit Toyota Hilux 4x4 or 1/32 Monogram Mack fire pumper to do in the near future, or detail out a 1/32 Jada square body or JDM car, as a side project.

      I also intend to get the 1/25 Revell kits of a...

      Read more
        1 month ago
  • Wow! You really transformed that one!

      1 month ago
  • Great work. A vision to completion. Love it.

      1 month ago
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