Hudson Motor Car Company manufactured Hudson, Essex and Terraplane autos from 1909 to 1954 in Detroit, Michigan. In 1954, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation to shape
American Motors (AMC). The Hudson name lasted through the 1957 model year, which it was then discontinued.
The name "Hudson" came from Joseph L. Hudson, a Detroit department store entrepreneur and founder of Hudson's department store, who provided the necessary capital and gave permission for the company to be named after him. A total of eight Detroit businessmen formed the company on February 20, 1909, to produce an automobile which would sell for less than US$1,000 (equivalent to approximately $27,885 in 2018 funds.
One of the chief "car men" and organizer of the company was Roy D. Chapin, Sr., a young executive who had worked with Ransom E. Olds. (Chapin's son, Roy Jr., would later be president of Hudson-Nash descendant American Motors Corp. in the 1960s). The company quickly started production, with the first car driven out of a small factory in Detroit on July 3, 1909 at Mack Avenue and Beaufait Street in Detroit, occupying the old Aerocar factory.
The new Hudson "Twenty" was one of the first low-priced cars on the American market and very successful with more than 4,000 sold the first year. The 4,508 units made in 1910 was the best first year's production in the history of the automobile industry and put the newly formed company in 17th place industry-wide, "a remarkable achievement at a time" when there were hundreds of makes being marketed.
1919 Hudson Essex
1929 Hudson Essex
1930 Hudson Essex
The Essex was a manufactured by the Essex Motor Company between the years of 1918 and 1922 and then by Hudson Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan between the years of 1922 and 1933.
Amid its production run, the Essex was viewed as a small car and was priced affordably. The Essex is for the most part credited with trend away from open touring cars and toward cars with enclosed passenger compartments.
Initially, the Essex was produced by the "Essex Motor Company," which in reality,
was a wholly owned Hudson entity. Essex Motors even leased the Detroit Studebaker factory to build the car. The Essex Motor Company was dissolved by 1922 and the Essex formally became what it always was, a Hudson product.
1932 Hudson Terraplane Coupe
1934 Hudson Terraplane K Coupe
The Terraplane was manufactured by the Hudson Motor Car Company, between 1932 and 1938. In its first year, the auto carried Essex-Terraplane brand; in 1934 the auto simply became the Terraplane. They were powerful, although inexpensive vehicles and both autos and trucks bore the Terraplane name.
Hudson had produced the inexpensive Essex from 1919 as lower-priced vehicles. In 1922, the company consolidated Essex into itself. The Essex is for the most part is credited with making the fully enclosed car affordable. The low-priced Essex coach "had advanced the amazing recovery of Hudson" in 1922.
Declining Essex sales, together with the impacts of the Great Depression forced Hudson to convert the Essex with a re-designed vehicle with a lower production expense and sales price. Roy D. Chapin chose to repeat the effective 1932 strategy building "a light auto in the base price class, a vehicle which combine comfort, style, and reliability". Although it took fortitude to launch an auto amid the Great Depression, Chapin believed the Terraplane name would have "mass public appeal" and it also connected with general society enthusiasm for avionics that was so common at that time.
The Terraplane contributed significantly to Hudson Motor's sales amid the Depression 1930s. Terraplane sales outpaced Hudson vehicles during the late mid-1930s and it has been said that Hudson management was not enamored with that reality and that was mostly why they disposed of the auto as a brand. A unique feature was "Duo Automatic" brakes. Terraplanes had double brake systems—both hydraulic and mechanical. If the hydraulic brakes failed, the mechanical brakes would be utilized to stop the car.
Hudson Eight (1930-1936)
1930 Hudson Eight
1931 Hudson Eight
1932 Hudson Eight
1933 Hudson Eight Roadster
1934 Hudson Eight
1935 Hudson Special Eight
Hudson launched a new flathead inline eight cylinder motor for the 1930 model year, featuring crankcase and block cast as unit and fitted with a pair of cylinder heads. Featuring A 2.75 inch bore and 4.5 inch stroke displacing 218.8 cubic inches with 80 HP running at 3,600 RPM with the standard 5.78:1 Compression proportion. The 5 Main bearing Crankshaft had 8 counterweights, an industry first and also utilized a Lanchester vibration damper. Four rubber blocks utilized at motor mount points. A valveless oil pump enhanced the splash lubrication system.
The new eights were the only motor available in the 1930 Hudson lineup, replacing the Super Six, which lumbered on in the Essex models.
Hudson (1936 until World War II)
1937 Hudson Eight
1939 Hudson Pacemaker Series 91 Coupe
1942 Hudson Business Coupe
Full Size Hudsons
Hudson Commodore (1941-1952)
1946 Hudson Commodore
1949 Hudson Commodore Sedan
1949 Hudson Commodore Sedan
1950 Hudson Commodore Convertible
The Hudson Commodore was produced by Hudson between 1941 and 1952. During its time in production, the Commodore was the largest and most luxurious Hudson model.
Hudson Hornet (1951-1954),(1955-1957)
1952 Hudson Hornet
1955 Hudson Hornet
The Hudson Hornet was produced by Hudson between 1951 and 1954 and then by American Motors Corporation (AMC) in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and marketed under the Hudson brand between 1955 and 1957.
The first-generation Hudson Hornets featured a functional "step-down" design with dropped floor pan and a chassis with a lower center of gravity than contemporary vehicles that helped the car handle well – a bonus for racing. The Hornet's lower and sleeker look was accentuated by streamlined styling, sometimes called "ponton" styling.
Hudson Wasp (1952-1956)
1951 Hudson Pacemaker Coupe
1954 Hudson Super Wasp
1955 Hudson Wasp
The Hudson Wasp was built and marketed by Hudson from the 1952 through the 1956 model years. After Hudson merged with Nash Motors, the Wasp was then built by American Motors Corporation in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and marketed under its Hudson marque for model years 1955 and 1956.
Hudson launched their "step down" bodies in 1948, which were manufactured through the 1954 model year. The term step- down reflected the placement of the passenger area down inside the frame; passengers stepped down onto a floor that was surrounded by the frame of the car, resulting in a safer car with enhanced passenger comfort. Additionally, the lower center of gravity created a great handling car. Over the years just about every U.S. automaker
has embraced the design
Hudson Jet (1953-1954)
1954 Hudson Jet
The Hudson Jet is a compact automobile that was produced by Hudson during the 1953 and 1954 model years. The Jet was the automaker's response to the popular Nash Rambler and the costs of developing and marketing the Jet ultimately led to Hudson's merger with Nash.
Personal Luxury Coupe
Hudson Italia (1954-1955)
1954 Hudson Italia
The Hudson Italia is an automobile styling study and a limited production two-door compact coupé that was produced by Hudson in cooperation with Carrozzeria Touring of Italy, and subsequently marketed by American Motors Corporation during the 1954 and 1955 model years. Designed by Frank Spring with input from Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni of Carrozzeria Touring, and introduced 14 January 1954, the Italia was based on the Hudson Jet platform and running gear, but with a unique body and interior.
1937 Terraplane Woodie Photo courtesy of Widrick
1937 Terraplane Woodie Photo courtesy of Widrick
1939 Hudson 112 Woodie
1941 Hudson Super Six Woodie
1942 Hudson Woodie
1949 Hudson Woodie
Hudson was not known for their station wagons. Their early wood-bodied cars were created by outside contractors, such as J.T. Cantrell, and done a per-client basis. The
first wagon in the company catalogues appeared in 1936 where it was listed as a 'Business Car' in the Terraplane line. The early Hudson wagons were bodied by Baker-
Raulang. From 1937, most of the work was handled by U.S. Body & Forging Co. of Indiana. By 1939, a wagon appeared in Hudson's entry-level 112 series.
The Wagon would become a stronger part of the Hudson line-up during the 1940s. A long-wheelbase Bid Boy sedan was substituted for a station wagon in 1940. The following
year it moved up-market to the mid-sized segment where it was built atop a 121-inch wheelbase, offered as a Super Six or Commodore Eight.
Pickups - 1929-1946
1936 Hudson Terraplane Pickup
1939 Hudson Big Boy Pickup
1946 Hudson Pickup
1948 Hudson Pickup
1949 Hudson Hornet Pickup
The first Hudson production truck, called a commercial car, the Dover was a light hauler based on the chassis of the Hudson Essex. Dovers were available in panel deliveries and pickups. The Dover truck was reconfigured as an Essex in the early 1930s, and based upon the Essex Terraplane auto platform.
The Essex name was discontinued in 1934, and Hudson's trucks were named
Terraplanes until 1937, when they were Hudson-Terraplanes for a single year. The Terraplane name was then eliminated in both autos and trucks, and the trucks wore Hudson identification.
Hudson presented what might be its best known truck, in 1937, the three-quarter ton Terraplane "Big Boy" pickup with a wheelbase extended from the standard 117 inches to 124 inches. Although production was low, Hudson offered a confounding cluster of models, somewhere in the range of 19 models. In 1939, this was reduced to 14 in, 10 in 1940, and eight in 1941.
Amid the 1930s Hudson produced an unusual combined auto and truck. In 1937, Hudson called it the utility coupe.
American Motors (1954-1957)
1957 Hudson 2 door
The merger of Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson in 1954, and the creation of
American Motors, was driven by George W. Artisan to receive advantages from the strengths of the two firms to take on the much bigger "Big Three" automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler).
On June 25, 1957, the last Hudson rolled off the assembly line in Kenosha. No ceremonies were held
as there were still expectations of proceeding with the Hudson and Nash badges into the 1958 model year using the Rambler platform as longer-wheelbase deluxe models
Get Your Very Own Hudson Scale Models
1952 Hudson Hornet Scale Model Shown
Approx. 7-1/2" Long
Scaled replicas of cars and trucks
Die-cast metal body with plastic details
Opening doors on all - some with opening hoods and trunks
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Hudson Motor Cars Through the Years
Reviewed by Gene Wright on