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SNAPSHOT 333: 1937 Hudson Terraplane De Luxe Saloon

Yes, it is a saloon and not a sedan – and it is right-hand drive (although that might have been a bit of airbrushing for publicity, judging by the rather American look of the folk admiring the car.) Not only was this car promoted and sold in Britain – it was also built here, or at least assembled from parts imported from Canada to avoid import duties, in Hudson’s own Brentford factory. (Incidentally, the Hudson Spikins Special in Part One of our 2021 VSCC Prescott report benefitted from a similar advantage: a Canadian chassis imported and shortened in the Brentford works.)

The Hudson name comes from Joseph L. Hudson, a Detroit department store entrepreneur and founder of the store that bore his name. He provided the capital for the venture set up in 1909 to build a car that would sell for less than $1,000.

The 1909 Hudson “Twenty” was one of the first low-priced American cars. It was successful: 4,000 were sold in the first year. In 1919, Hudson introduced the Essex brand, moving further into the budget market dominated by Ford and Chevrolet; the Hudson was by that time competing with the more up-market Oldsmobile and Studebaker.

At their peak in 1929, Hudson and Essex produced a combined 300,000 cars in one year, including those built in Belgium and in the Brentford works set up in England in 1925.

In 1932, Hudson started to replace its Essex name with the more modern Terraplane, a name that would last until 1938 when all the cars became Hudsons.

For 1930 Hudson introduced its 219 cu. in. (3.6-litre) flathead eight cylinder producing 80 horsepower. This was a remarkable unit whose 5-bearing crankshaft had 8 integral counterweights, an industry first, and also incorporated a Lanchester vibration damper.  A major revamp in 1936 introduced more sophisticated “rhythmic ride” suspension and class-leading interior room, and power increased to between 93 and 124 horsepower depending on the model.

British publicity for the 1937 car in our Snapshot made much of its roominess, power with low fuel consumption, and interior luxury – and of its toughness: eight endurance records were briefly mentioned. This was no idle boast; earlier in the 1930s English Terraplanes were entered in the Monte Carlo Rally, and the Team Award was won by two Terraplane tourers and a Terraplane saloon in the 1933 Scottish Rally.

Photo courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive.


2 responses to “SNAPSHOT 333: 1937 Hudson Terraplane De Luxe Saloon”

  1. Great cars those straight-eight Hudsons. If you stand face on to that wonderful grille, something in your primitive brain will trigger a frisson because it looks like a hooded cobra ready to strike!

  2. The De Luxe saloon was powered by a 212ci engine, and featured a 117 inch wheelbase.

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