HISTORY of HUDSON'S TERRAPLANE in DETROIT, ADELAIDE & BUENOS AIRES
This advertising cover for the 1936 Terraplane and Hudson, ‘engineered for safety’, has a Box number at the G.P.O. Adelaide and is addressed to the Hudson & Terraplane Distributor, Buenos Aires, South Australia. The address was added to in a red manuscript. Postage was paid by a green 1d KGV stamp as well as a red 2d Centenary of South Australia stamp 1836-1936, postmarked by a roller cancel ADELAIDE/ 1936/ 3 NOV/ 1030PM/ SOUTH AUSTRALIA and the slogan SOUTH AUSTRALIA/ CENTENARY/ CELEBRATION (Figure 1).
On July 3, 1909 the first Hudson model "20" rolled off the assembly line in Detroit, Michigan. The car bore the name of its new manufacturer's primary financial backer, J. L. Hudson. The first Hudsons were, like most early makes, "assembled cars". Most components (including engines) were purchased from outside suppliers and simply "assembled" in the company's main factory. As the years passed, however, Hudson made an ever-increasing percentage of its own components "in-house": engines, bodies, transmissions and differentials, to name but a few.
In 1916 Hudson manufactured its first engine, the "Super Six". It was the auto industry's first inherently-balanced, modern, high compression L-head motor, and it was vastly more powerful and lighter than the one previously supplied to Hudson by the Continental Motor Company.
The Essex automobile appeared in 1919. This was a lighter and less-expensive Hudson, designed to compete in the lower price range, just above the level of Ford and Chevrolet. In 1922, when open cars were still the norm, Essex introduced its coach, the first mass-produced, competitively-priced closed car.
By 1929, Hudson and Essex bodies were almost completely made of steel -- at a time when most competitors still tacked metal panels to a wooden frame. In that year, the Hudson Motor Car Company moved to third place in sales, just behind General Motors and Ford. The coming economic depression would be a disaster for Hudson and the entire automotive industry.
The Terraplane was a small but powerful car, built to Hudson's exacting standards. Essex and Hudson models were also built that year, but by 1933 the Essex nameplate was history. Terraplanes would grow in size throughout the 1930's until they were barely-distinguishable from standard Hudsons by 1938. An example of the Essex Terraplane is seen in Figure 2.
For most years from 1926 to 1947 Hudson produced light pickup trucks and "commercial vehicles" under various names, depending on the year: Essex, Dover, Terraplane and (after 1938), Hudson. An example of the Terraplane Deluxe Sedan of 1936 is seen in Figure 3.
During World War II all US auto production was halted and every car company produced armaments. From the Hudson factories flowed aircraft wings and fuselages, Oerlikeon anti-aircraft guns, and mammoth "Invader" landing craft engines. As the war ended Hudson, like other US auto manufacturers, returned to car production offering versions of their pre-war 1942 models, all that was necessary to satisfy a car-hungry public
The end of the postwar sales boom and increasing competition from the "Big Three" was hard on the seven remaining "independent" auto companies. Hudson merged with long-time rival Nash in 1954 to form American Motors (which survived until the mid-1980's). The 1955 Hudsons shared bodies with Nash at its Kenosha, Wisconsin factory, and the Jet and Italia were dropped. As AMC's Rambler grew in sales, Nash and Hudson sales declined, and those nameplates passed into history at the end of the 1957 model year.
Information for this paper was derived from www.hudsonclub.org and from the Wikipedia site.