The Hudson Motor Car Company made Hudson and other brand automobiles in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., from 1909 to 1954. In 1954, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator to form American Motors Corporation (AMC). The Hudson name was continued through the 1957 model year, after which it was discontinued.
|Hudson Motor Car Company|
|Successor||American Motors Corporation (AMC)|
|Founded||May 25, 1909|
|Defunct||July 4, 1954|
|Headquarters||Detroit, Michigan, United States|
|Joseph L. Hudson, Roy D. Chapin, A.E. Barit|
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.
Successful sales volume required a larger factory. A new facility was built on a 22-acre parcel at Jefferson Avenue and Conner Avenue in Detroit's Fairview section that was diagonally across from the Chalmers Automobile plant. The land was the former farm of D.J. Campau. Until the late 1920s, bodies for Hudson cars were built by Biddle & Smart. On 1 July 1926, Hudson's new $10 million body plant was completed where the automaker could now build the all-steel closed bodies for both the Hudson and Essex models. It was designed by the firm of renowned industrial architect Albert Kahn with 223,500 square feet and opened on October 29, 1910. Production in 1911 increased to 6,486. For 1914 Hudsons for the American market were now left hand drive.
The company had a number of firsts for the auto industry; these included dual brakes, the use of dashboard oil-pressure and generator warning lights, and the first balanced crankshaft, which allowed the Hudson straight-six engine, dubbed the "Super Six" (1916), to work at a higher rotational speed while remaining smooth, developing more power for its size than lower-speed engines. The Super Six was the first engine built by Hudson, previously Hudson had developed engine designs and then had them manufactured by Continental Motors Company. Most Hudsons until 1957 had straight-6 engines. The dual brake system used a secondary mechanical emergency brake system, which activated the rear brakes when the pedal traveled beyond the normal reach of the primary system; a mechanical parking brake was also used. Hudson transmissions also used an oil bath and cork clutch mechanism that proved to be as durable as it was smooth.
Hudson had a banner sales year in 1929 with over 300,000 vehicles produced, including contributions from Hudson's other factories in Belgium and England; a factory had been built in 1925 in Brentford in London. Hudson was the third best selling American car brand that model year, behind only Ford and Chevrolet, who however both sold over 1 million vehicles, making Hudson's third place position a long one away.
In 1919, Hudson introduced the Essex brand line of automobiles; the line was originally for budget-minded buyers, designed to compete with Ford and Chevrolet, as opposed to the more up-scale Hudson line. The Essex found great success by offering one of the first affordable sedans, and combined Hudson and Essex sales moved from seventh in the U.S. to third by 1925.
In 1932, Hudson began phasing out its Essex nameplate for the modern Terraplane brand name. The new line was launched on July 21, 1932, with a promotional christening by Amelia Earhart. For 1932 and 1933, the restyled cars were named Essex-Terraplane; from 1934 as Terraplane, until 1938 when the Terraplane was renamed the Hudson 112. Hudson also began assembling cars in Canada, contracting Canada Top and Body to build the cars in their Tilbury, Ontario, plant. In England Terraplanes built at the Brentford factory were still being advertised in 1938.
An optional accessory on some 1935–1938 Hudson and Terraplane models was a steering column-mounted electric gear pre-selector and electro-mechanical automatic shifting system, known as the "Electric Hand", manufactured by the Bendix Corporation. This took the place of the floor-mounted shift lever, but required conventional clutch actions. Cars equipped with Electric Hand also carried a conventional shift lever in clips under the dash, which could be pulled out and put to use in case the Electric Hand should ever fail. Hudson was also noted for offering an optional vacuum-powered automatic clutch, starting in the early 1930s.
For the 1930 model year Hudson debuted a new flathead inline eight cylinder engine with block and Crankcase cast as a unit and fitted with two cylinder heads. A 2.75-inch bore and 4.5-inch stroke displaced 218.8 cubic inches developing 80 horsepower (60 kilowatts; 81 metric horsepower) at 3,600 rpm with the standard 5.78:1 compression ratio. The 5 main bearing crankshaft had 8 integral counterweights, an industry first, and also employed a Lanchester vibration damper. Four rubber blocks were used at engine mount points. A valveless oil pump improved the Hudson splash lubrication system.
The new eights were the only engine offering in the Hudson line, supplanting the Super Six, which soldiered on in the Essex models.
In 1936, Hudson revamped its cars, introducing a new "radial safety control" / "rhythmic ride" suspension which suspended the live front axle from two steel bars, as well as from leaf springs. Doing this allowed the use of longer, softer leaf springs ("rhythmic ride"), and prevented bumps and braking from moving the car off course. The 1936 Hudsons were also considerably larger inside than competitive cars — Hudson claimed a 145-cubic-foot (4.1 m3) interior, comparing it to the 121 cubic feet (3.4 m3) in the "largest of other popular cars" of the time. With an optional bulging trunk lid, Hudson claimed the trunk could accommodate 21 cubic feet (0.59 m3) of luggage. The 1936 engines were powerful for the time, from 93 to 124 horsepower (69 to 92 kilowatts; 94 to 126 metric horsepower).
The 1939 models joined other American cars in the use of a column-mounted gearshift lever. This freed front-seat passenger space and remained the industry standard through the 1960s, when "bucket seats" came into vogue. Hudson became the first car manufacturer to use foam rubber in its seats. The Hudson Terraplane was dropped. For 1940 Hudson introduced coil spring independent front suspension, aircraft-style shock absorbers mounted within the front springs and true center-point steering on all its models, a major advance in performance among cars in this price range. Despite all these changes, Hudson sales for 1940 were lower than 1939 and the company lost money again. The advent of military contracts the following year brought relief.
The 1941 Hudsons retained the front end styling of the 1940 models but the bodies were new with 5.5 inches added to their length giving more legroom. A new manual 3-speed syncromesh transmission was quieter with all helical gears. Wheelbases increased by 3 inches, with offerings of 116, 121 and 128 inches, and height was decreased with flatter roofs. Convertibles now had a power operated top. Big Boy trucks now used the 128-inch wheelbase. In 1942, as a response to General Motors' Hydramatic automatic transmission, Hudson introduced its "Drive-Master" system. Drive-Master was a more sophisticated combination of the concepts used in the Electric Hand and the automatic clutch. At the touch of a button, Drive-Master offered the driver a choice of three modes of operation: ordinary, manual shifting and clutching; manual shifting with automatic clutching; and automatic shifting with automatic clutching. All this was accomplished by a large and complicated mechanism located under the hood. They worked well, and in fully automatic mode served as a good semi-automatic transmission. When coupled with an automatic overdrive, Drive-Master became known as Super-Matic. Re-engineering of the frame rear end to use lower springs reduced car height by 1.5 inches (38 mm). Sheet metal "spats" on the lower body now covered the running boards and new wider front and rear fenders accommodated this.
As the role of women increased in car-purchase decisions, automakers began to hire female designers. Hudson, wanting a female perspective on automotive design, hired Elizabeth Ann Thatcher in 1939, one of America's first female automotive designers. Her contributions to the 1941 Hudson included exterior trim with side lighting, interior instrument panel, interiors and interior trim fabrics. She designed for Hudson from 1939 into 1941, leaving the company when she married Joe Oros, then a designer for Cadillac. He later became head of the design team at Ford that created the Mustang.
As ordered by the Federal government, Hudson ceased auto production from 1942 until 1945 in order to manufacture material during World War II, including aircraft parts and naval engines, and anti-aircraft guns. The Hudson "Invader" engine powered many of the landing craft used on the D-Day invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944.
During World War II Hudson had also an aircraft division which produced ailerons for one large eastern airplane builder. The plant was capable of large scale production of wings and ailerons as well as other airplane parts. On May 22, 1941, Hudson was given a contract for the Oerlikon 20 mm cannon with the Jefferson Avenue Plant, on Jefferson Avenue and Connor Avenue, responsible to convert the original Swiss drawings to American production standards. The company produced 33,201 Oerlikons for the United States Navy with the original mechanism continued in use without major change and with complete interchangeability of parts until the end of the war. Hudson also manufactured millions of other weaponry and vehicle parts for the war effort. Hudson ranked 83rd among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts.
Production resumed after the war. The 1946-47 model years marked the finale for Hudson's truck line. Hudson had dabbled in commercial vehicles for many years, however its truck line was never a huge success due to not being true trucks, but instead merely car chassis with truck bodies. Although most early light trucks were car-based, by the late 1930s, Chevrolet, Studebaker, and Dodge had begun using proper truck platforms (Ford did not have a true light truck platform until 1948). Hudson were either unwilling or unable to develop a light truck chassis of their own, which limited the ability of their car pickups to be used in heavy-duty situations, and when civilian vehicle production resumed in late 1945, only the 3/4 ton pickup, now badged as Cab Pickup, returned from the prewar lineup. Approximately 6500 were sold before production ended in 1947. The reported reason for discontinuing truck production was that the new unibody Hudson platform was unsuited to truck use.
In 1948, the company launched their "step-down" bodies, which lasted through the 1954 model year. The term step-down referred to Hudson's placement of the passenger compartment down inside the perimeter of the frame; riders stepped down into a floor that was surrounded by the perimeter of the car's frame. The result was not only a safer car, and greater passenger comfort as well, but, through a lower center of gravity, good-handling car. In time almost all U.S. automakers would embrace it as a means of building bodies. Automotive author Richard Langworth described the step-down models as the greatest autos of the era in articles for Consumer Guide and Collectible Automobile.
Despite initial strong sales, Hudson was destined for trouble once the postwar "seller's" market ended. The Step-Down body was complicated and expensive to build, and was difficult to modify very much. Initial 1948 sales totaled 117,000 vehicles and increased to 159,000 for 1949. This was followed by a dip to 121,000 vehicles in 1950.
For the 1951 model year the six cylinder engine got a new block with thicker walls and other improvements to boost horsepower by almost 18% and torque by 28.5% making Hudson a hot performer again. The GM-supplied 4-speed Hydramatic automatic transmission was now optional in Hornets and Commodore Custom Sixes and Eights.
Hudson's strong, lightweight bodies, combined with its high-torque inline six-cylinder engine technology, made the company's 1951–54 Hornet an auto racing champion, dominating NASCAR for four seasons.
Herb Thomas won the 1951 and 1954 Southern 500s and Dick Rathmann won in 1952. Some NASCAR records set by Hudson in the 1950s (e.g. consecutive wins in one racing season) still stand even today. Hudson cars also did very well in races sanctioned by the AAA Contest Board from 1952 to 1954 with Marshall Teague winning the 1952 AAA Stock Car Championship and Frank Mundy in 1953. Often Hudsons finished in most of the top positions in races. Later, these cars met with some success in drag racing, where their high power-to-weight ratio worked to their advantage. Hudsons enjoyed success both in NHRA trials and local dirt track events.
As the post-war marketplace shifted from a seller's to a buyer's market the smaller U.S. automakers, such as Hudson and Nash, found it increasingly difficult to compete with the Big Three (Ford, GM and Chrysler) during the 1950s. A sales war between Ford and General Motors conducted during 1953 and 1954 had left little business for the much smaller "independent" automakers trying to compete against the standard models offered by the domestic Big Three. Although Hudson's sales remained good through 1951, the Step-Down was becoming quickly dated as automotive design trends moved away from 1940s-style fastbacks and sales began a rapid downward spiral starting in 1952, when production totaled only 72,000, although some of this was due to government-mandated production cutbacks for the Korean War. Hudson also lacked a modern OHV V8 engine, nor body styles other than sedans and coupes; station wagons, convertibles, and hardtop coupes were all absent from the lineup and the unibody Step-Down could not be modified except at great expense. Korean War military contracts kept Hudson afloat for a time, but this and racing accomplishments could not make up for styling that looked antiquated by 1953, nor the lack of body styles or a V8. The end of the Korean War in July 1953 also meant the end of military contracts. Although Hudson engineers demonstrated considerable prowess in extracting additional power from the company's existing six cylinder and inline eight engines, none of this was a proper substitute for a V8. Hudson sales were down to only around 66,000 for the 1953 model year and on March 20, 1954, Hudson reported a loss of $10,411,060 in 1953 as compared with a profit of $8,307,847 in 1952. A belated attempt to update the Step-Down body for 1954 proved to no avail and only 50,000 Hudsons rolled off the line.
Hudson squandered valuable money that might have gone to developing a V8 on the ill-starred Jet compact of 1953-54. The Jet was well-built and luxurious, but much like senior Hudsons, expensive and complex to build, and its styling, modeled after 1952 Fords at the insistence of an influential Hudson dealer, was widely panned. After this, Hudson CEO A.E. Barit engaged with George W. Mason, CEO of Nash-Kelvinator (makers of Nash and Rambler) to discuss the possibility of a merger with Nash. Mason already had the vision of merging the four independent auto makers (Nash, Hudson, Packard, and Studebaker) into one company to compete with the Big Three, having floated the idea as early as 1946 with Packard to no avail. Mason had previously discussed the idea with Barit in 1952. On 14 January 1954 an agreement was reached and Nash and Hudson executives took the first steps to bring the two companies together.
On May 1, 1954, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator to become American Motors Corporation. George W. Mason became CEO and president of AMC while Hudson's president, A.E. Barit retired to become an AMC board member.
Shortly after the merger with Nash, Hudson was effectively dissolved as a company. Its complex of plants on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit was closed, nearly the entire workforce laid off, and all production of Hudson vehicles, engines, and supporting components ended. The Hudson plants were sold to GM and converted to Cadillac facilities; the main assembly plant was soon shut down and it was demolished in 1958-59, the body plant would be used into the early 1980s.
One of the first things Mason did as CEO of the new company was to initiate talks with James J. Nance, president of Packard, for parts-sharing arrangements between AMC and Packard. At this time AMC did not have its own V8 engine and an agreement was made for the new 320 cu in (5.2 L) Packard V8 engine and Packard's Ultramatic automatic transmission to be used in the 1955 Nash Ambassador and Hudson Hornet models.
In July 1954, Packard acquired Studebaker to form Studebaker-Packard Corporation, however further talks of a merger between AMC and Packard-Studebaker were cut short when Mason died on October 8, 1954. A week after his death, Mason's successor, George W. Romney, announced "there are no mergers under way either directly or indirectly". Nevertheless, Romney continued with Mason's commitment to buy components from Studebaker-Packard Corporation. Although Mason and Nance had previously agreed that Studebaker-Packard would purchase parts from AMC, it did not do so. Moreover, Packard's engines and transmissions were comparatively expensive and also unsuited for the compact Rambler line, so AMC began development of its own V8 engine, and replaced the outsourced unit by mid-1956.
For 1955, both Hudson and Nash senior models were built on a common automobile platform using styling themes by Pinin Farina, Edmund E. Anderson, and Frank Spring. Common-body shell production for competing makes of automobiles was a manufacturing technique that had been used by the Big Three for decades. Anderson set up separate design studios for Nash, Hudson, and Rambler.
Although the 1955 Hudson used the inner body shell of the Nash, the car incorporated a front cowl originally designed by Spring and the Hudson team to be put on the 1954 Step-Down platform. The 1955 models also used the Hudson dashboard, "triple safe brakes" and the Nash Weather Eye heater with Harrison Radiator Corporation-supplied lower cost Freon/compressor type air conditioning.
For 1955, for the first time Hudson offered a V8 engine, the Packard-designed and -built 320-cubic-inch (5.2 L) engine rated at 208 hp (155 kW). All cars with the Packard V8 also used Packard's Ultramatic automatic transmission as an option costing $494 (equivalent to approximately $4,552); the Nash 3-speed manual was also available at US$295.
Hudson dealers also sold Rambler and Metropolitan models under the Hudson brand. (4357 Metropolitans were sold as "Hudson.") When sold by Hudson dealers, both cars were identified as Hudson vehicles via hood/grille emblems and horn buttons. Hudson Ramblers also received "H" symbols on fuel filler caps (and, in 1956, also on hubcaps).
In 1956 ex-Hudson president A.E Barit resigned from the Board in protest over the likelihood that Hudson would be phased out of production.
For 1956, design of the senior Hudsons was given over to designer Richard Arbib, which resulted in the "V-Line" styling motif, a combination of "V" motifs that carried Hudson's triangular corporate logo theme. Sales fell below 1955 figures.
With a wider front track than Nash used, Hudson was the better handling car, and was powered by the famed 308-cubic-inch (5.05 L) Hornet Six with the optional high-compression cylinder head and dual-carburetor manifold ("Twin-H Power"); the Twin H would disappear at the end of the 1956 model year.
The Wasp used the 202-cubic-inch (3.3 L) L-head Jet Six engine (up to 130 hp [97 kW]) and this model (in sedan version) was Hudson's top seller. For 1957, Hudson dropped the shorter-wheelbase Wasp line, selling only the Hornet Custom and Super, which featured a lowered profile and slightly updated styling.
With Rambler comprising the vast majority of AMC sales and Hudson and Nash nearly irrelevant, George Romney discontinued both nameplates in mid-1957.
The last Hudson rolled off the Kenosha assembly line on June 25, 1957. There were no ceremonies, because at that point there was still hope of continuing the Hudson and Nash names into the 1958 model year on the Rambler chassis as deluxe, longer-wheelbase senior models. The combined Nash and Hudson production volume was not sufficient to justify all new design and tooling, so the Rambler's platform was expected to be adopted to the longer cars. One major trade magazine said rumors of discontinuance were false and the 1958 Hudsons and Nashes "would be big and smart". Factory styling photographs show designs for a 1958 Hudson (and Nash) line based on a longer-wheelbase 1958 Rambler. Front-end prototype photos show separate Hudson and Nash styling themes.
AMC's President, George W. Romney came to the conclusion that the only way to compete with the "Big Three" was to stake the future of AMC on a new smaller-sized car line. Neither Hudson nor Nash brand names had as much positive market recognition as the successful Rambler and their sales were lagging. Together with AMC's chief engineer Meade Moore, Romney had completely phased out the Nash and Hudson brands at the end of 1957. The decision to retire the brands came so quickly that preproduction photographs of the eventual 1958 Rambler Ambassador show both Nash- and Hudson-badged versions. The Rambler brand was selected for further development and promotion while focusing exclusively on compact cars.
Eventually, however, something close to the Hudson design was chosen for the 1958 Rambler Ambassador. Hudson brand enthusiasts will note the triangular grille guard and 1957-like fender "gun sights" and the fast-selling 1958 Rambler Customs wore 1957 Hudson-styled front-fender trim.
Hudson, Essex, and Terraplane vehicles were either exported as complete cars or locally-built from knock-down kits in many countries making the Hudson marque well-known internationally as well as domestically. In its 1929 report, banking house Garden Detroit Company reported that in 1928 Hudson shipped 50,587 vehicles overseas, or 17.9% of total production. By March 1929 Hudson had topped all previous production figures having exported 44,295 cars in March alone, bringing the total of shipments for the first quarter of 1929 to an all-time high of 108,298.
Hudson vehicles were imported into Australia in 1913 by Brisbane company McGhie Motor Company.
In 1915 the Sydney branch of Dalgety & Co. Ltd became the distributor of Hudson and Essex vehicles for New South Wales. The company was also the agent for Wolseley, Daimler, and Buick passenger vehicles as well as Lacre and Halley commercial vehicles. Motor bodies were produced by Messrs Henderson, Boulton, and Kirkham in Regent Street, Sydney. The company also did trimming, fitting, painting, mechanical work, and repairs. Established in 1922, Sydney company Smith & Waddington set up motor vehicle body building operations for NSW and Queensland at premises on Parramatta Road, Camperdown. The company built "custom" car bodies which, by the terminology of the day, meant "built to an individual order and to a special design." In addition to Hudson and Essex for Dalgety, the company built vehicle bodies for Rolls-Royce, Wolseley, Dort, Benz, Fiat, and Tercat Mery. After a slump which caused operations to cease in November 1927, Smith & Waddington resumed production in June 1928, again building for Hudson and Essex for NSW and Queensland, and further adding Dodge, Chrysler, Erskine, and Studebaker for the whole of Australia. Additionally, Sydney coach builder G.H Olding & Sons are known to have built 6 Terraplane phaetons for Dalgety & Co. in 1934.
In 1926 a new company, Leader Motors Limited was formed to be the exclusive distributor of Hudson and Essex motor vehicles in Queensland. The bodies were made by South Australian company Holden's Motor Body Builders in Brisbane. (In its home town of Adelaide, Holden's made motor bodies for Austin, Buick, Chevrolet, Cleveland, Dodge, Fiat, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Overland, Reo, Studebaker, and Willys Knight.)
Hudson and Essex assembly began in Victoria by Neal's Motors of Port Melbourne in 1927. The contract to build the bodies was initially given to TJ Richards & Sons of Keswick, Adelaide to supply for Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania as well as acting as a second source of supply for New South Wales and Queensland. Holden’s Motor Body Builders also built bodies. Holden's records show that for 1927 the Adelaide plant built a total 1641 Essex vehicles and 8 Hudsons, and for 1928 the plant built 1931 Essex vehicles and 59 Hudsons. 1928 would be Holden's final year for Hudson and Essex production, and in 1931 the company was bought out by General Motors. In February 1934 Ruskins Body Works of West Melbourne secured the contract to build Hudson and Terraplane bodies for the whole of Australia. In June 1937 Neal's Motors celebrated assembling its 30,000th automobile: a 1937 Hudson Terraplane.
In 1939 Dalgety & Co. sold their automotive business to Sydney company and agent for Packard motor vehicles, Ira L. & A.C Berk Pty Ltd which thereafter became the distributors for Hudson in NSW and QLD.
After the end of World War II, Australia legislated to restrict the use of U.S. dollars which were in desperately short supply. The use of U.S. dollars to import cars thereafter required a government permit restricting the purchase of American cars only to those with access to U.S. funds held overseas such as consular staff and visiting entertainers. Despite this, Australian distributors of Hudson, Nash, Packard and Studebaker were able to bring in limited numbers of US-built, factory right-hand-drive vehicles from 1946.
Dunlop Rubber Company released a report in 1949 about Australian car sales for the period of 1932 to 1949 in which it reported that Hudson vehicles (including Essex and Terraplane) numbered 10,424 units for the 17-year period, coming in at 13th place overall. It was noted in the report generally that all marques in Australia experienced the greatest number of sales prior to World War II.
In 1960, six years after the merger of Hudson and Nash-Kelvinator to form American Motors Corporation, Australian Motor Industries (AMI) of Port Melbourne would form an agreement with AMC to assemble Ramblers in Australia.
Canadian assembly of Hudson vehicles commenced in 1932 by Hudson Motors of Canada in Tilbury, Ontario. The factory building was owned by Canadian Top & Body Co. which built the motor bodies for the vehicles. The first models assembled were a series of Hudson Eights. World War II interrupted operations and production ceased in 1941. Post-war operations resumed in 1950, with Hudsons being assembled by CHATCO Steel Products in Tilbury, Ontario. Operations ceased in 1954 following the Nash-Hudson merger that lead to the formation of American Motors Corporation. Toronto-based Nash Motors of Canada Ltd. became American Motors (Canada) Ltd. and all subsequent AMC operations continued in Toronto.
Hudson and Essex vehicles were assembled in Berlin, Germany during the 1920s by Hudson Essex Motors Company m.b.H Berlin-Spandau. The cars were built with the speedometer in kilometers, while the fuel, oil, and temperature gauges remained in their original non-metric units.
Hudson and Essex vehicles were imported into New Zealand by Dominion Motors of Wellington which began operations in 1912. After Dominion Motors amalgamated with Universal Motor Company of Christchurch in 1919 the company became the distributor for not only Hudson and Essex, but also Oldsmobile, Crossley, Chevrolet, Stutz, Rolls-Royce, and (pre-GM) Vauxhall. Vehicles were assembled and finished in-house from partial knock-down kits.
For South Island, Hudson and Essex vehicles were imported by W.G. Vining Limited of Nelson, beginning in 1912. Vining had built a 31,500 square feet (2,926.5 square meters) garage in 1908 which was the largest garage in New Zealand at the time. A car assembly plant was established at the premises and shortly thereafter Vinings obtained licenses to import and assemble Cadillac, Maxwell, Haynes, and Ford vehicles from the United States; Bean cars from the United Kingdom; and Darracq and Unic vehicles from France. Along with Hudson and Essex, the plant later assembled Chevrolet and Rover vehicles. The business ceased when it was sold on 30th September 1927 upon W.G. Vining's retirement. Vining's son formed a new business, P. Vining & Scott, and continued the Hudson and Essex franchise, adding Morris in 1932.
New Zealand car sales for the first nine months of 1927 saw Essex in third place with 898 vehicles sold, behind Chevrolet in second place with 1,100 vehicles sold, and Ford in first place with 1651 vehicles sold. Hudson made 12th place with 206 sales.
From 1935, Hudson vehicles (along with Nash, Studebaker, and Standard) were assembled by Christchurch company Motor Assemblies Limited. Production ended when the company was acquired by Standard-Triumph International in 1954.
From 1954 Hudson vehicles were built for the New Zealand market by Auckland company VW Motors as a secondary line to the Volkswagens they assembled. After the Hudson and Nash marques were dropped by AMC, VW Motors assembled AMC's new Rambler motor vehicles at its new Otahuhu Volkswagen plant from 1958 until 1962. AMC formed an agreement in 1963 with Campbell Motor Industries (CMI) of Thames to assemble Ramblers, production of which ran from 1964 until 1971.
Beginning in the 1920s, Hudson and Willys motor vehicles were assembled in South Africa from right-hand-drive complete knock-down (CKD) kits sourced from Canada by Stanley Motors at their plant, National Motor Assemblers (NMA), in Natalspruit (Gauteng). After World War II, NMA, built Austin, Standard, and Triumph vehicles at different times. After the Hudson and Nash merger, NMA continued to assemble AMC Ramblers until 1967.
Hudsons were introduced to the United Kingdom in 1911. No shipments were possible during the First World War but as soon as the Armistice was signed exports resumed to the U.K. Hudsons and Essex vehicles were sold through ten concessionaires.
In 1922 Hudson-Essex Motors of Great Britain Limited was formed, with new premises on Dordrecht Road, in Acton Vale. Over 100 agents were appointed to sell the vehicles resulting in 2,000 sales in the next 12 months.
In 1926 a factory was built on 4½ acres of ground on the recently opened Great West Road in Brentford. The plant opened in 1927 and a year later a three-story building was built as a service department for Hudson and Essex vehicles. The factory assembled the vehicle chassis locally but the bodies were imported as complete units from Detroit.
From 1932, the bodies came over from the United States in sections to be assembled at the Great West Road factory. After the Essex marque was retired in 1932 the British company was renamed Hudson Motors Ltd.
Hudson's new Terraplane model was equally as popular in the U.K as it was in the United States. English-designed and built bodies were built on the Terraplane frames and the cars were even entered in a number of races including the Monte Carlo Rally. Some of the cars entered were driven by personnel from the Great West Road factory. A Hudson Pacemaker won first place in the 1931 Scottish Rally, and another Pacemaker took 7th place in the 1932 Torquay Rally. The Team Award was won by two Terraplane tourers and a Terraplane saloon in the 1933 Scottish Rally.
Because of the Hudson-Essex factory, the Chiswick junction became known as "Hudson's Corner."
After the Hudson and Nash merger, the British company was renamed Rambler Motors and became an importer of American Motors Corporation vehicles well into the 1970s.
For the 1970 model year, American Motors revived the "Hornet" model name for its new series of compact cars (the AMC Hornet). AMC was later purchased by Chrysler, which at one time considered reintroducing the Hornet name in the Dodge model line (See: Dodge Hornet).
The Hostetler Hudson Auto Museum in Shipshewana, Indiana features a collection of restored Hudsons. Eldon Hostetler was an inventor who owned a Hudson as a teenager and later purchased Hudson cars and restored them.
The 2006 film, Disney/Pixar's Cars, features a character named Doc Hudson, represented as a 1951 Hudson Hornet.
archived at: archive (period) is/VMuM
Abraham Edward Barit (August 30, 1890 – July 14, 1974) was an American industrialist who served as the president and CEO of the Hudson Motor Car Company from 1936 to 1954 when Hudson merged with Nash Motors to form American Motors Corporation. Barit served on the board of AMC following the merger of the two automakers.Aerocar (1905 automobile)
The Aerocar was an American automobile built from 1905 to 1908 in Detroit, Michigan. Backed by Henry Ford's former partner, coal merchant Alexander Malcomson, the short-lived company offered an air-cooled 24 hp (18 kW) four-cylinder luxury car which sold for $2800.
The factory was sold to Hudson Motor Car Company.Betty Thatcher Oros
Betty Thatcher Oros (born Elizabeth Anna Thatcher, 18 April 1917, Elyria, Ohio – 19 August 2001) was an American automobile designer. Betty Thatcher Oros graduated from Elyria High School in 1935. She attended the Cleveland School of Arts, today’s Cleveland Institute of Art. Majored in Industrial Design, graduating with honors. Hudson Motor Company, wanting a woman to contribute a female point of view to automotive design, hired Oros as the first female American automotive designer in 1939.
Oros' contributions to the 1941 Hudson included exterior trim with side lighting, interior instrument panel, interiors and interior trim fabrics.Oros designed for Hudson Motor Co. from 1939 into 1941, when she and Joe Oros were married. As Joe Oros was working in the Cadillac Studio at GM, Betty resigned from Hudson to avoid a conflict of interest. Together the Oroses had five children, Joe III, Christina, Janet, Mary, and John. She later served on the Santa Barbara Museum Board and Symphony League Board. Betty Thatcher Oros died on 19 August 2001.Dover (truck)
Dover was a make of trucks, owned by the Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan. Hudson announced the Dover brand in July 1929 as "Dover, built by Hudson Motors."
When introduced, Dover trucks were available as a "Screenside Express", Canopy Express, Open Flatbed, Panel Delivery and Cab and Chassis. Prices ranged between $595 and $895. Bodies for the trucks were built by Hercules of Evansville, Indiana.
The largest purchaser of Dover Trucks was the United States Postal Service which put the vehicles into service for mail transport and delivery vehicles. The Dover was a durable vehicle; USPS reported using some of the vehicles well into the 1950s.
The Dover was pulled from the market in either 1930 or 1931, with Hudson's production records being unspecific. The number of survivor vehicles is very limited; the one known restored mail truck was last known to be owned by a private collector in Michigan.A fully restored U.S. mail truck (possibly the vehicle alluded to in the previous paragraph) can currently be seen at Hostetler's Hudson Museum in Shipshewana, Indiana, which opened in October, 2007. The museum contains 48 restored or original Hudson vehicles built between 1909 and 1956. Information on the museum can be found at https://web.archive.org/web/20130603031739/http://hostetlershudsons.com/ .Essex (automobile)
The Essex was a brand of automobile produced by the Essex Motor Company between 1918 and 1922 and by Hudson Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan between 1922 and 1933.Fabulous Hudson Hornet
The Fabulous Hudson Hornet is a famous NASCAR Grand National (now Monster Energy Cup Series) and AAA stock car campaigned during the early 1950s that was produced by the Hudson Motor Car Company. Several drivers, including Marshall Teague and Herb Thomas, drove Hudson Hornets that were nicknamed the "Fabulous Hudson Hornet".Howard E. Coffin
Howard Earle Coffin (September 6, 1873 – November 21, 1937) was an American automobile engineer and industrialist. He was one of the founders of the Hudson Motor Car Company with Roy D. Chapin. He was a charter member of The Society of Automotive Engineers and president in 1910, and as one of the "dollar-a-year men" served as chairman of the Aircraft Board which organized aircraft production and industrial mobilization during World War I. He retired from the Hudson company in 1930 but acted as a consultant. He died accidentally in 1937.Hudson Super-Six Coach
The Hudson Super-Six Coach is an automobile which was manufactured by the Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan c. 1926.Hudson Utility Coupe
The Hudson Terraplane Utility Coupe is an automobile that was manufactured by Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, between 1937 and 1942.Jesse G. Vincent
Jesse Gurney Vincent (February 10, 1880 – April 20, 1962) was an American aircraft, marine, and automobile engine designer. Famed initially for his design of the World War I Liberty aircraft engine, he rose to enduring prominence as the longtime chief engineer for Packard automobiles.Joseph Lowthian Hudson
Joseph Lowthian Hudson (October 17, 1846 – July 5, 1912), a.k.a. J. L. Hudson, was the merchant who founded the Hudson's department store in Detroit, Michigan. Hudson also supplied the seed capital for the establishment, in 1909, of Roy D. Chapin's automotive venture, which Chapin named the Hudson Motor Car Company in honor of J.L. Hudson.Liberty L-4
The Liberty L-4 was a four-cylinder water-cooled inline aircraft engine developed in the United States during World War I. The Liberty L-4 was an experimental engine of 102 hp (76 kW), built by the Hudson Motor Car Company and intended primarily for use in training airplanes. Only two were produced, since other types of engines were available and already in production. It is unknown if the L-4 was ever test-flown.Marshall Teague (racing driver)
Marshall Pleasant Teague (February 22, 1921 – February 11, 1959) was an American race car driver nicknamed by NASCAR fans as the "King of the Beach" for his performances at the Daytona Beach Road Course.
He walked into fellow Daytona Beach resident Smokey Yunick's "Best Damned Garage in Town", and launched Yunick's NASCAR mechanic career.Nash-Kelvinator
Nash-Kelvinator Corporation was the result of a merger in 1937 between Nash Motors and Kelvinator Appliance Company. The union of these two companies was brought about as a result of a condition made by George W. Mason prior to his appointment as CEO of Nash. Nash-Kelvinator ranked 27th among United States corporations in the value of World War II production contracts.In 1955, Kelvinator introduced the Kelvinator Food-A-Rama Side by Side Refrigerator, one of the earliest modern side-by-side frost-free refrigerators. Kelvinator consumer products, before and after the merger with Nash, were considered an up-market brand of household appliances.
In 1954, Nash-Kelvinator acquired Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, in what was called a mutually beneficial merger which formed the American Motors Corporation. Kelvinator continued as a wholly owned division within the new company.
The Kelvinator brand was sold to White Consolidated Industries in 1968, which brought the product under its corporate appliance group joining the White-Westinghouse, Gibson, and Frigidaire appliance brands. The appliance division of White Consolidated Industries is now part of Sweden's Electrolux Corporation. The Kelvinator product brand is applied to household appliances worldwide, as well as scientific refrigeration systems.Railton (car)
Railton was a marque of British automobiles made by Fairmile Engineering Company in Cobham, Surrey between 1933 and 1940. There was an attempt to revive it by a new company between 1989 and 1994 in Alcester, Warwickshire.Richard Arbib
Richard Henry Arbib (September 1, 1917 in Gloversville, New York – February 22, 1995 in Manhattan, New York City) was an American industrial designer.Roy D. Chapin
Roy Dikeman Chapin, Sr. (February 23, 1880 – February 16, 1936) was an American industrialist and cofounder of Hudson Motor Company, the predecessor of American Motors. He also served as the United States Secretary of Commerce from August 8, 1932, to March 3, 1933, in the last months of the administration of President Herbert Hoover.Terraplane
The Terraplane was a car brand and model built by the Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, between 1932 and 1938. In its maiden year, the car was branded as the Essex-Terraplane; in 1934 the car became simply the Terraplane. They were inexpensive, yet powerful vehicles that were used in both town and country, as both cars and trucks bore the Terraplane name.Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum
The Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum in Ypsilanti, Michigan is a unique automotive museum that is home to cars from the local Willow Run Plant and cars from Hudson Motors. The collection includes the original Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a Tucker automobile movie prop from the movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream. The prop is a feature of a Preston Tucker display. Preston Tucker was from Ypsilanti and did his engineering work a couple of blocks from the museum.
The museum is an official site of the MotorCities National Heritage Area, which is "dedicated to preserving, interpreting and promoting the automotive and labor heritage of the State of Michigan."
1954–1987 Historic vehicles
|Military & Commercial|
|Rambler & AMC concept cars|
with US operations
|Concept and pre-production|
|Auto component makers and |
performance car modders
|Defunct and former (2)|
Hudson Motor Car Company