1934 Hudson Terraplane 2-door Sedan, Special Eight Series, Model LT
Original price: $725.00 (1934: Average annual household income, $1,600.00; average cost of a home, $5,970.00; average cost of a gallon of gas, 10 cents)
On loan from: Robert and Jeneane Johnson, Hastings, NE; car purchased in Kearney in 1961.
Number made: 27,130
Engine, etc.: Straight 8, L-head; 254 cu. in.; 108 hp; 3-speed manual transmission; 2,855 lbs.; 116” wheelbase. Had mechanical brakes, now has hydraulic brakes; originally had two tail lights, now has one.
Hudson was started in 1909 by a group of businessmen who combined resources to found the Hudson Car Company. One was Joseph L. Hudson who owned retail stores that continue now as Target stores.
The inexpensive Hudson Essex began production in 1919. They were a low-priced alternative to Fords and Chevrolets. In 1932, Hudson president Roy Chapin decided to produce the Essex-Terraplane, a very light car in the bottom price class. The decision carried risk since this was during the Great Depression. Available models included a convertible, coach, and sedan. The “Terraplane” name fit with the public interest in aviation that was popular at the time. They were very successful.
The Terraplane was made from 1934 – 1939 and were based on the Essex Terraplane. The word “Essex” was dropped in 1934. They were Hudson’s smallest and most-affordable cars and offered ample interior space for passengers and luggage. The 8-cylinder engine was powerful, the cars accelerated quickly, climbed hills easily, and they handled well. (They became a favorite of gangsters in road races with police in hot pursuit.) They made up the bulk of Hudson’s sales volume in each of their four years as a separate make with 280,000 total sales. After losing almost $5 million in 1938 because of the low price versus cost of production, Hudson decided to eliminate the car as a separate make.
In 1938 Hudson phased out the Terraplane name and models were named Hudson-Terraplanes. Hudson had a new “112” line in 1938 almost identical to the Hudson Terraplanes but with a shorter wheelbase. Sales were disappointing. The name was dropped though, in spirit, the Terraplane lived on in the 1939 Series 91 Pacemaker and Series 92 Six.
A unique Terraplane feature was “Duo-Automatic” brakes. They had two braking systems, one hydraulic and one mechanical. If the hydraulic system failed, an emergency mechanical brake would stop the car.
A memorable sales slogan in 1933 was “On the sea that’s aquaplaning, in the air that’s aeroplaning, but on the land, in the traffic, on the hills, hot diggity dog, “THAT’S TERRAPLANING”.
http://classiccardatabase.com/specs.php?series=3569&year=1934&model=9906 (“Coach” model)
Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1805-1942. B. R. Kimes, H. A. Clark, Jr. Kraus, 1985.
http://uniquecarsandparts.com/lost_marques_hudson.htm (Company history)
See also: http://wwwoldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Hudson/1933_Hudson/1933%20Terraplane%20Eight%20Brochure/index1.html (Original sales brochure, 1933 Terraplane models)