The Way It Was - Hudson Motor Car Co.


Published:

1932 Roy Chapin Sr., chairman of Detroit-based Hudson Motor Car Co., was a whiz at marketing autos — even in the thick of the Depression. In 1932, the automaker unveiled the Essex-Terraplane (known simply as the Terraplane beginning in 1934), a reasonably priced vehicle that nevertheless wasn't cheaply made. In fact, its high power-to-weight ratio and graceful handling at high speeds was likened to the airplane. So, what better celebrity spokesperson to christen the Terraplane than Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic? In a splashy publicity launch before thousands, Earhart appeared in the Motor City. The event, in which she christened a Terraplane by smashing a bottle of gasoline over its hood ornament, received nationwide attention; a video clip can even be viewed on YouTube. Further underscoring the aviation parallel, Hudson presented a Terraplane to inventor Orville Wright. Five years after her Detroit appearance, Earhart, pictured here with a Terraplane in Detroit on July 21, 1932, disappeared while flying over the Pacific. The Hudson auto company was founded in 1909 by a group of Detroit businessmen, among them department-store magnate J.L. Hudson. He provided the bulk of the capital, so the company was named after him. In 1954, Hudson teamed up with Nash-Kelvinator and became American Motors Corp., headed by Roy Chapin Jr.

 

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Web Exclusive: Meeting the Beatles

Fifty years ago, a Detroit-area teenager won a contest to meet The Beatles.

Rocking in Style

John Varvatos and Alice Cooper talk about their musical and fashion influences — and Detroit’s comeback

Well-Versed in Classics

DSO oboe player tools around town in a rare pair of turquoise 1962 Lincoln Continentals

All Dressed Up & Ready ...

Cobo Center is still a work in progress, but Auto Show visitors will notice a host of improvements

One Night Only: Steven Spielberg and John Williams at the DSO

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Makings of the Shinola Hotel
    When the Detroit brand’s first foray into hospitality opens its doors, it’ll offer customers...
  2. My Two Christmases
    An Armenian-Iranian, Detroit-based writer reflects on transposing the holiday across continents
  3. An Hour with ... Carmen Harlan
    Broadcast journalist and founder of the Carmen Harlan Collection
  4. New Year’s Eve, Brooklyn Style
    Tips for celebrating 2019 from the pros at Brooklyn Outdoor
  5. Hour Detroit and Detroit Home’s Downtown Living Tour 2018
    Hour Detroit and Detroit Home’s third annual Downtown Living Tour took place September 7th-9th....
  6. Main Review: SheWolf
    Born in Detroit but inspired by Rome, SheWolf takes diners on a culinary journey
  7. Cocktail Recipe: Toddy Incarnata
  8. Meet the Makers: Tait Design Co.
    How an after-work hobby ascended to a booming business
  9. The Art of Gifting
    Metro Detroit tastemakers from all walks of life offer a glimpse of what’s on their holiday...
  10. Comeback Catering
    Dish, in Detroit, pushes through hard times with consistently delicious food