The Way It Was - Hudson Motor Car Co.


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

The Way It Was

Better Made Snack Foods, 1971

Do Good

The Greater Detroit Philanthropy Awards are back with eight new recipients

AFP Interview Series: Nominee Tracy Utech

With over 20 years of experience, Utech and her team have championed funds that have seen benefit outside of Wayne State’s campus.

AFP Interview Series: Nominee Karen Smithbauer

A career as a preschool teacher and battle with breast cancer, ground Smithbauer's philanthropic efforts

An Hour with ... Faith Duede

Founder, Rocky Horror Preservation Society
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Top Docs List 2018
  2. Memories of Miya
    Citizen Yoga founder, Kacee Must Leeb reflects on her sister’s suicide, its impact on her...
  3. Introducing the Piekie
    These cookie-shaped pies win big on-screen and off
  4. The Sixth Man
    A youth basketball coach teaches lessons on and off the court
  5. Mending Migraines
    Nausea, excruciating head pain, sensitivity to light and noise: The oppressiveness of the list of...
  6. Seeking Support
    Like many metro areas across the U.S., finding a therapist in and around Detroit can prove to be...
  7. Therapy in the Digital Age
    New innovations that revolutionize traditional approaches to counseling
  8. Food Recipe: Chili
    Michael Keys, of Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, shares his favorite chili recipe
  9. Author's Cuisine
    At M Cantina in Dearborn, Junior Merino is creating a new kind of Mexican cuisine that is...
  10. Seeing Clearly
    The co-founders behind Genusee on making eyewear with a mission