For those of us old enough to remember, it seems like only yesterday that Hudson was a proud manufacturer of fine, middle-class automobiles. Hudsons were part of mainstream America, competing with marques like Buick, Nash, and Studebaker, known for advanced engineering and styling. For a few years the company also produced a handsome lower priced spin-off, the Terraplane.
Hudson's many admirers would never have believed that the company, which began producing cars in 1909, financed by Joseph L. Hudson, founder of Detroit's Hudson department store, would ever shut its doors. Yet in 1957, after being merged with Nash-Kelvinator into American Motors, Hudson, by then just a badge-engineered replica of its former self, faded into history. Fortunately for those who recall the halcyon days of Hudson and also for the edification of those who don't, collectors have kept the name alive by restoring and maintaining examples of the marque.
One man who clearly had a love affair with Hudsons, was John Soneff. Although his collection included a variety of makes, Hudsons predominated. And it is Hudsons that will catch everyone's attention at Auctions America's Auburn Spring Collector Car Sale, which takes place on the weekend of May 9-11 at the historic Auburn Auction Park. A number of cars from the Soneff Collection are being offered for sale, including the Hudsons shown here. I've chosen these six cars partly because they represent different eras in Hudson history and, well, just because I like them.
The car in our lead photo is a 1929 Hudson Model R Landau Sedan. It features Biddle and Smart coachwork on a Model R 122.5-inch wheelbase chassis, with a 288.5-cid, 92-hp inline six-cylinder engine and three-speed floor-shift manual transmission. Options include dual sidemounts, front and rear bumpers, trunk, radiator shutters, sidemount mirror, driving lights, and steel wire wheels.
The Terraplane began life as a lower-price Essex Terraplane but by 1934 the Essex name had been eliminated. Terraplane was a wonderful name for a car in those years, combining "Terra" (earth) with "Plane" (as in aeroplane) at a time when people were fascinated by the concept of travel by air. The car's design also had elements of art deco in its styling. The car being auctioned is a 1936 Terraplane Coupe with a 212-cid, 88-hp inline six-cylinder engine and three-speed floor-shift manual transmission. It comes with such delights as a rumble seat, rear-mounted spare, fender skirts, and wide whitewall tires.
Hudson also made pickup trucks both before and after WW2, though they were as much cars as trucks, being based on the sedans. Long, low, and sporty, Hudson pickups made play out of work. This 1942 example has been upgraded with a 1954 Hudson Hornet 308-cid inline six-cylinder engine, twin carburetors, dual exhaust, and Hydra-Matic transmission. One of only 67 1942 Hudson pickups produced, it was totally restored five years ago and has only 200 miles on it since then.
Clearly John Soneff had no problems with upgrading his Hudsons as this 1947 Hudson Super 8 Sedan reveals. It has a contemporary V-8 engine with an automatic transmission, power brakes, dual mirrors, Auto Meter gauges, and an AM/FM/cassette player. I'm somewhat of a purist myself but that wouldn't stop me from bidding on this "no reserve" Hudson. Reliable, too pretty to resist and probably a pleasure to drive.
In 1949 Hudson introduced its famous "step-down" cars, in which passengers stepped down onto a floor that was surrounded by the perimeter of the car's frame. This made the car safer, more comfortable, and greatly improved the roadholding, as Hudson proved when its racing Hornets dominated NASCAR from 1951 through 1954. The 49 Hudson Commodore 6 Convertible Brougham on offer comes with a Twin H-Power six-cylinder engine and column-mounted three-speed manual transmission. It has power windows, power top, and non-original power steering. A beauty, in my view.
When this 1954 Hudson Hornet Special 6 appeared, Hudson was in its last model year before being merged with Nask/Kelvinator. Which makes the car on auction rather special. It was the last "real" Hudson and with its rakish lines and 308-cid, 170-hp six-cylinder engine with optional Twin H-Power, still offered the style and performance that made the marque's reputation. Special Hornet emblems, hood scoops, exterior window shades and chrome wire wheels add to its uniqueness.
So there you have them, folks, six desireable Hudsons awaiting you in Auburn on May 10th and 11th. To see more of his Hudsons plus the rest of the John Soneff's collection, just click here. Then bid on one with my blessing. And, uh, a little envy, too.
[Photos: Auctions America]