1929 Essex the Challenger

We bought a box of radiator caps the other day, and in the bottom were not one, but two, 1929 Essex radiator caps.  Back then, these distinctive, twelve-sided caps were described as “faceted in semi-modernistic design,” whatever that means. 

The full name for the automobile in ’29 was “Essex the Challenger,” and it was powered by an L-head inline 6. This label was conceived, according to the Hudson/Essex organization, when test after test revealed that the Essex could match more costly cars on every count including speed, acceleration, hill climbing and gasoline consumption. Dealers who had gathered at the Detroit factory for a private demonstration were so impressed by its performance that one dealer enthusiastically proclaimed that the new Essex could challenge anything, and thus a new slogan was born.

Every dealer in the Hudson/Essex organization took part in a National Challenger Week, putting the automobiles to every conceivable test and even taking suggestions from the public as to which tests the cars would be subjected.

In Wichita, for instance, an Essex underwent a five-day continuous run on a treadmill in the Mosbacher dealership window.

In Albuquerque, an Essex was driven the 302-mile stretch to El Paso in five hours and 57 minutes with state highway police clearing the way, and in Akron, an Essex was given to a traffic cop to use in place of his motorcycle for the week. In Chattanooga they focused on hill-climbing with demonstrations given on Lookout and Signal mountains. The subject matter of the following advertisement is all the new records set by the Essex during Challenger week, including a new record for climbing California’s Mt. Baldy by covering 8.05 miles of hairpin turns in 10 minutes 16.4 seconds.

The promotion was a successful one, and enough cars were sold to make Hudson/Essex third in the industry behind only Ford and Chevrolet.