Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

I absolutely love this unrestored 1934 Terraplane.

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

Photo credit: Delaney Tracy

The Terraplane was first introduced by Hudson in 1932 as an Essex model.

According to ads, it was named “Terraplane” because it heralded something new and thrilling in highway travel, “skimming, dashing, mile-eating, safely close-to-the-road swift, smooth motion such as has not been enjoyed before except in planing on the water and air.

That first year, the Terraplane was powered by a 193-cubic inch 70-hp engine (the next year an 8-cylinder 243-cubic inch with 94-hp became an option). To drive home the idea of how driving this car was like “aeroplaning”, the company engaged Amelia Earhart to launch the new auto. Here is Earhart christening the Terraplane with a bottle of aviation gasoline instead of champagne:

After a record-making coast-to-coast flight, Hudson officials met Earhart at Newark Airport to present her with a new convertible coupe:

Earhart was not given the car she had christened, because that car was presented to one of the Wright Brothers, Orville Wright. How cool is that?

Hudson didn’t just have genius marketing moves like these, it also had an outstanding product. The Terraplane promptly began breaking stock-car records for both acceleration and hill-climbing (including a new record for an annual race up Pikes Peak).

Despite all of this success, Hudson decided to drop the Terraplane from its lineup for 1939. What a loss.

1935 Terraplane
Photo credit: Delaney Tracy


“Champion Flyer Gets New Essex.”  Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4 September 1932, p.70.

Kimes, Beverly Rae and Henry Austin Clark, Jr. Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1842. Kraus Publications, 1985.

“Miss Earhart Christens Car with Gasoline.” Democrat Chronicle, 25 July 1932, p. 12.

“New Car Awaited Amelia at End of Nonstop Flight.”  Somerset Daily Herald, 2 September 1932, p. 2.

Terraplane. Advertisement. Clarion Ledger, 23 March 1935, p.7.

Terraplane. Advertisement. The Dothan Eagle, 23 July 1932, p. 3.

Terraplane. Advertisement. The San Francisco Examiner, 23 July 1932, p. 4.

“Terraplane Gift Delights Wright.”  Detroit Free Press, 9 October 1932, p. 10.

“The Eyes Have It.” Kentucky Advocate, 26 September 1932, p 10.

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