Hidden Hudson: 1937 Terraplane

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This car was hiding in a garage for 47 years when the current owner found it, bought it, and got it running a few hours later. The formerly-hidden 1937 Hudson Terraplane seen here is in East Earl, Pennsylvania and is listed on eBay with a current bid of $3,150 and over five days left so get your votes, I mean, your bids in early and often! Thanks to Barn Finds fan, Stuart F. for tracking this one down!

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The Terraplane was a modest-level car from the fine folks at Hudson. They were made from 1932-1938 so this is one of the last ones made. You may have heard the most-famous advertising slogan, “On the sea that’s aquaplaning, in the air that’s aeroplaning, but on the land, in the traffic, on the hills, hot diggity dog, THAT’S TERRAPLANING”

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Here’s where this car sat since 1969, it looks pretty high and dry in there. The minds at Hudson thought that given the public’s fascination with all things aviation, the Terraplane would fit the bill, even if it was in the midst of the Great Depression. It worked, Terraplane outsold Hudson during the mid-1930s. They wanted “a very light car in the bottom price class, a vehicle which would combine style, comfort, and reliability.” This car looks solid to me.

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But, its success would ultimately lead to its demise as the top brass at Hudson didn’t like the fact that it was outselling the namesake brand. That, to me, seems like the exact opposite of how to run a successful business. Could that sort of thinking have played a part in why Hudson isn’t around today? Just thinking out loud here. It’s like if Apple were to say, “We don’t like how the iPhone is outselling the iPad so we’re going to get rid of the iPhone.”.. What? The seller mentions that this is an incredibly solid car with only two rust holes that he could find, both in the front floors. Although, there’s one lurking in the door. There are a couple of dents and dings, and of course there’s the chrome and trim to redo. But, I don’t know if I would restore this car, I love the way it currently looks.

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I could be wrong, but that looks like our friends, the mouse family, may have been living in that seat? It looks pretty flat, like the “stuffing” was carried out and put somewhere else in little bite-sized pieces. It won’t be a problem to have that reupholstered. The seller mentions a couple of rust holes in the front floors and that’s about it for rust-through so that’s a good sign. The rear seat looks great, a thorough cleaning and it should be ready for riding around in comfort. The dash and steering wheel look like they’ve been kept out of the sun for 47 years. I wonder if that beautiful dash could be cleaned up?

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The seller says that this straight-six runs great, but that the clutch is slipping pretty badly and it most likely will need a new clutch. I’m guessing that you’d want to drop the transmission and do that anyway, not to mention the usual: brakes, wheel bearings, shocks, new lines-hoses-belts, cooling system flush, etc. I think this is a Model 71 given that the serial number begins with 71, but hopefully one of you will know for sure. I thought that the Model 71 had a more bulbous trunk lid though. This would be a nice project to just get everything working, maybe fix the rust holes in the floor and treat and coat the rest of the floors, maybe some new carpet and original-type upholstery, and leave the body as it is and just drive it for another few decades. Would you restore this car or just get it working and drive it?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Rando

    I’d drive it as is, listening to Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues”….

    Like 1
    • Dale Case

      You beat me to the song !! Hahahaahh Yes , I’d love to make it a driver .

      Like 0
    • don clar

      I second that…

      Like 0
  2. Chris A.

    Amazing shape for it’s age. Also attractive body style. But where would you find any parts for it?

    Like 0
  3. Wayne Graefen

    Please visit “Terraplane SEVEN” page on Facebook to learn more about Terraplanes. We have no problem with parts through our community.

    Like 0
    • Dairymen

      Sorry I don’t do FB! What’s wrong with a regular website?

      Like 0
      • David

        i suppose if you needed Terraplane parts, you’d learn to do FB.

        Like 1
      • grant

        It’s not about knowing how it’s about choosing not to.

        Like 0
  4. George

    Drive as is after fixing up the basics. No reason to rat rod it, as it already has the flat black look due to age. Although the paint may buff out to an original sheen given the difference on how paint was done back then.

    Like 0
  5. wagon master

    Never thought I would enjoy a 4 door like this. This body flows and is easy on the eyes.

    Like 0
  6. Ed P

    Replace the upholstery and make it safe to drive. I would try restoring the original paint to a shine, but there is not a lot that needs to be done to enjoy this car.

    Like 0
  7. speedo

    These have an oil bath clutch so it might just need some clutch fluid. No, that is not like blinker fluid. It is a very smooth clutch when properly maintained. Proud Hudson owner.

    Like 0
  8. Matt Tritt

    The seller’s description contains the phrase: “needs replaced”. What in the hell has happened to some people’s grasp of the English language? Are linking verbs just not necessary now? “I’m going store”? “Let’s drive mountains!” Dumbing down is such an appropriate term.

    Like 0
    • John b

      Its called “local color” or the way we talk. Deal with it

      Like 0
      • al8apex

        ebonics is ok then I guess

        Like 0
    • Joe

      It’s a PA thing. I’m from NY and have done a lot of work in PA, and I’ve heard it a lot. VERY common way of saying “it needs to be replaced’ Drives me crazy too. The other one that’s even worse is “needs fixed”

      Ah, those wacky Pennsyltuckians!

      Like 0
      • John b

        Kind of like the way Staten Island sounds…

        Like 0
      • brian

        It’s an Arizona thing, too, I learned when I moved here and got a factory job. Very common.

        Like 0
      • Harold Wood

        Down here in Texas that would be “needs Fixin”.

        Like 0
    • Ed P

      I agree. I cringe when I hear a sentence ended with “at”. Where are you, is a complete sentence. “At” belongs in the answer, such as, “I am at home”. This is just a pet peeve of mine. I just keep “axing” myself the question, what are we coming to?

      Like 0
      • Jim Zemboy

        That’s a pet peeve of mine too. “Where is he at?” is so stupid sounding. It’s “Where is he?”

        Like 0
    • Keith

      It’s the way people talk in that area, I know I go there often and have become so used to “needs replaced’ and “needs fixed” I didn’t even notice until you mentioned it. It’s local colloquialism. The same way Mainer’s called a radio a “raddi-dio” or Brooklynites say “fugghitabout it”

      Like 0
  9. Mark S

    If you look at how rusty that floor is you need to know that the only course of action is a body off of frame restoration. As for the paint if you look at the pics of before he oiled the body you would see that it is quit rusty not patina! RUSTY. As far as I’m concerned this car is on the brink of being to far gone to save.

    Like 0
    • al8apex

      it was a used car “trick of the trade” to use kerosine to add “gloss” to non existing or severely faded paint, looks like this flipper is well versed in those tricks …

      Like 0
  10. charlieMember

    Yes, wet clutch, Hudson made the fluid, no idea what it was made of, but you had to add it, at least to the Hudson clutch I had, every 500 miles or so, but the gaskets were leaky. But a very smooth clutch, the one I had had not been driven in 10 years, added fluid, let it soak in, and worked well. I would repaint if indeed the seller has fudged it, and fix the upholstery, and the holes, and drive it to cars and coffee and other such not too serious car events.

    Like 0
  11. John Deebank

    Rule #3. No personal attacks.

    Like 0
  12. Jim Zemboy

    Here’s my two-cents’ worth about Terraplanes. I was born in 1943–four or five years after the last cars made by Hudson were called Terraplanes, and when I was a kid aged between 5 and 15 (1948 to 1958) I never even HEARD the word Terraplane in the car conversations of my dad and uncles. By then the Terraplane car was evidently a dim memory.

    However, we lived in Detroit and there was a race track in a suburb (I think it was Warren Township or Hazel Park) called “Motor City Speedway.” There were “old model stock car races” three nights a week–like Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday–and they were televised but anybody who wanted to could go to the Speedway and watch the action live, and we often did that. “Old model” was defined as “no more recent than 1948.” We sat on bleachers but took comfortable cushions along!

    So let’s say it’s a summer night in 1953 and we’re watching one race after another. Those races were exciting because there were always quite a few smash-ups, cars turning over etc. but none of the drivers ever seemed to get hurt. On Saturday there was an extra feature: “Powder-puff Derby”–all the drivers were women!

    The point of all this, guys, is that there were ALWAYS at least one or two Terraplanes in the lineup! I remember their unique silhouette–the sloping grill and hood–they were always 1936 to 1938 vintage Terraplanes. I had never seen that car model on the street and, in fact, not many cars as old as 1939, although the ’36 Ford was still seen in daily use, even for police cars in Detroit.

    Most of the rest of the cars in the races were Fords and Mercuries, probably because of the V-8 engines in relatively light cars. I don’t think I ever saw a Chevy or Plymouth or Hudson or, really, anything but Ford products–AND LOTS OF TERRAPLANES–at the “old model stock car races.”

    So there must have been something especially durable and fast about those Terraplanes for them to be 15-plus years old and still winning stock car races. My dad told me “They were made by Hudson,” and that was all I ever knew about them. Anyway they must have been good performers.

    Like 0

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