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All Original Driver: 1937 Terraplane Brougham

With the world mired in the depths of The Great Depression, it would take a brave automobile manufacturer to introduce a completely new model to the market. Hudson was a company that was renowned for its bravery, and they chose to bring the Essex-Terraplane to the market in 1932. In 1934, they decided to drop the “Essex” designation, and the Terraplane remained in production until 1938. This 1937 Terraplane Brougham is a barn find that runs and drives and is now searching for a new home. Located in Sonoma, California, you will find the Terraplane listed for sale here on Craigslist. The sale price has been set at $12,000.

While it is commonly referred to as a Hudson, the Essex-Terraplane and the Terraplane itself were seen as a stand-alone brand by Hudson. The company introduced it as an affordable alternative to compete with entry-level vehicles from Ford and Chevrolet. This particular car is the Brougham version, which features the distinctive long side windows. It is said to be a barn find, and while its Peacock Green paint is now showing its age, it is a promising looking car. There are no visible signs of rust problems, and the owner doesn’t mention any issues with the floors or frame. If it has spent most of its life in California, that will have helped its cause no end. There are a couple of minor dings in the lower panels, but these should not be difficult to address. All of the external chrome is present, and I suspect that most of it would respond well to a bit of work with a good polish. All of the glass is also there, and I can’t spot any cracks or cloudiness.

While the company marketed the Terraplane as an affordable vehicle, Hudson didn’t want its buyers to feel like they were making do with second best. To this end, they equipped the interior with a dash that was elegantly finished in simulated wood grain, while the upholstery was all mohair. The interior of this Terraplane remains serviceable, and if the buyer wants to drive it as an original survivor, I can’t see why this wouldn’t be possible. The seats wear aftermarket covers, but the rest is the trim it wore when it rolled off the production line. It looks tired and worn, and there is no doubt that it would look stunning if restored. However, it would be tempting to leave it as-is, at least in the short-term. It oozes character in its current form.

The owner supplies no engine photos, but he does say that the engine is a 6-cylinder. That means that it should be the 212ci flathead which produced 93hp. This power finds its way to the rear wheels via a 3-speed manual transmission. While 93hp was acceptable but not startling, the engine’s greatest strength in the Terraplane was its uncanny flexibility. The car could be driven in top gear at speeds as low as 10 mph with no complaints. The Terraplane could accelerate from 10-60mph in top gear in under 20 seconds, demonstrating this flexibility. It isn’t clear whether the car is roadworthy, but the owner says that it runs great. It might need some work before returning to the road, but the simple design means that this should be a straightforward task.

The Terraplane was an enormous sales success for Hudson, which was sorely needed in a world filled with financial doom and gloom. There were always rumors that the company’s upper management resented the fact that the stand-alone Terraplane was easily outselling any other offering from the company. In 1938, the cars became known as the Hudson-Terraplane, and the badge was consigned to the pages of history by the end of that year. This 1937 model offers its new owner a few different choices. Would you treat it to the restoration that it undoubtedly deserves, or would you drive it proudly as an original survivor?


  1. IkeyHeyman

    Very cool car, you don’t see these very often. Note that it has two necker’s knobs!

    Like 9
    • Al

      What is a knacker knob?
      Does it hit your knackers or what?

      Like 4
      • Barry Duncan

        The necker knobs are the two round attachments on the steering wheel. They were referred to by that slang name because you could neck with your girlfriend and steer with the other.

        Like 4
    • Lance G Nord

      I always knew them as suicide knobs. The old school metal ones hurt like a motherf____r if it hit your arm when the steering wheel is spinning but they’re an awesome addition in a heavy vehicle that doesn’t have power steering.

      Like 8
    • David Taylor

      60+ years ago I loved putting a necker nob on my car. One hand steering and one hand feeling. Of course, that went the way of dinosaurs when bucket seats became popular. What memories! Looking at the pix, it seems I can even smell the dusty interior.

      Like 7

    Profit or not, restoring this would be a labor of love. I would drive it like this just for fun while I gathered the fabric, rubber, paint and other restoration supplies then dive into a factory correct like new restoration. Resale value be damned.

    Like 16
  3. Fred W

    0-60 in under 20 seconds without shifting gears? Hmmmmm….

    Like 2
  4. Derek

    That’s really nice.

    Like 1
  5. Kenneth Carney

    My Granddad bought Hudsons til they
    stopped makin’ ’em and yes, he owned
    at least two that I knew of–a ’35 and a
    ’37. Both of which were 4-doors. Mom
    told me a story of how my uncle knocked one out of gear causing it to roll backwards into the street in front of
    their house in the early ’40s. Unc’ was a
    little guy back then and was playing in the car when it happened. Granddad
    would go on to buy several
    Commodores and a ’52 Hornet before
    he could no longer buy them new. After
    that, he tried Fords before finally switching to GM products in the early
    ’60s. His last car was a ’69 Buick 4-door
    hardtop that he drove til he passed away in ’73. To this day, I still recall
    riding in the Hornet as a small boy in
    the ’50s and to me that thing was huge!
    They sure don’t make ’em like that anymore!

    Like 8
    • David Taylor

      Don’t forget the theme song!

      Rockin’ and rollin’ in a Hornet
      Singin’ this song all day
      Rockin; and rollin; in a Hornet
      Guess I was born that way

      not real sure about that second line

      Like 0
  6. HC Member

    What a fair price for a great and unusual car. Would love to drive it as is as long as I could get the brakes and mechanicals working well.

    Like 2
  7. CaCarDude

    Already deleted from CL, seller must have scored a buyer. Odd thing there was a “37hudson” personalized front plate on the car and the rear was a newer numbered white plate.. Overall this nice old Hudson is one I would have fixed all the mechanicals and just driven as she was. Back in the early 60’s I drove a ’37 Dodge coupe to HS, good times!
    Oh, also those necker knobs or Suicide knobs as most knew them by were outlawed or illegal in CA. At least that is what I heard many years back.

    Like 3
    • Steve RM

      In Oregon also. I worked in a parts store and we sold them as “tractor knobs” for “off road use only.

      Like 1
  8. luke arnott Member

    Hudson offered 2 6 cylinder engines in 1937.The smaller one was under 3 litres in capacity.

    Like 0
  9. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Very funky rear end. It’s definitely cool

    Like 1
  10. Neal in Boston

    Cool car.
    My neighbor here in Boston is a Hudson/ Terraplane fan and has several, including a model like this. Also an original, unrestored driver. I love seeing it around. Similar color to this car as well.
    Wish I could still share photos here through the comments and I’d show it.

    Like 0
  11. chrlsful

    I like Jack’s attitude as much as I like the car.
    Hudson’s were still on the rd in my toddlerhood (childada ’50s/60s). The pre-AMC was either a Hornet or Hollywood I think.
    All the ’50s seemed like ‘bulge-mo-biles’ to me. My eyes sought out someada Brits of the era and all of the Italians back then. They matched what we called ‘the classics’ mid/late ’30s – late 40s (many usa) models ( cord, auburn, dusey, delahaye, MB, tatra, etc).

    Like 0
  12. Malcolm Boyes

    My buddy Dave Bonbright must know this car as he is the Hudson guru here in Sonoma..I’ll ask him about it tonight. He has the real “Doc” Hudson car that Pixar used to model the Paul Newman voiced “Doc” in “Cars”..what a treat that is to see parked on the Plaza ( Google and find it on a whole episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage”). I cant believe I have never seen this around town as it looks as though its driven. Either way..I would leave this exactly as is and get it running well and enjoy..

    Like 1
  13. John A Bianchi

    I bet if you pull those seat covers off the seats will look like new.

    Like 1
  14. wardww

    I am betting that that paintwork could be rescued with the right treatment and skills.

    Like 0
  15. Kenn

    Finally, a car here with a fair asking price, and no comments whining about numbers matching or original miles, patina, dust, etc. etc. Would that more ads were like this.

    Like 1
  16. GCS Member

    That is a really nice car. I’m not familiar with Hudson’s at all but I love the interior. The only people who can legally get suicide knobs are the disabled. I was told they were illegal since if you hit something and it goes into your chest, you were dead.

    Like 0
    • Steve RM

      I heard it was because if the wheel whipped back on you quickly it cold break your wrist.

      Like 1
  17. Wayne from oz

    Here is a better one, and what’s more it’s got 4 doors. Twice as good.


    Like 2
  18. Bobvair

    Neckers Knobs or Suicide Knobs, I’ve heard them referred to as Brodie Knobs. Get up to speed on dirt or gravel and crank that wheel over with that knob to do a sliding Brodie turn. Might be a regional thing, Northeast US

    Like 1
  19. John

    Also steering knobs, had one on my 67 Divco truck, worked, got it from a J. Deere dealer, heavier duty.

    Like 1
  20. Norman Phillips

    My first car was a 37 Hudson eight. Hudson, and Terreplane used the splash system for engine lube. A low pressure oil pump brought the oil from the oil pan to troughs that the rods scooped up, and flung to oil galleries built in the block to oil main and cam bearings. They had a clutch plate with cork pads, gotta be the smoothest clutch on the market then.
    Because of the splash system, it wasn’t recommended to idle for any length of time because not enough oil was flung to the wrist pins.
    I would let it idle in high gear and get out and walk along side of the car. When I got back in I would just accelerate in high without any shaking or sputtering.
    It had babbet bearings, and I had the rods re-poured and drilled offset to raise the compression. That made a significant increase in power since the octane of gas had been raised by the time I obtained the car.

    Like 1

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