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Chevy V8 Project: 1937 Hudson Terraplane

Hudson Motor Car Co. built the Essex as its lowest-priced car in the 1920s. But its sales fell way off along with most U.S. auto production when the Great Depression arrived. Yet, Hudson took the bold move of introducing an all-new car in 1932 to replace the Essex, the slippery-shaped Terraplane. They sold well for a while and would be a huge part of Hudson’s production in the 1930s (the car was retired in 1938). This ’37 Terraplane looks to have been sitting outside for many moons, though, at some point in the past 40 years, someone treated it to a Chevrolet V8 engine and GM steering column. Located with a dealer in Gray Court, South Carolina, this interesting car is available here on eBay for $8,500 (though you can make an offer). Thanks for the terrific tip, T.J.!

You must wonder what the conversation went like when the Hudson folks decided to name this car. Given the public’s growing interest in aviation, the “plane” part of the name was thought to have great mass appeal in those days, so they were halfway there. They even cooked up a clever marketing slogan for the no-frills car: “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 Terraplanning!” This must have been a fun bunch of guys and gals to work with. I wonder what was in the Kool-Ade?

Terraplane’s, in both car and truck form, were inexpensive, yet powerful vehicles that fit in well with the needs of budget-conscious buyers in the years following the stock market crash of 1929. With the Essex on the skids and Hudson needing to find ways to lower manufacturing and selling costs, Hudson’s CEO decreed that the company would produce “a very light car in the bottom price class, a vehicle which would combine style, comfort, and reliability”. So, the Terraplane design was hatched.

In 1937, the year of the seller’s car, a new coupe could be had for $605. And more than 83,000 Terraplanes were produced for that cycle of the calendar, with the business coupe like the seller’s edition being some of the fewest. This auto would have had an inline-6 engine when it was new, but a 1970s Chevy V8 (307 or 350 cubic inches?) seems to populate the engine compartment today. And given the GM steering column in the passenger compartment, an automatic transmission came with the deal. Plus other mechanical changes we can’t see.

The seller provides little information on how this transformation came to be or how long the car has been sitting. The body is rusty and dented (check out the undercarriage photos) and the interior, which has no back seat because it was a business coupe, is going to need a total refresh. So, what we have here is an older restomod that itself needs restoring. Would you stick with the V8 or try to find a 1930s Hudson drivetrain and go back to yesteryear?


  1. Dave

    Partially hot-rodded. Finish the job and enjoy the beautiful & classic style. Looks like there’s a piece of floor or maybe frame hanging down, but floor patches aren’t that difficult, and the frame: who would want it?

    Like 1
  2. Kenneth Carney

    Probably somebody’s street rod at one time or another. Maybe this car
    might be the one I saw in Rod & Custom Magazine in the early ’70s.
    I saw it in the Rods and customs at
    random section of that magazine. It
    would be really cool to bring ‘er back
    alive again and enjoy her as a daily
    driver. Bet she sure was something
    back then too. You never saw too
    many non-Ford cars at car events in
    those days so this car must’ve been
    a slight to see when first built. I’ve
    often wondered what happened to
    street rods after they’ve been sold
    a few times. Now I know.

    Like 3
  3. gaspumpchas

    Looks solid, and the seller is too busy bs ing about financing. Does it start and drive? Also IMHO priced too high. That said could be a neat cruiser, friend has a 36 terraplane with similar styling and its very nice. Looker over and make an offer. Good luck and happy motoring!

    Like 5
  4. Cadmanls Member

    No it doesn’t run and drive, there is no fuel line. Looking at that alternator bracket if it did at one time it couldn’t have been long. The transmission bracket is a piece of angle iron. This is more than a weekend clean it up and get it running. Was popular at one time to weld a Camaro front subframe to an older frame and things were half way home but can’t see it. Those do look like newer control arms and it does have a duel master attached to the fire wall. This would be a rip it apart and start over project. The one shot of the frame I have no idea what that glop is in the picture. ( next to the last ) it’s going to be a task to put this on the road.

    Like 2
  5. GT

    Batter box overtop of the distributor isn’t the best idea. I like orphan cars like this because you don’t see them often at the local car shows.

    Like 5
  6. George Birth

    This one is going to take a lot of weekends and nights too the get it roadworthy. Looks like there is no gas tank or at least no filler pipe and cap. So either way a new fuel tank will most likely be need as well as a complete interior. Considering overall condition, I think the car at most would be worth 1/2 of the asking price. Plus you more likely than not are going to have to rewire entire car to make it legal .

    Like 1
  7. Tom

    Love the styling of these cars. I’d like to have one but don’t think I have what it takes to restore one with the asking price of this one. Also, shipping across the states to the Pacific NW. Hope someone can get this and give it the love and attention it deserves. Best wishes on the sale.

    Like 4
  8. BONE

    someone “treated” it to a Chevrolet V8 engine and GM steering column. When I read that I thought it was one of Adam’s posts .

    Like 0
  9. Norman K Wrensch

    The glob looks like it could of been a battery at one time. Many older cars and truck had the battery under the floor along side the frame

    Like 1
  10. Bob “The ICE-MAN”

    The overall design and shape of the body are very attractive. A buyer would need to take the body off of the frame and make repairs to that frame, corrosion in some places is worrisome and it would be wise to strengthen it too. Remember it has a V-8 in it, between the rear differential it’s spring perches, working forward to the motor mounts, you could virtually twist the frame into a pretzel. The body repairs, proper application of paint, appear to be straightforward, interior is needing a total remake. There will be surprises, figure on $12,000.00-$17,000.00 to put things right and you have a safe street machine. Hence the asking price is about $5,000.00 too high.

    Like 0
  11. Gary MacDonald

    I had a purple 37 terraplane coupe streetrod . It was in Mike Adams rod shop here in west Palm Beach. It was in the background when the magazine did its shop tour of his shop . Awsome street rod , much larger than the fords of the time . It sure is tempting, but currently have 13 street rods and a couple of original fords .

    Like 1
  12. MikeH

    Looking at the quality of this “treatment”, I’ll bet this car never ran. A few cases of beer, a few weekends, a few frustrations and “ we never got it running right, so we sent it to the crusher”. If the frame hasn’t been cut up get a Hudson drive train and restore it. As it sits—a five hundred dollar parts car.

    Like 3
  13. Hank Member

    This dealer in Gray Court is just a few miles from me. He’s had a reputation for handling rough cars that are over priced, kinda what you’d want for a parts car. Went by a couple of years ago looking for some Kaiser and Packard parts…no luck. But the last few times I’ve driven by it looks like he may be trying to handle some more nearly complete stuff.

    Like 0
  14. Tom

    I looked closely at the “blob” and think it might just be a piece of old rope used to pull the car at some time. I’ve seen rope in knots that have been exposed to weather and the elements that look like this. Just a thought.

    Like 0
  15. Rw

    Check out the custom thermostat housing.

    Like 0
  16. Greg

    This is the kind of stuff we did back in high school (mid 60’s) with an almost zero budget. It kept us out of some trouble, took too much beer to finish, and it ran, for a while. But the memories and stories today are amazing. This isn’t a 40 coupe, but still could be a sweet ride if done right. Frame is shot.

    Like 3
  17. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    In the late 1970s I used to run around in a restored 1937 Terraplane coupe-pickup. It looked just like this one, except when you opened the trunk lid, sitting inside the trunk was a pull-out pick-up truck bed and tailgate. Pulling out the bed made it into a 6′ pickup truck! This was not an aftermarket conversion, the Tailgate had big block letters Terraplane [Or Hudson, I can’t remember which]..

    About 35 years later, I visited the Hudson/Essex/Terraplane Club’s National meet in Gettysburg, PA, and in a line of nice H-E-T cars was the very same Terraplane I drove years ago!

    One thing I DO remember is that car had a solid front axle suspended on half-eliptic front springs.

    Like 3
    • MikeH

      That’s the one thing that might save this car–It’s a very rare business coupe. That is, if it still has the roll out mechanism in the trunk. Most don’t. These cars were driven hard and thrown away young and only a few survive. I hate to see them bastardized like this.

      Like 3

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