Ninety Years Strong: 1929 Hudson Essex Challenger

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In 1929, the Essex Motors division of Hudson Motor Cars was third in domestic sales, just behind Ford and Chevrolet – a pretty impressive task for a car company many have never heard of. Found in Willoughby, Ohio is this featured 1929 Hudson Essex Challenger two-door couple, available here on eBay with a current bid of $7,500, reserve not met yet, or a BIN price of $11,500.

Essex was a creation of the Hudson Motor Car Company in 1919. It was designed as a lower end/lower cost, volume brand. After 1929, Essex’s sales slowed due to the Great Depression so some changes were needed. In 1932, Essex introduced the new Terraplane model which helped lift their sales fortunes in the span of only one year. In 1934, the Essex name was dropped entirely and the Terraplane became known as the Hudson Terraplane which continued on through 1938. Hudson survived until 1954 when it merged with Nash and created American Motors.

This Essex Challenger is a true barn find according to the seller. Per its history, he’s the fourth owner with the original owner having sold it in the 1970s. In 90 years, This Challenger has only seen 14,000 miles! Best of all, the seller states that everything works including the six-cylinder engine, which is a 160 CI, in-line arrangement developing 58 HP and driving through a three-speed manual transmission. The seller casually mentions that he recently had this old Essex up to 50 MPH!

The interior looks pretty nice considering this car’s age. The upholstery is a typical velour type material, common in this era, and looks clean and untattered. The floors are in keeping with a car of this vintage, they are bare. The door cards/side panels look a bit discolored but all seem to be intact.

The seller gives a pretty thorough description of this Essex but doesn’t say much about structural integrity or body rot/corrosion other than to say the “body is solid”. From what can be viewed, the doors, fenders, etc. all seem to line-up well and there is no evidence of rust. The finish is 90 years worth of original and has held up surprisingly well. The seller mentions that all of the “wood” is good too but does not elaborate on what wooden parts he’s referencing and where they are located. It’s known that cars of this vintage still used wood components, particularly in the wheels, but I’d like a bit more detail on that item.

The seller tells us that he bought this Essex Challenger with the intention of hot-rodding it and then thought better about cutting it up to accomplish that goal. I’m glad he had second thoughts! Great old cars like this are a wealth of information about the early years of the U.S. automobile industry, especially marques like this Essex which are long gone. I, for one, would like to see this Essex restored to original condition, I think it would be a shame to do any less especially considering its originality. How about you, what would you do with this Essex Challenger if it were yours?

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  1. Jeff

    The body is reinforced with wood in many area’s including all the ribs in the roof, this was common practice with most manufactures until almost 1940.

    Like 5
  2. Jeff

    Lots of wood parts in a four door, the top wood alone is about $600.00

    Like 1
  3. Stangalang

    Back then the woodworkers had it going on sadly today its pretty much a lost trade..I remember watching woodworkers years ago and it was amazing what they could do with a foot lathe and a few different planes

    Like 2
  4. Wade Anderson

    Bet you don’t k is this the Franklin’s in the twenties had wooden frame rails all the way thru and some of them still survive

    Like 4
  5. Paolo

    Pretty sure the Essex was all steel just like the parent company Hudsons

    Like 1
    • jerry

      essex was a all steel body and the above thing about the wood in the roof, the fix here is use the shafts of hockey sticks , works perfect, thats what I used in my 31 essex coupe and this car above is a 2 door sedan not a coupe! chevs were the rolling wood piles body was nailed to a wooden body structure! mopars back in the day were years ahead of a lot of cars back then! for instance 20 and 30s plymouths!

      Like 1
  6. On and On On and OnMember

    2 bids, $7500, both the same guy………Hmmmm. Seems unlikely for a low end model sedan from this era that probably needs more than meets the eye. I wish the seller good luck.

    Like 2
  7. Jim Benjaminson

    Friend of mine had one – he’s deceased but the car is still in storage – hasn’t seen the light of day in many years. Good little cars in their day.

    Like 0
  8. Bob McK

    Now why would that same guy bid against himself unless he was looking for the reserve?

    Like 0
    • Paul H KellerMember

      Could be his second bid has automatic bidding room, if the auction is coming to a close.

      Like 0
  9. mike harrel

    I have never understood why Hudson dropped the Essex name. In the early 30s, Essex, as a low cost car, was outselling Hudson 3:1. So they drop it and bring out the Terraplane?? One of many questionable decisions made by Hudson management over the years. Essex was an all steel body, btw.

    Like 0

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