name is originally from the line of automobiles manufactured by the Hudson Motor Company beginning in 1932 in Detroi
(USA). The Jack Womack
book by the same name features one of these cars fairly prominently. The Hudson company had been making cars since the beginning of the commercial auto market, around 1909. Their vehicles were known for size, solidity and power, as the Hudson engines (which the company "insourced
" around the late 1920s) were innovative and unique enough to the industry to allow the cars to stand out, performance-wise.
The original lines were Hudson and Essex (much as today's GM controls Pontiac and Chevrolet). The Great Depression brought a sharp decrease in the budgets of Americans ready to purchase cars, and shrank their number. In an effort to keep sales up and operations going, Hudson brought out a new 'economy' line of smaller vehicles named, initially, the Essex Terraplane. The name was seen as a natural description of smooth powerful movement on land; if "aeroplaning" was to fly, and "aquaplaning" was to skim the water, then to "'terraplane" was to move quickly and smoothly over land.
The Essex line was retired in 1933, one year after the Terraplane's introduction, and the car became known as the 'Hudson Terraplane' or just 'Terraplane' after that. They were quite powerful smaller cars, and traded on Hudson's reputation for strict tolerances and quality control. As the 1930s moved on, and the Depression gave way to the war years, the Terraplane began to grow in size. By the time Pearl Harbor was attacked, it was nearly indistinguishable from its Hudson brethren, almost like the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable.
Although like all companies, Hudson interrupted production to manufacture armaments (Oerlikon guns and aircraft components, mainly) during the Second World War, carmaking picked right up afterwards as the 1940s pent-up demand and the boom of the 1950s fuelled a surge in car sales. The vehicles quickly began to increase in size and complexity as well as becoming more stylized with the era of 'streamlining,' and the Terraplane name was retired. Hudson moved onto the Commodore luxury car (as seen in 'Driving Miss Daisy') and the Hudson Hornet, which ruled the racing world for nearly a decade.
Hudson introduced many of the modern characteristics of cars that we take for granted. Their vehicles were some of the first to be 'closed cabin,' for example. More dramatically, Hudson was responsible for the movement of the controls to the left side of the car as a standard, in order to maximize available space. Internal handbrakes, dual brake systems, and more were all Hudson innovations. In 1954, Hudson merged with an old competitor, Nash motors, to form American Motors which lasted into the 1980s.
If you can find a Terraplane and can afford it, buy it! These cars are only appreciating now, and have a large and dedicated fan/owner base.
- The Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Historical Society at http://clubs.hemmings.com/hudson/hethist/hethisthome.htm
- The Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club at http://www.classiccar.com/clubs/hudson/hetlinks.htm
- Some dedicated owners at http://www.fgi.net/~tplane/
- Carnut.com at http://www.carnut.com/specs/gen/_huds30.html
- ...and various trivia picked up over the years.