Hudson Cars of the 1930s

Greg Zyla
Q: Greg, you incurred some of my best childhood memories when reading this history of the Hudson car company!

My dad sold and repaired Hudsons in the 1930s and on, and we loved those cars. My dad had a new Hudson model every three years, and  I learned to drive in that big boat and at first it felt like I was driving a truck.

Dad made driving the Hudsons look so easy, and he insisted I learn the clutch and manual shift on our Hudson Terraplane, which also came with an automatic transmission feature. When I mastered the clutch and shifting, dad let me "push the button" on the electric hand which activated the automatic transmission function on our 1937 Hudson. Then, with the automatic, I was really living. 

When I married and had children, all our cars were used Hudsons, which were always checked out and approved by dad. Our very last one had to be towed away, but not because it no longer ran. It had to be towed because the floor boards were rotted yet the motor still purred. When the tow truck left with our Hudson, my husband and I felt as if one of our children had been taken away. (Silly, yes, but the love of those cars was "born in me").
To this day, I still love to drive (I'm 80 now), and I still road-trip (CO, KS, TN, etc) Driving is a calming and pleasurable experience for me, only I wish I had one of the Hudsons of yesteryear with the automatic transmission.

I have an original Hudson Terraplane letterhead  that dad used as a comparison of which model to buy: Model 73 Hudson Custom vs. Model 74 Hudson Deluxe with all the specs: weight, horsepower, prices, and even the option of a 3-way hot water heater and defroster unit for $21.65, plus 65-cents tax, totaling $22.30. Now, how great is that?

Thank you so much for reviving my memories, and for reading my thoughts. I just want you to know how much I have enjoyed reading your articles. Most sincerely, Marge Kast, Wheaton, Illinois.

A: Marge, your letter made my day! Bringing back memories is what this column is all about, and I'm really happy to see that you still enjoy a nice drive on the freeway. The "automatic" you mention was called Hudson's "Electric Hand" and was a predecessor to fully automatic transmissions. Hudson's "Electric Hand," introduced in 1935 and utilized through 1938, was actually a Bendix designed vacuum operated clutch. (See the attached ad).

Check out the car shows around Wheaton this summer and chances are good you'll see several restored Hudsons in person. God bless you, Marge, and continued driving fun.
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