Terra What? The First Production Muscle Car

05 Terraplane

As Hudson’s Essex brand began to lose luster, Hudson decided to augment that line by introducing the 1932 Essex Terraplane. By 1934 the car was simply known as the Terraplane, so long Essex.

 Although the ‘36 Terraplane looks similar to big brother Hudsons, it was designed to be smaller and lighter. In 1933 the Terraplane was offered with an optional 8 cylinder, 244 cu in engine with a downdraft carb. The Terraplane engine was ten cubic inches smaller than the Hudson 254 cu in unit, but shared the Hudson’s crank and con rods. The Hudson had a bigger bore. As such, the 1933 Terraplanes were said to have the highest power-to-weight ration of any production car in the world. Sporty stuff.

1933 was the only year the 8 cyl engine was available in the Terraplane. No great loss, the ‘36 Terraplane was outfitted with a 212 cu in, 88 horsepower six, nearly identical to the Hudson 212 cube six that came in two flavors, 93 and 100 hp. The Hudson rode on a 120” wb and weighed 2880 lbs. The Terraplane had a sportier 115” wheelbase and weighed 2865 lbs.


06 Terraplane

Even by 1936, when one would have thought that the rest of the automotive community, especially Chrysler, would have picked up on Hudson’s ability to balance its engines’ reciprocating assemblies better than anyone else. Hudsons were known for their hill climbing ability, and due to their internal balance, the ability (some say) to rev far higher than competitive brands.

 The Terraplanes were also doing well in the dealer showrooms, outselling Hudson 86,791 to 26,356 in ‘36. But the Terraplane kept growing so that it was barely distinguishable from the Hudsons, so after 1937, there were no more Terraplanes, just Hudson.