1937 37 Hudson Terraplane original unrestored barn find For Sale
This car is (was, when it was in the USA) known as the ‘reference car’ for owners of 1937 Hudsons and Terraplanes who wanted to know what was correct and original for their cars. It has an AACA senior concours prize AND an AACA HPOF (Historical Preservation of Original Features) award. The HPOF award basically guarantees its originality, while the AACA Senior award guarantees its quality, because the AACA’s judging is known for its exacting standards. This car is the only one I have ever seen that has BOTH – I have seen a lot of cars with AACA Senior and a lot of cars with AACA HPOF. But, as I said, never both – until now. I had always wanted a 1930s car that was in unrestored and original condition and as close to perfect as possible. In 1996 I was visiting a friend in the dry ‘deep south’ state of North Carolina, and he took me out for a ride in his 1937 Hudson Super Terraplane (it’s actually a Terraplane Model 71 Brougham, because they weren’t officially called Hudson Terraplanes until 1938, and then only for one year – but everyone calls them Hudson Terraplanes, so I will too for the sake of convenience). Anyway, I was staggered at the car – not only the condition, which to use that over-laboured phrase ‘timewarp car’ really is one, but also at how it drove. We were going along at a ‘normal traffic speed’ when my friend asked how fast I thought we were going. I hazarded a guess that we were maybe doing 50… but no – we were doing 70! The car had such modern-feeling driving characteristics that 50 really did feel like 70. I was also completely blown away by the condition of the upholstery (original and very, very close to perfect), the door windlaces (perfect), the door upholstery (as close to perfect as makes no difference), the rear carpet (pretty much perfect), and the woodgrain on the dash (original, and again as close to perfect as you can get). I assumed at first that the car had been restored – but no, it was original. I estimated the interior to be 90% original and the exterior to be 75% original. The only thing I have replaced in the interior is the front mat, which had been replaced with a 70s tufted carpet, and which I have put back to an original-style reproduction fitted rubber mat. On that ride in 1996 I asked my friend if I could have first refusal if ever the car came up for sale. He had a large collection of original Hudsons and Terraplanes, and I wasn’t really hopeful that he’d sell it as this was one of the best. He had been acquiring original cars for many years when they came up, and had (still has) quite an important collection. Anyway, about 10 years later he called to say he was nearly 80 and was slimming down his collection a little, and would I be interested in buying the car? I didn’t have the money at the time but I said yes, if I could have a few months to sell some of the other (lesser!) cars I had at the time. Thankfully he waited, and in early 2007 the car docked in England. The car ran as beautifully as I remembered, but in the course of time it became evident that although the body and interior were in unbelievable condition, the engine had a few minor issues – it had a burnt valve, and my friend had told me about this and supplied me with one when I bought the car. However, I also suspected that there was incipient big-end (rod bearing) knock, and so we made the decision to strip the engine and rebuild it, doing everything that was needed to make it ‘as-new’. In the end we rebuilt the top end (valves and valve springs) had the engine rebored and fitted new pistons and rings, and had the crankshaft white-metalled as well – although the bearings had little wear, there was some softening and crumbling of the original Babbitt in places, and the bearings were ‘on the edge of’ needing redoing. So we opted to go for the ‘Full Monty’. We also replaced the clutch, because although it was working fine I NEVER put a part-worn clutch back in a car whose engine I have removed - it's just not worth it. I also had the starter motor rebuilt 'just in case', and the car has a new Optima 6V battery and a disguise case so that although it gives fantastic starting power it looks like an original. While the engine was out I detailed the block myself, although I have left the engine compartment and most of the ancillaries original, as they were so good that they only needed cleaning. I think the air cleaner has been painted, and it has what I believe to be a reproduction sticker on it, but apart from the fact that I etch-primed and spray-painted the engine block very carefully while it was out, I believe the rest of the engine bay and most of the ancillaries to have the original paint. As previously referenced, most of the exterior of the car is original and it is in remarkable condition. The only real sign of ageing to the paint is some localised ‘checking’ in places, most of which is so minor that it is hard to spot unless you know where to look. Parts of the car have been painted, presumably because of the aforementioned ‘checking’, but the paint match is superb. The only area that has been redone less than 100% satisfactorily is the roof, which I think is a very old paint job and is beginning to get some new ‘checking’ presumably because it wasn’t bare-metalled the first time. The previous owner also caught it with his garage door and put a scratch above the rear window, but I have opted not to paint the roof, as I prefer to keep the car as original as I can for as long as I can, and as I said the roof appears to be a very old paint job. Areas of the car that I believe to be original are as follows: doors, rear wings and quarters, boot (trunk) lid, grille shell, bonnet (hood) sides, left-hand side of bonnet (hood) top; inside the doors (shuts), inside the bonnet (hood) and engine compartment, scuttle sides, sills (rocker panels), inside the boot (trunk), firewall (bulkhead). Areas that I believe to have been refinished are as follows: wheels, wings (fenders), roof, headlight pods, scuttle top and right-hand side of bonnet (hood) top. And that’s it. All the rest is original as far as I can tell (and I am a former bodyshop owner and restorer of 40 years standing). The amazing thing about the original areas of paint is their lustre, which looks to me at least as good and as ‘deep’ as that on modern cars. Has there REALLY been all that much progress in paint technology over the last 80 years? The running board rubbers are also original, and that must be vanishingly rare, because these get so brittle with age that they usually crack and break. However, not these! I believe the windscreen and rear window rubbers to have been replaced, and the bumper iron rubbers look like good reproductions. The underside of the car is definitely original, and has very little paint on it – clearly, this wasn’t an area where the Hudson Motor Car Co. felt it necessary to invest a lot of money. I have not painted it myself, as this would destroy the car’s ‘reference’ status - it is in amazing shape and it would in my view be criminal to refinish it. I do not use it in the rain either (not hard, in this area), so the lack of paint on there is not a problem. As far as I can tell, ALL the chrome, with the exception of the windscreen centre post, is original – the bumpers, hubcaps, grille chrome and hood ornament, quarter light (vent) window frames, door, bonnet (hood) and boot (trunk) handles, etc., all look to be original and are all in virtually as-new condition (as I said, this is a timewarp car). The paint (names and dot in the middle) on the hubcaps is wearing off, and that's one area where I feel it would be acceptable to refinish the car, although I haven't done it yet (I have taken the hubcaps off to do it though - see below!). The famous red Lucite 1937 Terraplane ‘carrot’ on the hood ornament is in uncrazed and beautiful condition. I have added a few period accessories to it (wigwag light, rear ‘O.K. pass’ light, period turn signals, period fog lights, an accessory brake reservoir, period (and beautiful) license plate surrounds, a flower vase, a 6V cigarette lighter (which I fitted to recharge my phone with - until I realised you can't get 6V phones. Duh...), a period main beam warning light, etc.), but nothing I have fitted has damaged the car in any way, and if the buyer feels they would prefer them not to be there the car can be sold without them. The previous owner had fitted radial whitewall tyres, and he apologised to me because they were not ‘in period’. However, both he and I feel that they are an acceptable departure from original, because they are reversible if wished, and they benefit both safety and driveability. The car has a period Hudson heater fitted (the demisters aren’t connected but the heater works), a period Hudson radio which comes on but only buzzes, and two concealed antennas under the running boards (apparently to avoid paying for a radio license ‘back in the day’). The inside of the boot (trunk) is original, as I said before, and has a beautiful ‘patina’, the original jack and wheelbrace (lug wrench), and also what is either the original spare tyre or one from not long after the car was built. The car has fender skirts (‘spats’) which are supplied with the car and can be fitted or not, as wished (they are not currently fitted but they might be by the time the car is sold, as I like the way they make it look). The seats have always been covered, during my tenure, with beautiful original period ‘Chase’ car rugs, partly to protect the upholstery from wear and partly because I like the way they look. The car has a correct period clock, which came with the car but not fitted to it, so I have painted the clock surround myself to match the dash woodgrain, and I have fitted the clock (which mounts to the glovebox lid). It is not currently connected up but it can be if you wish. If you prefer the look of the dash without it, the original blanking plate is also supplied (I prefer the look of the dash with the clock fitted). The fuzzy-lined card interior of the glovebox is, of course, in as-new condition, and the glovebox light (of course) works. The temperature gauge doesn’t work but a previous owner has fitted an accessory gauge under the dash. As with the accessories I have fitted, this hasn’t damaged the finish or had any holes drilled to fit it, and can easily be removed. I am looking for a period 30s capillary gauge and bracket, but I have not yet found one, so in the meantime I have left the other one in situ, as its functionality is useful. The car is presently being dry-stored in southern France for the winter, but as the climate is so gentle it can easily be started and taken for a test drive, unless we are very unlucky and the salt trucks are out (not seem em yet this year!). If you are seriously interested in buying it I can pick you up from Lyon or Avignon airports, which are both around 100 miles from here, and the car will probably be back in the UK when the weather improves, around Easter (IF the weather improves around Easter...). I have an original Mechanical Procedure Manual which will be sold with the car, as well as an absolutely beautiful owner’s handbook, battery warranty and the rest of the owner’s ‘welcome pack’ undamaged and in the original envelope they were supplied in. I also have the original letter, framed and mounted, from the Hudson Motor Car Co to the original owner in May 1937, saying that they hope the car gives him a lifetime of pleasure. As I am the 7th owner it has so far seen 5 of us off (besides me the guy who sold it to me is the only other previous owner who is still alive, but he did know, or know of, at least two of the previous (and late) owners, who were longtime Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club members). If you would like any further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. The first and second pictures I have posted are recent ones and the second one shows the car in 2007 just after it had arrived in Europe. The hubcaps are currently removed from the car because I have a vague intention of redoing the lettering on them as a winter project, but I haven't got round to it yet! However they can be seen in the 2007 picture of the car, and they don't yet look any different now from how they did then! I have several hundred photos of the car, taken over the last 8 years during my ownership, and I can send you as many as you’d like. I can also take new ones showing today's paper or whatever, if you would like to be reassured that the car is as I say it is. It is currently in storage so the light is poor, but I can get enough detail in to show you that the car is as shown in these pictures.
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