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Hupmobile, Raymond Loewy and Russell Snowberger Team Up for 1932

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  • A Vogue “Jumbo” Tire promotion in Los Angeles – USC Libraries photo.

Facing trying times for 1932, Hupmobile management pulled out all the stops and hired Raymond Loewy to design a new and distinctive look to try to lure buyers into the salesroom. Loewy created a look for the new eight-cylinder Hupp, which when compared with what was offered by other automakers, it was actually a year or two ahead of its time. The lines and shape of the fenders, the angled windshield and the bold radiator ornament gave the new car a look all of its own.

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  •      The Cabriolet Roadster – The Coupe – The 5-Passenger Victoria

For 1932, both conventional six and eight-cylinder L-head models were offered, five of which were carried-over from 1931. The new Loewy styling was used on two of the five straight eight chassis’ offered. In addition to the styling changes, there were a number of mechanical and structural refinements. High on the list was the introduction of an X-member in the center of the frame and a series of triangulated braces incorporated into the body shell that when combined made for a very strong and rigid structure. Illustrations above courtesy of Alden Jewell.

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  • Lowey and a model with a concept or show car – Hagley Museum photo.

Not resting with the fresh styling, structural and mechanical refinements, Hupmobile sponsored Russ Snowberger’s entry in the 1932 Indianapolis 500. He was given a new Hupp straight engine that he then race-prepared, added a bank of four down-draft Winfield racing carburetors, and fitted it into his 1931 racing car seen below.

Snowberger qualified in the forth position while setting a speed that was 2-m.p.h. faster than when his car was Studebaker-powered the year before. He finished the race on the lead lap in fifth place behind three Miller-powered cars and a Studebaker Factory prepared car. The engine was later installed in the Bonneville Hupp that has been reported to have set a speed of 146 m.p.h. on the Salt Flats.


16 responses to “Hupmobile, Raymond Loewy and Russell Snowberger Team Up for 1932

  1. The Hupp engine that Snowberger was provided was not a production Hupp engine. The engine survives and is in a car restored by Snowberger’s son John. Last time I saw car it was at the Miller meet owned by Dana Mecum.

    • Sales in 1931 have been reported at 17,500, the number dropped to 10,500 in 1932. It seems all the other car makers sales numbers also plummeted at the time so it’s hard to tell if the restyle was a success or not.

      • It seems to me that I’ve read that Nash was the only car manufacturer to actually turn a profit in 1932, albeit a small one. Through the rest of the 30s Hupp never reached 10,000 cars sold a year again despite more Lowey restylings. As a proud owner of a 32 six cylinder Model B Hupp I enjoy seeing these well designed, dependable cars still being recognized. Thanks for the article and pictures.

  2. The straight-eight engine in the ‘Hupp Comet’ was 361 ci compared with the 304 ci of the production units. This made it the largest engine in the race, just a smidgeon off the 366 ci (6 liter) limit for production engines. While Snowberger used a regular Hupmobile clutch and transmission, he equipped the car with Hartford shocks, Bendix brakes, Bosch ignition and Gemmer steering.

  3. Just to prove that lavish sponsorship is nothing new……….

    I found the following in the Antrim Review of June 9, 2011: Multiple auto manufacturers wanted Snowberger to drive their factory sponsored cars for 1932 with the best offer coming from the Hupp Motor Company in Detroit, who offered him $100 per week, a beautiful home to live in while with Hupp, a new Huppmobile roadster, full executive perks and plenty of space on the fourth floor of the Detroit factory to build his car. Thousands were spent on a short film about Snowberger and the new Hupp Comet race car to show in movie theaters across the country, which further insured his reputation, along with the 1932 Hupp Comet, were national celebrities.

  4. In Jack Fox’ history of the Indianapolis 500 the car is listed as tan colored, yet the car, as restored by John Snowberger, is currently resplendent in a sky blue livery with white numbers. As far as one can tell from b@w photos, the color of the numbers changed at some time while it was at Indy from white to black or vice versa. However the position, shape and silhouette style remained identical during the switch. Maybe these anomalies are explained in the book that he wrote about his father.

  5. In 1931 the Russell eight was tan with black numbers. In 1932 the car was powered by a Huppmobile straight eight and was painted blue with white numbers. I spoke with John to verify this fact. Jack fox got it wrong.

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