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1939 Hudson Convertible

The 1939 Hudson – New Models for the 30th Anniversary

Hudson, a conservative independent celebrating its 30th anniversary, introduced fresh new styling and models with several improvements in 1939. Limited numbers have survived, and the cars are seldom seen in period photographs. Perhaps the shortage of cars both during and after World War II consumed most them and few have survived. Sales figures were up considerably to over 80,000 cars shipped to its dealers in during the 1939 calendar year compared to only 25,000 produced in 1936.

  • 1939 Hudson Sedan
  •                              A new front-hinged hood lockable from the inside introduced in 1939.

For one of the few surviving smaller automakers, it was its best prewar production year since 1925 when over 109,000 units were built. Comparing it to the 550,000 cars a year that both Ford and Chevrolet each manufactured in 1939 puts that figure into perspective. The two automakers out-produced Hudson by over a six-to-one margin. The year’s sales messages stressed its economy, styling, new Airfoam seat cushions, the new column shift, a new lockable rear-opening hood and safety.

  • Hudson's 30th Anniversary in 1939
  • Hudson President A.E. Barit top-left, production line workers and W.A. James Sales Manager bottom-right, celebrate the automakers 30th Anniversary with a broadcast message to dealers and distributors.

For 1939, the small automaker offered six new and different models, all equipped with L-head engines with chrome-iron blocks that started out with a barebones Series 90 straight six with a 175 c.i. engine. Next three larger and upscale Series 91, 92 and 93 straight sixes with varying levels of trim and a larger 212 c.i. engine were offered. For more luxury and power, the Series 95 and 97 were both equipped with 254 c.i. straight eights with 122 and 129 inch w.b. chassis’.

  • New Column shift
  •                                                       The new column-mounted “Handy Shift”.

The colored brochure illustration at the top of the post is courtesy of Alden Jewell, and shows the Country Club Convertible that was available with both six and eight-cylinder models. The three images below, courtesy of the AACA Library are harder to identify exactly as to which model is shown. The top image appears to be either a six or eight-cylinder Country Club Sedan. The center photo is identified as a six-cylinder Country Club Coupe, and pictured at the bottom is a sedan delivery that Hudson referred to as the Commercial Car.

1939 Hudson Sedan

1939 Hudson Coupe

1939 Hudson Sedan Delivery

12 responses to “The 1939 Hudson – New Models for the 30th Anniversary

  1. Hudson Motor Car Company vehicle sales
    1936 units built 123,266 this figure includes Hudson and Terraplane
    1937 units built 111,342 this figure includes Hudson and Terraplane
    1938 units built 50,270 this figure is for Hudson only as the Terraplane was dropped in 1938
    1939 units built 81,521 this figure is for Hudson
    So in closing Hudson Motor Car Company s had decreasing sales from 1936 through 1939 which is to say that sales at Hudson in truth took a real nose dive between 1936 and 1939.
    John S.

    • John, The sales fiqure I found in The Standard Catalog of American Cars painted a different picture unless they were incorrect or I made a mistake. I will recheck them later and post what I find.

      • David: I never questioned your production figures on Hudson but as noted my figures include Terraplane.

        The two sources I used was from ” The History of Hudson” by Don Butler published in 1992. Source two “Encyclopedia of American Cars 1930 to 1942” by James H. Moloney. This was published by Crestline in 1977.

        John S.

    • Shipment figures for 1936-1938
      1936 – 25,409 (Hudson); 93,309 (Terraplane)
      1937 – 19,848 (Hudson); 83,436 (Pass), 8,058 (Comm) (Terraplane)
      1938 – 43,682 IHudson; 6,588 (Pass.); 808 (Comm) (Terraplane

      These figures are from company issued documents. Note they are shipment figures as there are no known production figures extant. If there are production figures I haven’t found them and I’ve been researching Hudson for over 45 years.

      Alex Burr
      Memphis, TN

  2. In 1939 Hudson failed to turn a profit and reported a loss of $1,356,750
    1938 Hudson reported a loss $4,670,004
    1937 Hudson reported a profit of $670,716
    1936 Hudson reported a profit of $3,305,616
    John S.

  3. The second car I ever owned was a 1946 Hudson Super Six. The front-hinged hood carried over to it, but I believe it opened more deeply along the sides than the example shown. It had the 212 cubic-inch six along with Hudson’s famed liquid-filled clutch ( 1/3 pint of Hudsonite). Clutch chatter was impossible — but, boy was it expensive to replace!

  4. Re: the vehicle sales (or is it production) numbers, it should be noted that in the 1937-1938 period, the country sustained a setback in trying to recover from the Depression, so I imagine you would find most automakers showed a decline in those years.

  5. The problem with Hudson is that there are, prior to 1946, no known production figures. All that is available are shipping figures. These, from 1936 thru 1939 are as follows:
    1936 Hudson – 25,409, Terraplane – 93,309;
    1937 Hudson – 19,848; Terraplane – 83,436 plus 8,058 Commercial;
    1938 Hudson – 43,682; Terraplane – 6,588 plus 808 Commercial;
    1939 Hudson – 89,521 plus 640 Commercial (Terraplane production ceased in 1938)

    One problem with trying to compare shippment figures to others is that some figures are based on calendar year, while others are based on model year. The above figures are from Hudson documents.

    A full listing of shippments can be found in The General Information Handbook for Hudson Built Automobiles, a copy of which may be found in the online library (website) filed under “Other Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Literature”.

    Alex Burr

  6. Re the Hudson clutch an old time car dealer told me when Hudson spares were almost impossible here in the U.K. they would use cut down medicine bottle corks as inserts. They would then fill the clutch with engine oil. It worked and it lasted long enough to sell the car

  7. I owned a 46 Hudson Commodore 8. Overhauled the engine before being discharged from the Marines and drove it with my wife and 7 mo. son from Oceanside, Ca. to New Orleans. Remember the unusual engine lubrication system……the oil pump delivered oil from the oil pan to a tray above it. From there the oil was splashed around by scoops on the conn. rods and oiled the main bearings as it flowed back down the inside of the block. Sounds strange, but we made it to N.O. (1800 mi.) with no trouble.

  8. So did Hudson make 2 diferent models for 1939? Some I see have headlight buckets and a smaller center grill. Some have the integrated headlight with three grills. Anyone? anyone? Bueller?

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