Sold for $30,800 at 2018 Worldwide Auctioneers : Hostetlers Hudson Auto Museum Auction.
The Essex Motor Company was formed in 1917 and made its debut the following year as Hudson Motor Company's 'junior' companion marque. It operated from the old No. 5 Studebaker plant on Detroit's Franklin Avenue. Essex was named after an English town and was financed and managed by top Hudson staff. For example, Hudson president Roy D. Chapin and other leading Hudson staff served on the Essex board of directors. Essex president William S. McAneeny was Hudson's factory manager, and top Hudson executives Roscoe B. Jackson and A.E. Barit held administrative posts at Essex.
The original Essex vehicles were powered by a 55 horsepower 'four' mounted in a 108-inch wheelbase and given angular body designs. They were relatively inexpensive while offering good performance and reliability. The first Essex automobiles were produced in December of 1918 as 1919 models after it had been delayed due to World War I.
Essex vehicles are credited with beginning the trend away from open bodied cars. They realized very early the interest in closed cars, offering America's lowest-priced version starting in 1922. Henry Ford is credited with creating the affordable car, while Essex had much to do with making Sedans available to the masses.
The cars were very dependable and won several hill climbing challenges including the 1923 Pikes Peak run with Glen Shultz driving. In December of 1919, an AAA-supervised demonstration test was executed involving an Essex being driven to speeds exceeding 60 mph at the Cincinnati Speedway over 50 hours and 3,037.4 miles. Four Essex motorcars participated in a publicized transcontinental run in August of 1920, with a mail pouch transported by each car and each driver sworn in as official letter carriers.
Essex sales were impressive, outselling Hudson two consecutive years in 1919 and 1920, and matching them for 1921. 92 cars were produced in 1918 as 1919 models. Over the years, sales continued to escalate and propelled the Hudson Motor Car Company into third place in overall sales for 1929.
For 1922, Essex and Hudson were merged into a single company. The Essex vehicles received a new wider body for the Touring car with front hinges and wider doors. Body styles included the Tourer, Sedan, Cabriolet and a new two-door, five-passenger coach. Mechanical updates heightened reliability and durability. The four-cylinder engine received a new cylinder head, a more efficient fuel intake, repositioned spark plugs, and a Morse timing chain.
For 1922, Essex shipped 36,222 vehicles to their dealers.
The Essex vehicles received minor changes for the 1923, followed by a controversial change in 1924, with its F-head 4-cylinder engine being replaced by a 6-cylinder of conventional L-head design. It originally had a 130 cubic inch which was soon increased to 144.5 cubic-inches, resulting in a boost in horsepower. The Essex Six was given a 3-bearing crankshaft, aluminum pistons, a cast enbloc intake manifold, and a Morse timing chain. The vehicles had a 110.5 inch wheelbase and a length of 156.5 inches.
Very few changes occurred for the 1925 Essex vehicles. During the year, the tire size changes from 31.525 to 30 x 4.95 and minor engine modifications were progressively made. Body styles included a Touring car and 2-door coach, which received a new appearance in March. Changes included a thinner windshield, thinner door posts, a re-shaped windshield visor, and a curved windshield base.
Essex sales more than doubled from 1924, with 159,634 shipments to dealers. This was 45 percent over Hudson. Part of the success was attributed to price reductions and detail refinements. Small number of Essex chassis were shipped overseas and given custom coachwork.
Changes were minimal for 1926, until July when the Hudson-bodied versions of the Sedan and Coach appeared. The Coach rested two-inches lower than the previous bodystyle, and both the sedan and coach had a nickel-plated radiator shell. Sales continued to be strong, with 157,247 examples shipped to dealers.
Essex continued to move closer Hudson in naming conventions and in appearance. For 1927. During the year, the engine was enlarged to a displacement size of 153.2 cubic inches. Part way through the year, smaller wheels were fitted and a full body length beltline molding was added. 6 bodystyles were offered including a Speedabout, speedster, coupe, sedan, Sedan Deluxe, and a 2-door coach. Pricing ranged from $700 for the speedabout to nearly $900 for the Sedan Deluxe. 210,380 shipments were made to dealers, marking the first time Essex shipped over 200,000 vehicles in a single calendar year.
For 1928, Essex continued to appear like a smaller Hudson. Bodystyles included a Roadster, Touring Car, Coupe, Coupe Roadster, coach, and sedan. Most were built in-house although Biddle & Smart were responsible for several of the expensive bodies. The engine displaced 153.2 cubic-inches and offered 17.32 N.A.C.C. H.P. Mechanical upgrades included four-wheel Bendix, three-shoe mechanical brakes. Sales increased again, this time to 229,887 shipments to dealers. Although 1929 would enjoy similar sales success, 1928 would be the pinnacle year for Essex, as the Great Depression would have a dramatic effect on the years that followed. By 1932 the company had become the Essex-Terraplane and, finally, just Terraplane.
This 1928 Essex Coach was purchased by the Hostetlers from a farm sale held near Kendallville, Indiana during July of 2002. Eldon Hostetler commissioned Pat and Jan Appenzeller of Milford, Indiana to perform the total restoration, with the work completed to concours-quality standards from 2006 to 2007. The Coach earned First in Class honors at the 2014 Eyes on Design Automotive Design Exhibition held at Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2019