Sold for $85,250 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. Essex did not give a horsepower rating, but when they did in 1929, it was 55 HP, the same as the Essex four. 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.
Styling for 1929 continued in basic fashion established in 1928, albeit with a number of minor updates. In the front was a larger radiator shell, and the beltline now traversed the entire body.
This particular example is a Speedabout Roadster, which is believed to be one of five examples built for 1929 with lightweight aluminum bodywork by Biddle and Smart, of Amesbury, Massachusetts. The Speedabout was the company's most expensive model for 1929, offered from $965. The Speedabout had a rumble seat and was capable of achieving an 80-mph top speed.
This particular example is finished in red and black paint with a black 'wraparound' beltline molding and black canvas folding top with red piping and red upholstery. It joined the Hostetler Collection in 1998, and its known ownership dates to Maurice J. Curran, III of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, who placed it at the Larz Anderson Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1972. At the time, it was finished in light brown with darker fenders. Dave Mange purchased it from a sale held at the Museum. It remained with him for several years and placed it on display at the Owl's Head Museum in Maine for a time until it was sold to MBNA Marketing Systems. In 1996, it was brought to the AACA Hershey Meet, where it was purchased by Glen Weeks, who then had it restored before selling it to the Hostetlers following the Auburn, Indiana Labor Day weekend festivities in September of 1998.
This Speedabout is equipped with twin Trippe Safety Lights, 'goddess' radiator mascot, twin stanchion-mounted spotlights, wind wings, a rumble seat, and rear-mounted spare wheel and tire assembly.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2019