There is a remarkable connection in history between Hudson automobiles and a chain of department stores. Both came from Detroit. Joseph L. Hudson is the common thread. Joseph Hudson had a very successful chain of Detroit area stores dating back to 1881. The Hudson’s stores were later connected to Dayton-Hudson, and finally to Target.
The Hudson Motor Car Company started in 1909. Roy E. Chapin, Howard Coffin, and six other Detroit businessmen founded the automaker. Joseph Hudson only backed the enterprise financially, but apparently his name generated such a positive image that they named the company after him. Chapin was the driving force, having previously worked in the young automobile industry with Ransom Olds, of Oldsmobile fame. Roy’s son, Roy E. Chapin, Jr., later ran American Motors, successor parent to Hudson, in the 1960s.
The company’s first car, the Hudson Model 20, was a four-cylinder vehicle selling for under $1,000. The company produced high-quality, affordable cars.
In 1919, Hudson introduced the Essex line of cars. They competed with the lower-priced models from Ford and Chevrolet. The Essex line was a success. It helped Hudson to become one of the top three automobile manufacturers in the United States.
In the 1920s, Hudson introduced a number of innovative new features, including the first mass-produced car with a four-wheel hydraulic brake system. The company also began to produce a line of luxury cars, called the Hudson Super Six.
Challenges, Merger, and Fade Out
The Great Depression of the 1930s hit Hudson hard, but the company managed to survive. They introduced a number of new models, including the Hudson Terraplane. It was a lower-priced car designed to compete with the Ford Model A.
During World War II, Hudson produced a number of military vehicles, including tanks and armored cars. After the war, Hudson introduced a number of new models, including the Hudson Hornet, which was a high-performance car that won several NASCAR races.
- Year Started: 1909
- Year Ended: 1958
- Origin Of Name: Name of Famous Local Backer
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Group of Detroit Businessmen
- Owner While In Use: Several
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Toyota
- Naics Code: 336110
- Location Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan USA