One hundred years ago today, the first enclosed sedan-type automobile, a Hudson, went on exhibit at the 13th National Automobile Show in New York. But that’s not the only “first” attributed to the Hudson Motor Car Company, which began producing the cars in a small factory in Detroit on July 3, 1909.
Not only was the Hudson “Twenty” one of the first low-priced cars (sold for under $1,000), it was one of the most successful, selling 4,000 units its first year. The 4,508 units made in 1910 was the best first year's production in the history of the automobile industry up to that time, jumping to 6,486 cars the following year. By 1925, it was the third largest automanufacturer in the US, behind Ford and Chevrolet.
Hudsons were also the first car to equipped with dual brakes, dashboard oil-pressure and generator warning lights, and the first first autos to have a balanced crankshaft, which allowed the Hudson straight-six engine, dubbed the "Super Six" (1916), to work at a higher rotational speed while remaining smooth, developing more power for its size than lower-speed engines. In addition, Hudson transmissions used an oil bath and cork clutch mechanism that proved to be as durable as it was smooth.
In 1919, Hudson launched the Essex brand line, selling a combined 300,000 cars only ten years later. However in 1932, Hudson phased out the Essex nameplate in favor of the more “modern” Terraplane on July 21, 1932
In 1954, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation to form American Motors. The Hudson name was continued through the 1957 model year, after which it was dropped.