142: 1931 Hudson Greater Eight Boat-Tailed Sport Roadst
Series T. 87bhp, 233.7 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, suspension via front and rear semi-elliptic leaf springs, solid front axle, live rear axle and four-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 119"
Having made its name as 'The World's Largest Builder of Six-Cylinder Cars' by 1913, the Hudson Motor Car Company held true to the genre for nearly two decades. The 'Super Six' of 1916 was a tour de force , its counterbalanced crankshaft an industry breakthrough. 'The Super-Six Principle Turns Waste Heat into Power' read the ads.
By the late 1920, however, the marketplace demanded straight eights. It was the Packard Single Eight of 1924 that made the inline eight a practical and popular automobile engine. By 1929, eleven other manufacturers had them.
For 1930, then, Hudson readied a straight eight. Derived from the already refined companion make Essex Six, it was smaller in displacement and slightly less powerful than the old Super Six. However, the new Great Eight was 500 pounds lighter and thus performed better.
Hudson offered boat-tailed roadsters only sporadically. In 1927 and 1929 there were Essex boat-tails, and then again in 1931. By this time Hudson and Essex shared bodies, so a Hudson boat-tail was created, the bodies built by Murray. It was the one and only time this style appeared on a Hudson chassis, so rare it never made the sales literature.
Restored for a former owner, this Hudson had already won a number of awards by the time it was purchased by Dr. Atwood from a Canadian collector in November 1984. Dr. Atwood, however, was not content with the acknowledged prize winner. She consulted technical experts in the Hudson Essex Terraplane Club about the most minute details, like proper grease fittings and fasteners. Armed with a list of minor discrepancies to correct, she had the car completely restored by John Sanders' Antique Auto Restoration in Rockford.
The result was another AACA National First in 1985, followed by a Grand National First in 1986 at Asheville, North Carolina. Although not as grand as many of her Full Classic marques, the Hudson has been a consistent prize winner and public favorite, and comes with as many trophies as some of her Pebble Beach winners.
The car has been well maintained since its long-ago restoration and 1985 detail work. The boat-tail body is straight and true, its doors well aligned and shutting perfectly. The tan canvas top, new in 1986, still looks excellent today, courtesy of a clear plastic cover that protects it when the car is in storage. The orange paint, with brown fenders, exhibits a good shine and depth, and the brightwork is all in excellent condition. The interior and cozy rumble seat are upholstered in brown leather, and both compartments have brown carpets in excellent condition.
The chassis is painted gloss black and is clean and shiny. The engine is generally clean but could benefit from additional detailing. Like most of the cars in the collection, it has not been driven recently, so a thorough recommissioning should be carried out before committing it to road use.
One of the rarest Hudsons of all time, the Sport Roadster is also one of the prettiest, particularly so in its unusual color combination. A former owner of a similar car referred to it as 'a blur of autumn colors' when 'flashing down the road.' For this desirable motor car there is no better metaphor.