Car History Year 1928
Date: Sunday, September 26 @ 22:23:19 UTC
When the Hudson Motor Car Company were looking to name their cheaper range of four cylinder models planned for a 1919 launch, a map of England was used to find a name with a more up-market appeal. It seemed a strange notion as the car bearing the new badge was to be aimed at the low-buck Model T end of the market, but they finally settled on "Essex" - a county to the east of London. The Hudson people could have also saved themselves the bother of finding a map when you consider that there are towns and counties called Essex in the states of New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts and Delaware among others. The choice is even more surprising when you consider that at least three other auto manufacturers called Essex had been launched in the USA.
Whatever the reasons, Essex it was, and although less than a hundred cars were produced in 1918, production leapt the following year and almost 22,000 cars were delivered to the dealers. The most notable thing about Essex in the Twenties was the pricing of its closed models. In an age when open-top cars were generally more popular, and consequently cheaper, Essex made its name producing closed coachwork models for a fraction of the price charged by other manufacturers.
At $1,495, the 1922 Essex four-passenger coach model was the cheapest closed car in America, generating headlines like: "Only $300 More Than Touring Model," in publications such as Motor Age. By 1925, the Essex coach cost five dollars less than the company's open tourer, although prices did equalize later.
Derided as a "packing crate" by the opposition, the Essex coach nevertheless showed the way forward, but the illusion that it was a car produced by a company separate from Hudson gradually diminished. The exemplary F-head 180 cu.in. four was replaced by an L-head 144 cu.in. six cylinder engine during 1924, and performance suffered as a result.
For 1928, Essex enjoyed its best ever sales year, shipping almost 230,000 cars to dealers. Described in some quarters as "low hung," the Essex styling closely resembled the Hudson, but on a slightly smaller scale, with a narrower radiator and a winged mascot replacing the old-fashioned motormeter. Other new styling features included wider fenders and cowl-mounted side lights, plus a shorter windshield visor on closed models. A major technical advance was the use of Bendix mechanical brakes on all four wheels.
Essex was leader of the trend which saw
88.5 of cars sold in the USA in 1928 being closed models, whereas less than a decade earlier almost 90 had been open-top - a complete reversal of public taste. While rivals like Chevrolet and Ford were still asking at least $100 more for closed models in '28, the Essex management saw that the future lay in producing enclosed cars as opposed to roadsters and phaetons.
However, the biggest news in the industry that year was the replacement for the
Model T Ford. After a shaky start, the Model A went on to become another success. Meanwhile, the stock market boomed, Mickey Mouse made his debut in Steamboat Willie - the first cartoon with sound, and Amelia Earhart became the
first woman to fly across the Atlantic. It seemed like everything was new in '28. , Certainly there was something now on offer from the Chrysler Corporation. Taking its name from the gallant, pilgrim band of colonists who first stepped on American soil, the Plymouth was to prove as ideally suited to the thirties as the Chrysler had been to the twenties. Without it, it is doubtful that Chrysler would have survived the upheavals of the stock market collapse. The new car was intended to compete with the bread-and-butter offerings of Ford and Chevrolet and was unveiled just
months after the arrival of the Ford Model A. The Plymouth was
launched at Madison
Square Gardens in New York, by
Amelia Earhart, in July 1928.
Dealers across the country
received the first prospective customers dressed as pilgrims. The car was new, but hardly ——-"groundbreaking in its design. The four-cylinder engine was based on the Chrysler 52, itself a development of the old Maxwell four. Innovations included four-wheel hydraulic brakes, a separate handbrake, full-pressure engine lubrication and aluminum pistons, putting it technically way ahead of its opposition. Entering a fiercely contested sector, the Plymouth was starting from scratch against the market giants. First year sales of around 50,000 would hardly have troubled Ford, who sold half a million cars, nor Chevrolet, who sold a million! By 1938 - it's tenth birthday - however, Plymouth was up with them, recording sales of 500,000 plus.
ESSEX SUPER SIX
Cast iron - 6 cylinders in line
153.2 cu. ins
Bore and stroke
2 11/16 x 4 1/2ins.
Sports; Coupe; Tourer; Sedan
No. of seats
c. xxx lbs
$735 - $850
Cast iron - 4 cylinders in line
170.3 cu. ins
Bore and stroke
3 5/8 x 4 1/8ins.
Roadster; Coupe; Tourer; Sedan
No. of seats
2,210 lbs - 2,510 lbs
$670 - $725
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