THE GANGSTER’S CHOICE
1934 HUDSON TERRAPLANE
One warm summer’s evening, John Dillinger had just enjoyed a night at the movies and was making his way back to the car, hat down across one eye, a broad on each arm, and the keys to his new ‘34 Terraplane in his pocket.
Boom! And he was dead on the footpath. If only he’d had his favourite Thompson submachine gun in his hand, instead of his .38 revolver. If only he’d parked the Terraplane somewhere else, like out the back door of the theatre instead of the front.
Terraplane dealers all across the US must have secretly wept at the news the next morning. The ’34 Terraplane was John Dillinger’s getaway car of choice, and, until that night, it had served him well as he had robbed and battered his way across central US. Such was his preference for the Terraplane that Hudson dealers even advertised the fact. One had hung a banner outside his dealership that read, “Dillinger chooses the ’34 Hudson for his personal use.” Ah, the US … land of the entrepreneur.
The Hudson Terraplane — or simply, the Terraplane, as it became that year — was the product of the Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, US.
Hudson had begun manufacturing cars in Detroit in 1909. The company was formed by a group of eight businessmen who had noticed very early on that the newfangled motor car was the way to go. They were immediately successful, selling 4500 cars in their first year of production. By the mid 1920s, Hudson was number three on the sales charts, and that was in an era when there were literally hundreds of car manufacturers in the US.
The company took its name from one of the original investors, a Mr Hudson. He owned a department store, and probably even sold toy cars, but at least two of the original group were ‘car men’. Mr Roy Chapin is perhaps the most interesting. He was a Detroit car-industry executive, and, years later, when the Hudson descendant