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Coachbuilt Bodies on Unusual Chassis

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I have an affinity for coachbuilt cars.  I think West started a topic on which chassis had the most coachbuilt bodies,  Packard, Duesenberg, RR, etc.  I forgot the answer.  Anyways,  The Dragone's have a Hudson in their upcoming auction that has a Murphy body on it.  Has anyone every seen this car in person?  I have to admit it was something new to me. The windshield posts don't say Murphy to me but I like the car.


Here is the auction text:


932 Paris Auto Salon Show Car

Complete 100% Restoration

Fascinating Design History


It is sometimes a very rare and minute set of circumstances that bring about a significant work of art.  When Michelangelo was given the task of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1508, it represented the right man for the right job at just the right moment.  The same can be said for Claude Monet, who in his life literally created the French impressionist period of fine art.  In each instance there was a coming together of the perfect circumstances that created something of lasting value.  This is where we find the story of a special-built 1932 Hudson.  The story starts with Frank S. Spring, who started work for the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California in 1923.  Of course the Murphy name needs no introduction in the world of classic cars as many of the great chassis wore a Murphy body with Peerless, Pierce Arrow, and Duesenberg to name a few.  It was at a meeting at the New York Automobile show in the late 1920s that Hudson President William J. McAneey met Frank Spring who suggested that Hudson let him design a coachbuilt Hudson Convertible sedan.  The two became fast friends and when Murphy’s business began to slump in 1931 Spring joined Hudson as “Styling Engineer.”  It was also at this same time that Spring wired his comrade at the Murphy Company Frank Hershey to join him at Hudson.  Hershey also jumped off of the sinking Murphy Company ship and joined Spring.  Hershey stayed with Hudson for only four months, but in that time their collaboration produced several show cars and design concepts that were as stylish as any grand motorcar of the day.


The story of this Hudson Roadster is as intriguing as much as it is interesting.  It seems that when the Murphy Company was in the process of closing its doors a small pocket of time ensued that allowed Murphy’s designers to produce this Hudson Roadster for the Paris Auto Salon.  With the Murphy design inspiration provided by Spring and Hershey combined with Hudson’s financial backing, this sharply styled Roadster gained many styling attributes that could only be found on a car built for the highly cultured European show circuit.  Quite simply, it’s the only one of its kind and stands today as a testament to the long gone Golden Age of the classic era of the motorcar.  


Starting at the front this magnificent Hudson carries styling cues that differentiate it from the average production car.  Hudson’s massive chrome grille is flanked by a set of Hudson teardrop headlamps and the height of the hood line nicely accents an extremely low profile windshield.  An elegantly styled V-front bumper adds a touch of class and Hudson styled cowl lamps are mounted just ahead of the handles on the rear hinged doors.  Large hood louvers provide cooling for the engine compartment and the classic roadster rear deck with rumble seat is long and perfectly proportioned for a car of such size.  


This Murphy inspired show car was recently discovered and has since undergone a full and complete restoration that has returned it to its 1932 Paris Auto Salon show status.  Indeed, a period photo of the car at the Salon shows it displayed among a sea of Morris and Triumph motorcars, none of which have the size or design elegance of the Hudson roadster.  The exterior has been finished in Dark Midnight Black with Bright Orange accents and the interior has been returned to its factory appearance with orange leather and Bedford cord inserts.  Rear passengers are treated to open air comfort in its comfortable rumble seat.  The interior also features a burled walnut dash that’s nicely accented with an engine turned insert.  Power for this Hudson comes from a 254.4 cubic-inch inline eight cylinder rated at 101 horsepower.  The engine compartment has been completely restored and detailed in every way and now presents as a work of art.  This magnificent car rides on Hudson wire wheels complete with wide white wall tires for a look that’s absolutely stunning from any angle.


It is only the most unusual of circumstances that can create such a masterpiece, but the brief union of Frank Spring and Frank Hershey at Hudson created this magnificent design.  With their roots from the Murphy body Company these two men may have been employed by Hudson at the time, but this did not stop them from proudly affixing the Walter M. Murphy badge to the body of this car.  Hudson looked favorably upon the design and even hired Briggs to build copies, but it all started with the man, moment, and machine timing of two men that made their exit from a failed coachbuilder in an era where times were changing.  So rare is this car that Don Butler’s authoritative book on Hudson states that “no photograph of an authentic example of the rumble seat convertible could be found for publication.”  For the ultimate in rarity, provenance, and exquisite design, this Murphy inspired Hudson is a car that reigns supreme as a custom coach built car that has no equal.     



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5 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:


Definitely good. Love it!




This car has a rock solid history.  When it was for sale for 250k a few years back I had some friends that laughed.  I knew the car would sell because it was how many one off cars are available?   People talk about there only being 10 of something left, which is rare in the big scheme of things, but having a 1 of 1 is a much bigger deal in my book.

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There are many examples of unique coachwork on non-Classic chassis; on Buicks the Lancefield-bodied '38 (?) Buick Special has been seen at many CCCA events, and so many others, Brewster Buicks to name just one.  I find this Hudson Greater Eight by Murray, owned by an acquaintance of mine a few years back, particularly attractive.  Another, I suppose you'd call it a series custom, are the Hayes bodied coupes found of '39 Chrysler, Desoto and Dodge.  I believe Glaser bodied a couple of Fords in the 30s as well. 


And to answer Alsancle's question, yes the ex-King of Romania Packard has been restored.  I have pictures and will dig them out later.


31 Hudson Greater Eight BT by Murray.jpg

39 Dodge Hayes Cpe.jpg

Photo by WG.JPG

Edited by Owen_Dyneto
Adding Lancefield Buick photo (see edit history)
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One of my favorites, but not likely new to anyone here. I figure it qualifies since the work was done by Duesenberg workers.   Although the original has been lost there have been at least a couple pretty faithful efforts to replicate the Buehrig Model A. 

Buehrig A rendering.jpg

Buehrig A pic 1.jpg


Edited by Steve_Mack_CT
Added pic after G.B. updated wheels and I believe made a few other changes. (see edit history)
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The boattail Hudson has always been a favorite of mine.  There was one in pieces advertised on here a few years ago but when I looked for it the other day I couldn't find it.   Ray Dietrich was working for Murray when that body was built and he may have had a hand in it.


The Lancefield bodied Buick was on the cover of the CCCA magazine not too long ago I think?

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Allied to this, I believe There was a Murphy designed phaeton that was used by Auburn in perhaps small but significant numbers. It had wind-up windows in all four doors.   In around 1960 you would still encounter the better performing American cars of the late 1920s in use as daily drivers in our state capital Melbourne.  One day my friend Cliff Rees saw one of these travelling the opposite direction to him on one of our main roads.   Cliff did a rapid U-turn , intending to catch the Aubun and invite the owner to our Vintage Drivers' Club. Cliff's Chrysler could embarrass things like Volkswagons  in city traffic then,  but he couldn't get within a bull's roar of the Auburn. The small eight Auburn was a 1929 8-90; and I believe the body was actually built by Limousine Body Co to Murphy design under licence.  The car changed hands not long after to a chap in the VDC;  But it coughed a connecting rod out the side of the crankcase, and was off the road for quite a while.  The 8-90 engine was similar to the earlier 8-77, but with a whisker larger bore, a better camshaft, and a more efficient Rickardo patent cylinder head design.   Some years later I trailered home the remains of an Auburn 8-90  sedan  which had thrown two connecting rods.  It seemed to be experienced in that, because on the opposite side of the crankcase a very large hole had been repaired by expertly replacing the ventilation hole by bronze welding the piece back in.  I could not tell why the damage had happened,  but I have kept the engine so I can repair it similarly and use it in the 8-77 when I get round to restoring the car.  I would like to give the engine another chance for what it has survived.  I know of another that had the same problem;  so if anyone has an 8-90  it might pay to examine most carefully the connecting rod bearings, bolts, and oil feed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you like custom bodied Buicks look at the Summer issue of The Classic Car magazine, the CCCA publication, it will be out fairly soon. 

Lots of good illustrations and stories in there , including a story on the London Buick selling agent and images from their sales literature from 1936 thru 1939.

My sincere thanks to all for posting what you have here - kinda like coachbuilt cars myself.

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There were not very many coachbuilt L29s.  There was the Hayes Coupe pictured here.  A Weymann,  a couple of Murphy dual cowls and a few town cars,  also a couple of Europeans bodies and that is it.


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In the interest of proper history, the "Murphy" Hudson appears in every respect to be a production Briggs body as shared with the '32-33 Essex-Terraplanes.  I owned one, a '33 E-Terraplane 8 convertible coupe with the identical body.  Even the "Murphy" badge is not one that was ever used by the coachbuilder.   The dual spares look absolutely silly.  We know them as a Dragone "trademark" of dress-up.   Many an interesting story has been created to add value to a production car.  We old Hudson aficionados do know the prior history of that particular car which for decades was a standard, admittedly very low production Hudson production line convertible coupe with body tag on the firewall "by Briggs", just the same as my Terraplane (sold).


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The "The windshield posts don't say Murphy to me but I like the car. " quote from me in the first post was a polite way of wondering.  Every Murphy from 29 on that I can think of has the clear vision thin windshield post treatment.   Without seeing it in person I will reserve absolute judgements.  Is the picture above your car?  I really like it.  I don't suppose you got anywhere near the 350k auction estimate on the one in question?  :)

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