CHASSIS NO: 820889
• Extremely rare with just two known survivors
• Long-term ownership and care under the World Famous Hostetler Collection
• Fully restored by Pat and Jan Appenzeller of Milford, Indiana
• Striking paint color chosen personally by Mrs. Hostetler
• Wonderful example of Murphy design prowess
288.6 cid F-head inline six-cylinder engine, 92 BHP at 3,200 RPM, 29.4 HP (N.A.C.C. rating), three-speed manual transmission, live front and semi-floating rear axles, front and rear leaf spring suspension, four-wheel Bendix mechanical drum brakes; wheelbase: 127 3/8”
While Hudson’s automobiles were always well-engineered and built, styling moved to the forefront in 1927 when it commissioned a series of prototypes from Walter M. Murphy Company, the renowned Pasadena, California coachbuilder. Six cars were delivered to Hudson in Detroit: a Landau Sedan, Victoria, Seven-Passenger Sedan, Convertible Coupe, Convertible Sedan, and Coupe. Chief among their cues was Murphy’s signature “Clear Vision” design utilizing thin window frames and roof pillars, adapted from Swiss coachbuilder Georges Gangloff, by Murphy general manager Frank Spring. While Hudson management liked the prototypes, Murphy lacked the capacity to produce them in the quantities Hudson required. The prototypes were then sent to Biddle and Smart of Amesbury, Massachusetts, which had already been building closed cars for Hudson since 1923. The closed Murphy body styles, except for the Coupe, entered production on Hudson’s 1928 Model O chassis, the longer of two wheelbases offered. These Murphy-designed cars were carried over into 1929, with the Victoria and Landau Sedan now on the shorter Model R chassis and the Seven-Passenger Sedan added to the new, extended wheelbase Model L, along with a Seven-Passenger Limousine and Club Sedan.
Although the products of the Hudson/Murphy/Biddle and Smart collaboration were very well-received and elevated Hudson into the styling and image domain of Packard and other premium American marques, they were short-lived, coming into existence as the world economy was declining and the age of the custom coachbuilder was beginning to end. Biddle and Smart was in dire straits, and Hudson declined renewing their contract for 1930, transferring all body construction to Detroit. Murphy’s Frank Spring too saw the writing on the wall, and by September 1931, he had left Murphy to become the first “style engineer” at Hudson, where his career would flourish over the next 25 years until the venerable Hudson nameplate was eventually retired.
This 1928 Model O Victoria is a wonderful and exceedingly rare example of the combined efforts of Hudson, Murphy, and Biddle and Smart. In addition to its design excellence and well-proven Super Six chassis and mechanicals, this Victoria also represents the shift at Hudson away from somber black paint on the fenders and chassis members to new lacquer paint finishes in a wide array of color choices. In 1985, the Victoria was purchased in upper Michigan by Hudson collector, enthusiast, and marque authority John J. Struthers of Highland Park, Illinois, who wrote about this stylish Hudson for the September/October 1986 White Triangle News. According to Mr. Struthers’ article, while some 2,300 Victorias were produced, only two were known left remaining by the mid-1980s, including this example, the only one known equipped with wire wheels and side-mounted spares. While Mr. Struthers planned to restore the Victoria, he eventually decided to sell it and a cache of extra parts he had collected. In December 1996, Eldon Hostetler purchased the car and parts for his growing collection, later having it fully restored by Pat and Jan Appenzeller of Milford, Indiana. Beginning with an overall sound, original car, the Appenzellers restored the wooden body framing at the sills, prepared the aluminum body panels, and applied the striking light blue paint – personally chosen by Mrs. Esta Hostetler – and added the period-style cane beltline accents. A grille guard, Pilot Ray auxiliary lights, cowl lamps, dual side-mounted spares, sideview mirrors, a steel sun visor, landau irons, chrome wire wheels, blue velour upholstery, flower vases, dome lighting, roll-down windows, a forward-folding front-passenger seat, and other desirable features round out this striking Hudson design statement that draws admirers everywhere.