1911 Hudson Model 33 Mile-a-Minute Roadster
Engine no. KK9244
Hudson was the right team, with the right idea and the right backing in the right place at the right time.
The men behind it, Roy Chapin and Howard Coffin, had worked together at Olds, then Thomas-Detroit and Chalmers-Detroit. While at Chalmers-Detroit they picked up George Dunham and Roscoe Jackson who were developing a light, 20hp, car designed by Coffin. Jackson happened to be married to J.L. Hudsons niece. Hudson happened to own the largest department store in Detroit, one of Americas merchandising landmarks.
Hudson signed up apparently after some familial encouragement for a figurehead executive position in the company that the boys established as part of Chalmers-Detroit. He added some very real financial backing. All this happened in early 1909, as things were getting hot in Detroits nascent automobile industry. Ford had worked his will on his investors and had introduced the Model T to the market. Billy Durant was in charge in Flint, building General Motors out of Buick. The Lelands, father and son, had capped Cadillacs success in the Dewar Trophy to establish the marque as The Standard of the World.
With a car named after a department store Chapin, Coffin, Dunham and Jackson entered the market determined to flex a little value-pricing muscle, offering features and performance that cost a little more than the sub-thousand dollar prices being touted by Ford but less than the prestige marques were getting for profit-laden Cadillacs, Pierce-Arrows and Packards.
The first 20hp Hudson was powered by a 199 cubic inch Buda side valve four. The triangular badge on its radiator signified Performance, Service and Value according to Hudsons advertising. The first Hudson was completed in July, a month after the first illustrated ad appeared in The Saturday Evening Post. By the end of the year Coffins sound engineering and Chapins inspired marketing had moved over 1,000 Hudson Twenties. The team severed its connection with Chalmers-Detroit, buying out Hugh Chalmers interest in Hudson for $80,000 and selling their holdings in Chalmers-Detroit to him for $788,000.
Howard Coffin and George Dunham hadnt been idle. They completed their plans for the first wholly Hudson automobile while turning out Model 20s in ever-increasing quantities, 4,556 of them in 1910. The company was financing its growth from cash flow, not outside investment, making the principals rich men in the process. A new factory of nearly a quarter million square feet, designed the prolific architect of Detroit factories, Albert Kahn, was erected.
The new Hudson was introduced in October 1910. Called the Model 33 it wasnt designated by its ALAM calculated horsepower (which was 25.6hp) but rather by its actual horsepower measured on a brake. The cylinder head and block of the inline four were cast together and the 4 x 4 1/2 dimensions gave 226 cubic inches displacement. L-head valves were arrayed on the left (exhaust) side with passages through the block from the carburetor on the right side. The clutch ran in oil (fluid cushioned, Chapins marketers called it) and the three-speed transmission was mounted in unit with the engine and clutch. Suspension was by semi-elliptical leaf springs at the front and 3/4-elliptical leaf springs at the rear. Braking was redundant with contracting band and expanding shoes on rear wheel drums.
Hudson offered the Model 33 in five body styles, all on 114 1/4 wheelbase chassis, but for sporting excitement the only choice was the Mile-a-Minute Roadster.
Stripped to the absolute minimum, the Mile-a-Minute offered not even minimal protection from the elements and the buyer got it for exactly the same price as the fully equipped Hudson 33 Roadster, $1,600. The things the Mile-a-Minute buyer got that no Roadster owner could acquire were: a guarantee the stripped sportster would exceed 60 mph, and; a 100 mph speedometer perhaps the first one thoughtfully provided by a manufacturer to encourage the driver to see what shell do.
With a forward-canted oval bolster tank with big, racy dual filler caps, dual rear-mounted spare tires, rakish blade fenders and a steeply inclined steering column, the Hudson Mile-a-Minute was an economical sports car that put stylish performance within the reach of a vast potential audience.
The Hudson formula was effective. Production in 1911 increased by 50% and by yearend Hudsons year old factory was being expanded, also by 50%
The Paine Collections 1911 Hudson Mile-a-Minute is finished in yellow with black upholstery. Righthand drive, it has C.M. Hall acetylene headlights, Castle kerosene sidelights and an E&J kerosene taillight. The left running board carries the Prest-O-Lite acetylene tank and a round tool box fits snugly inside the rear-mounted spare tires. Its restoration is aged, and not particularly well maintained. Some of the nickel plated trim (particularly the sidelight brackets and gear lever gate) are rusty. The paint is cracked and lifting badly on the fenders.
All of which means little in terms of the basic value and excitement of owning and driving this exceptional 1911 Hudson Mile-a-Minute Roadster. Its not a Bearcat or a Raceabout, but at 60 mph the sensation of speed, excitement and challenge will be just the same.
It looks good, too, and gives great value for money. That is just as Roy Chapin and Howard Coffin intended in 1911.
- Please note that this is titled as a 1912 model. During the viewing we have had confirmation that the car was formerly owned and restored by local collector Maynard Leighton, and received photographs of it at its time of purchase by Richard Paine, which we believe to have been in the late 1960s. We have however been unable to confirm categorically the original specification of this model 33 as a Mile-a-minute Roadster.
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