1911 Hudson Racer

Like so many early-20th century automakers, the story of Hudson is that of the enduring entrepreneurial spirit. The brainchild of visionary Roy D. Chapin and financier, department-store magnate, and namesake Joseph L. Hudson, the nascent automaker proved something of an overnight success. Hudson’s robust and remarkably affordable Model 20 sold 4,508 units during the marque’s 1909-1910 launch, the best first year of production in the history of the American automotive industry and enough to make Hudson the 17th highest volume automaker—an astonishing feat when you consider 1909 saw 272 registered automakers in the United States.

It took just a few months to outgrow Hudson’s first factory. Hudson’s reasonably priced, consciously-engineered cars established a loyal customer base, particularly in 1913 when the automaker launched its first six-cylinder engine in the Model 54. Hudson’s 1916 “Super Six” powertrain was the first to use a balanced crankshaft in a production car and would soon become a signature for the automaker, offering significantly more power and refinement than the competition’s traditional four-cylinder hearts.

Production peaked at just over 300,000 units sold in 1929, making Hudson the third-largest American automaker behind Ford and Chevrolet. And like most automakers of the time, it found sales success in speed; to the buying public, achievement in the crucible of motorsport represented reliability and capability—not to mention performance. In 1916, Hudson’s new Super Six broke records for both the fastest charge up Pikes Peak and for the popular “transcontinental” trip—a one-car round-trip scuttle between San Francisco and New York completed in 10 days, 21 hours, and 3 minutes. Decades later, it was the dominant Fabulous Hudson Hornet that affixed the automaker’s name in motorsport legend with a string of NASCAR championship wins from 1951 through 1954.

Before all these headlines, there was the 1912 Hudson Model 33 “Mile-a-Minute” speedster.  The starting grid of brass-era races were often brimmed with privateer efforts, usually either in something straight from the showroom floor, or a barebones speedster modified from something less sporting. Outfits like Mercer and Stutz capitalized on this competition fever by offering stripped-out, hunkered-down race-ready speedsters straight from the factory. Privateers could show up on raceday, unbolt the fenders and running boards for less weight, and run the full event before re-dressing the car and driving home.

These so-called “Raceabouts”—a term made popular by Mercer’s eponymous Type 35 Raceabout—were often exclusive and expensive, two things that Hudson was not. So, in the spirit of the automaker’s mid-grade position, it created a raceabout from the new Hudson Model 33 and priced it at $1,600—undercutting the premium Mercer by a whopping $1,000. Just like the competition, Hudson’s new raceabout did away with, well, everything; the open cabin design provides little space for stowage and zero protection from the elements aside from a small monocle-style windshield in front of the driver.

Hudson advertised this new sports configuration as the “Mile-a-Minute” Speedster, claiming a guaranteed 60 mph top speed, though in-period advertising mentioned the car was “faster than its name implies.” Fundamentally, each Speedster carries the same mechanical backbone as the rest of the Model 33 lineup, including a Continental-built 226ci (3.7-liter) inline-four cylinder good for 33 brake horsepower and backed by a three-speed sliding “crashbox” transmission carrying Hudson’s innovative oil-bathed cork clutch designed for smoothing shift engagement.

These raceabouts are evocative, romantic cars representing a wholly bygone era of both touring and motorsport, and the genre’s low-production numbers keep modern values high. Of the 5,708 Model 33s produced, it’s estimated only a tiny fraction were ordered in Mile-a-Minute specification during 1912.

This particular 1911 Hudson Type 33 Speedster on offer is one of a handful of faithful recreations done in the spirit of the original and very rare Mile-a-Minute. According to documentation, it began life as a Type 33 with Hudson’s semi-closed Torpedo Tourer bodywork before a WWII-era conversion to a pickup truck to qualify for the vaunted “Class T” wartime ration card that allowed for unlimited fill-ups.

With originality already exhausted, the Hudson was restored in the 1960s into the desirable speedster configuration it presents as today, and has enjoyed consistent exercise since as a sporting tourer and regular show car. Much of the car is richly patinated, with browned brass touchpoints and natural burnishing on interior fixtures and fasteners that is both irreplicable and warm in a way a full restoration could never be. Aside from the highly stripped-down coachwork, this conversion included installation of a well-preserved wooden trunk, large “speedster” tank behind the leather seats, dual rear-mounted spare tires, and artillery-style wooden wheels.

Accessories on chassis no. 10188 including the kerosene cowl lamps, 60-mph speedometer, dash clock, C.M. Hall headlights, American Lamp Co. searchlight, and acetylene generator. The 226ci four-cylinder runs strong and is good for over 45 mph, more than enough to keep up with modern traffic and for spirited touring through the countryside.

The car arrives highly qualified for membership in the popular and vibrant Horseless Carriage Club of America (HCCA) and participation in all the events and shows held over the season. Previous ownership showed the Type 33 at a spate of notable events in the mid-2000s, and remains a desirable and competitive entry to a wide range of tours, rallies, shows, and parades around the country.

This wonderful 1911 Hudson presents a unique opportunity to frequently enjoy an antique sporting experience without fear of wearing-down a perfect restoration. We advise the new steward be prepared for local celebrity, as raceabouts of this fashion are tremendously characterful cars and command both attention and conversation wherever they roam.  And, in true Hudson spirit, it presents a remarkable value proposition against million-dollar Mercers.


Offers welcome and trades considered



Stock number 7524

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