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Lot 640
1931 Hudson Greater Eight Boattail Speedster

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Selling on Saturday Evening

Body by Murray

CHASSIS NO: 924469

• Exceedingly rare one-year-only production model
• 1 of only 12 built and just 1 of 5 known to exist
• CCCA and AACA National First Prize winner


234 cid L-head, inline eight-cylinder engine, Marvel type E carburetor, three-speed manual transmission, four-wheel semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension, four-wheel mechanical drum brakes; wheelbase: 119”


The rarest Hudson model ever produced; this 1931 Hudson Greater Eight Boattail Speedster was only offered for one production year. A mere twelve of these streamlined modern beauties were believed to have been built and leading Hudson historians know of only five remaining examples in existence. Evocatively capturing the most alluring aesthetic of the pre-war era, the Boattail epitomizes the allure of the Jazz Age and exemplifies the apex of a generation’s design with its rakish windscreen, curvaceous fenders and tapered derriere. This particular car has excellent provenance and garnered National First Prize awards at both AACA and CCCA events prior to its thorough restoration in 2008.

The Hudson Boattail debuted just a year and some change after the stock market crashed. The Thirties hit the United States with the worst financial depression in the country’s history, but American automakers seem to have brought their A game during this decade. Whether this is attributed to the desperation of the times urging some to work better under pressure or the critical push to stay in business and draw the few buyers the country had left is up for debate. One thing is certain, the market was headed toward luxury and daring design before the stock market crashed. The car business just continued on its linear trajectory, and the hottest thing around was a boattail.

Hudson began producing an eight-cylinder engine in 1930, when the American automotive industry was racing toward bigger-is-better engines. With a widened bore and higher compression, the updated 1931 eight-cylinder, utilized here, delivered more power and better performance. With a 233.7-cubic-inch engine mated to a Marvel type E carburetor that delivered 87 horsepower, it was quickly coined, Greater Eight to differentiate from the prior eight-cylinder offering. Although Essex constructed a boattail via Coachbuilder Biddle and Smart in 1927 and 1929, it wasn’t until Hudson and Essex shared bodies that a boattail was produced on a Hudson chassis. The Boattail was produced only in 1931, making the Greater Eight Boattail Speedster the only true boattail that the American marque ever produced. The twelve-model production was so small that it never graced Hudson sales literature. The bodies were built by Murray while famed coach designer, Raymond Dietrich, was working for the firm. So, it is widely believed that Dietrich actually penned this spectacular boattail speedster, lending even more pedigree to an already impressively rare car.

This truly special example, Chassis 924469, was shown through the mid-‘90s to great acclaim. In 1992, this rakish boattail speedster garnered National First Prize victories at the Antique Automobile Club of America as well as the Classic Car Club of America with badge number 1770. Following a highly decorated show career, this rare Hudson was given the thoughtful restoration it deserved in 2007-2008. In 2010, it was brought into the illustrious private collection of Robert L. Byers who showed the car at the Concours d’Elegance of the Eastern United States.

Absolutely enchanting, the two-toned paint scheme of vibrant red above deep burgundy fenders, with accent pinstripes along the beltline, effectively highlights the sweeping fenders, dramatically pointed tail, and the tidy, cheeky rumble seat. Additional equipment includes matching boot cover, chrome driver’s spotlight, dual fender-mounted matching spares, weather-ready side curtains, and the eye-catching color scheme is only enhanced by the newly upholstered black canvas top and burgundy wire-spoke wheels wrapped in correct, blackwall tires.

Inside the cabin, the burled walnut dash captures everything that is to love about this period of design. With art deco-stamped steel-rimmed original instrumentation, matching burgundy upholstery complete with tailored side pockets, the elegant trim reveals master craftsmanship and a restoration that has held up very well. The 234-cubic-inch ‘Greater 8’ engine and powertrain are incredibly well-kept with correct finishes and all mechanical components present. With only five known survivors, this well-cared for Boattail Speedster represents the ultimate Hudson and is ready for another chapter. The Greater Eight Speedster was Hudson's sportiest production car to ever roll off the line. The example here runs and drives very well and will command attention whenever displayed or driven.

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