1934 Terraplane Deluxe Sport Coupe - $32,900
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  • Overview & History
  • Specifications
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Today, as in 1934, it represents a lot of car for the money.

You could be forgiven for asking, “What’s a Terraplane?” after seeing this lovely 1934 Terraplane Sport Coupe. Introduced in 1932, it was initially the Essex-Terraplane, a lower-priced model designed to compete with Ford and Chevrolet on their own turf, but in 1934 it became a stand-alone brand simply called Terraplane. The name change didn’t affect the car, and it was so good that it eventually overshadowed parent Hudson, so much so that the brass at Hudson decided to kill it after the 1938 model year. Imagine: during the Great Depression, a car company deciding to kill their most successful line simply because it was stepping on the main brand. Imagine GM discontinuing Chevrolet because it was more popular than Oldsmobile!

At any rate, the history of Terraplane is relevant simply because it illustrates how well-received and well-built the cars really are. Nobody built an ugly car in 1934, but the Terraplanes are particularly lovely, offering sporty styling that’s just beautiful in person. Wearing a restoration that’s perhaps 10 or 15 years old, it is no longer perfect, but this attractive coupe still draws appreciative stares and comments everywhere we take it. At a glance, some mistake it for a Ford but you’ll note the skirted fenders are longer and more flowing and the twin beltline moldings would become a styling trademark until the end. And, parked next to a Ford or Chevy, this Terraplane is just a bit bigger in every way. Today, as in 1934, it represents a lot of car for the money.

Finish quality on the restoration is first-rate, with a nice gloss to the paint and good panel fit throughout. There are no major demerits anywhere on the car, although there are a few signs of age in the form of light polishing scratches and some chips around the hood opening that are all but inevitable. It includes wonderful details like the grille whose bars originate from a single point at the bottom—a very Art Deco touch—and the hood vents that follow the curve of the fender. Contrasting pinstripes highlight the car’s many interesting curves and moldings and the rear-mounted spare adds visual length that complements the fenders. Details like parking lights on the fenders, dual horns, and a metal tire cover all add to the upscale image Terraplane was trying to project. And all of it, from the bumpers to the paint to the top insert, is in very good condition.

The handsome mohair interior looks quite correct, using period button-tufted seats and simple door panels to accurately reproduce what was there originally. The material is durable and comfortable, if a bit itchy on bare skin, and the neutral color scheme works well with the external flash. The Terraplane breaks no new ground inside, although there are a few interesting details, including an instrument panel that IS the speedometer, with secondary gauges inside, something VW would copy decades later. This car also includes a separate temperature gauge under the dash—a nice addition since Terraplane did not fit their cars with thermostatic controls and figured that knowing the engine temperature was not necessary. That big nickel handle in the middle of the dash is for the pop-out windshield, and it also includes a cowl vent and a roll-down rear window, which makes for very pleasant touring without a lot of wind and noise. There’s also an under-dash heater and an unusual Arvin AM radio with a control head on the steering column (sadly it doesn’t work but it appears complete). And of course some of any coupe’s charm is the rumble seat, which is upholstered in durable brown leatherette and is big enough for real-sized people—provided they can make the climb.

All 1934 Terraplanes were powered by a bespoke 212 cubic inch inline-6 that made the Terraplane a great performer, with a reported 0-60 time of around 15 seconds (quite fast for 1934) and a top speed of 80 MPH. It’s also a tough little engine that’s easy to maintain and most of the hardware is still commonly available so it should be a snap to keep it in top shape. It starts easily thanks to an electric fuel pump that primes the carburetor (the car runs just fine on the original mechanical pump as well) and there’s a smooth idle with a bit of an edge to it from the exhaust. The engine bay is correctly detailed with silver engine enamel, a period-correct cloth wiring harness, and OEM fittings like the generator, fan, and oil bath air cleaner. The radiator is brand new and it has been properly tuned so it runs great going down the road. Despite having two fewer cylinders, this Terraplane feels every bit as lively as a V8 Ford.

The only transmission was, of course, a 3-speed manual with synchro-mesh now being an industry standard. The Terraplane breaks no new ground in the chassis department, with an I-beam front axle hanging on leaf springs, mechanical drum brakes, and a live rear axle on a second seat of leaf springs. This was obviously a frame-off restoration, and everything remains in very good order, a testament to the quality of the work. Of note, the original engine splash pans are still in place and a correct exhaust system gives the six a period-perfect grumble. The brakes are as effective as any of the period and ride quality is quite good, making this an excellent tour candidate. Wire wheels are a sporty addition and carry 5.25/5.50-17 Lester wide whitewall tires with a lot of life left in them.

Perhaps it’s time to take a look at some alternatives to the same old stuff. This beautiful Terraplane is just as stylish as a Ford, just as fast, and arguably more luxurious and better on the road, all for less cash. If you like the look, you’re going to love the way this one drives. Call today!

Vehicle: 1934 Terraplane Deluxe Sport Coupe
Price: $32,900
Stock Number: 115099
Mileage: 57,076
VIN: 398005
Engine: 212 cubic inch inline-6
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 4.1100000000000003
Wheelbase: 112 inches
Wheels: 17-inch wire wheels
Tires: 5.25/5.50-17 Lester whitewall
Exterior Color: Yellow
Interior Color: Brown mohair
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