FINE DESIGN WAS A HALLMARK OF TERRAPLANE’S 1937 COMMERCIAL VEHICLES
Classic Truck: 1937 Hudson Terraplane
Terraplane’s Cab Pickup Express might look a little too jaunty for the job site but, by 1937 standards, this was a stout light truck. If you glanced under the rear of a Series 70, and longer wheelbase Series 78 Terraplane commercial rig, you’d see a thick pair of leaf springs—15 leaves in both—that lent these trucks a hefty ¾-ton rating.
You’d also notice the sturdy “Double Drop 2-X” frame—it was the same design used in Terraplane (as well as Hudson) cars, but it looked purpose-built for hauling. A pair of boxed side rails—71/8 inches deep at their widest point between the axles—were tied together with a massive X-shaped member in the center and a smaller X-member in front. There were also three heavy-duty crossmembers, including a new one for the 1937 model year, added at the rear kickup. The Double Drop 2-X frame was riveted together, while the boxed sections of the rails were welded in place with 142 welds. For added rigidity, the vehicles’ floors were bolted to the frames at multiple points in what Terraplane called “Monobilt” construction.
An 2017 ad in Hemmings Motor News, caught current owner Bill Stanley’s attention and led him to buy this 1937 Terraplane Series 70 Cab Pickup Express. The seller, Dale Bundy, spent 4½ years restoring the truck himself. When Dale purchased it, bottom right, an older repaint masked years of hard use. The lower left photo was taken years earlier, before the first repaint.
Today, of course, it’s hard to take your eyes off this truck’s low-slung stance and streamlined styling cues long enough to consider its rugged foundation. Just ask Bill Stanley, the owner of this month’s feature truck. He was sucked in by the seductive lines of a Terraplane pickup back when he was a kid. Decades later, he couldn’t resist buying this one. “I’d been looking on and off for one of these for years,” Bill said. “I went to a car show when I was a teenager and one of these trucks was there. I was so struck by how cool it looked. I found a few that had been hot rodded, but I didn’t want that. I was intent on finding an original truck.”
While flipping through the February 2017 issue of Hemmings Motor News, Bill noticed a perfect candidate in the Trucks and Commercial section. “I spotted this tiny ad in Hemmings, so I called the seller, talked to him, and he sent me photos,” Bill said. “I couldn’t believe how nice it was.”
A floor-shifted three-speed was standard, Selective Automatic Shift was optional. “Quick-vision” speedometer is surrounded by gauges for gas and temperature. “Teleflash” warning lamps monitor oil pressure and charging.
Bill took a trip from his home in Connecticut to Ohio, where the Terraplane was located, to see it in person. There was no going back home without it. “He was so modest about the truck,” Bill said. “He told me on the phone it was pretty nice, but when I got out there it was perfect.”
The Terraplane’s seller and restorer was Dale Bundy, a now-retired career body man with decades of experience. He’d never restored a vehicle for himself, but got the itch to buy an old truck back in 2005. A local Hudson collector had kept this Terraplane stashed away for decades and was willing to let it go, so Dale hauled it home. “It had been sitting in the previous owner’s garage for 30 years,” Dale said. “It had paint on it so it didn’t look terrible, until I started taking it apart. But it was a typical basket case once I tore it all
Dale stripped all the paint off the truck’s body panels, revealing signs of an older restoration that would have to be corrected. “The front fenders needed a lot of metal work, because years ago patches had been brazed in. So, wherever there was brazing done, I cut it out and put in new metal,” he said. “The spare tire well in the left fender was pretty rusty, too, but I repaired it.”
Dale also welded in new sections of cab floor as well as a panel in the lower back of the cab. Fortunately, the doors were solid, as were the truck’s rocker panels. The cargo bed of the truck, however, was beyond repair. “The bed was totally junk, so I took the original piece to my fabricator and he built an exact duplicate,” Dale said.
After filling, priming and hours of block sanding, Dale applied the basecoat, clear-coat urethane finish in a Ford color, Regatta Blue, which was a close approximation of the original Terraplane hue. Some research determined that bodycolor fenders would’ve been an extra-cost option on Terraplane commercials, so Dale decided to refinish the fenders in black. The original 16-inch wheels were powder coated in red for a touch of additional color—one of the few deviations from stock—before being shod with Firestone whitewalls.
Underneath, the truck’s chassis was sandblasted and powder coated in black. The three-speed transmission was sent to Hudson specialist Allen Saffrahn for rebuilding, and Saffrahn also reground the original camshaft. A local machine shop reworked the 212-cu.in. straight-six engine to stock specs, and Dale had the original accessories—starter, generator, distributor, clutch etc.—rebuilt before returning them to duty.
Inside, the original interior dash color was duplicated using a paint scanner, while the factory upholstery was matched with a swatch of material discovered under the seat. All told, Dale spent more than four years rebuilding the truck to its current show-winning condition, working weekends and evenings in his home workshop. “It was quite a project to undertake, working on the side,” he said. “I really got burned out doing body and paint work every day in the shop and then going out and working on the truck nights. You get to the point where you have to take a break for a while.”
Dale and his wife Margaret drove and showed the Terraplane frequently after it was finished, but decided to sell after a medical condition made it difficult for Margaret to ride in the truck. “I miss it, but it’s a lot of work to drive and it seemed like whenever we went to shows it was 90 degrees out, which was tough with no air conditioning,” Dale said. “We had a lot of fun with it, though, and I don’t think we ever went to a show where it didn’t draw a crowd or win an award.”
Terraplane six-cylinder displaces 212-cu.in. and is rated at 96 hp with 6.25:1 compression. It was sturdily built, outfitted from new with forged connecting rods and a forged crankshaft.
About a year after purchasing the Terraplane from Dale, Bill entered it in the Vintage Trucks class at the 2018 Hemmings Concours d’Elegance in Lake George, New York. The Terraplane hauled off top honors in the class, among a crowded field of nicely restored trucks. Bill and the Terraplane have since earned First Junior and First Senior honors at the AACA Eastern Fall Meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Even though this Terraplane pickup looks jauntier than ever and dazzles onlookers with its streamlined styling, it never lets you forget it was originally intended for work around the job site.
“It rides like a ¾-ton truck,” Bill said. “It’s bouncy but it drives nice.”