Collector Car Corner – Nelson Creasy’s 1937 Hudson Terraplane Utility Coupe

Collector Car Corner - Nelson Creasy’s 1937 Hudson Terraplane Utility CoupeNelson Creasy, right, along with his brother Larry, left, show how easy the 1937 Hudson Terraplane Utility trunk cart is to operate at the recent Bloomsburg Nationals in Bloomsburg, Pa. These Utility Coupes were popular back in the late 1930s and offered owners easy access to items stored further back in the trunk. (Greg Zyla photo)

Q:  Greg I enjoy reading your columns and remember you wrote about what you felt was the first ever-domestic hatchback. You gave that to the 1949-1954 Kaiser Traveler utility sedan and sibling Frazer Vagabond from 1949-1951. 

I still have the column and you said these two cars had “all of the necessities to be called the ‘Godfather of the modern era hatchback.’” 

Collector Car Corner - Nelson Creasy’s 1937 Hudson Terraplane Utility Coupe
A promotional photo from Hudson shows that the ’37 Terraplane Utility Coupe could also haul cargo that would generally fit in the bed of a pickup truck. As long as the driver didn’t need to close the trunk and cargo was secured properly, this Hudson doubled as a pickup truck when needed. (Compliments former Hudson Motor Company)

Being an “old-timer” now in my late-80s, I remember Hudson had some kind of sport utility vehicle called a Terraplane back in the late 1930s. Do you recall this vehicle and if so, can you give some information on it? I remember when I was a kid I saw them and they had some kind of trunk opening with a hatchback style storage compartment.

Keep writing those old car columns as I look forward to them every week. David S., long retired, Montrose, Pa.

A: David, I’ve been holding you letter for a while now so I could get some photos of an actual 1937 Hudson Terraplane owned by Nelson Creasy, nationally renowned Hudson collector who lives in Bloomsburg, Pa. 

Collector Car Corner - Nelson Creasy’s 1937 Hudson Terraplane Utility Coupe
The Cars & Parts magazine from December of 1983 featured Nelson Creasy’s 1937 Hudson Terraplane Utility Coupe on the front cover. Creasy explained that he only paid $25 for the car when he purchased it many years ago. (Greg Zyla photo)

Nelson and his brother Larry were both at the recent Bloomsburg Nationals Car Show, in Bloomsburg, Pa., and I knew they would be there with their Hudsons. Luckily, they did bring the Terraplane you ask about so I can better give you and my readers a close-up look at the vehicle.

As you can see from the photos, the 1937 Hudson Terraplane did offer a model with a roll-out trunk utility bed that you remembered. Unfortunately it was not a fastback style like the Kaiser and Frazer models I wrote about but the Terraplane was still ahead of its time for sure.

Being that the Terraplane was a popular Hudson trim model, if you wanted the one with the miniature roll out truck bed it was officially called the Terraplane Utility Coupe, which Nelson explained. The brothers also had a copy of the magazine “Cars & Parts” from December of 1983 featuring their Terraplane on the front cover.

Collector Car Corner - Nelson Creasy’s 1937 Hudson Terraplane Utility Coupe
The Kaiser Traveler and Frazer Vegabond were the originators of the hatchback style popular in many of today’s modern automobiles. These vehicles were called utility sedans. (Compliments former Kaiser-Frazer Automobiles)

Astonishingly, Nelson told the story of buying the Hudson for just $25.00 back in the 1950s and then bringing it back to pristine shape. The “utility” part of the car was novel back then and featured the rollout trunk cart that he had displayed at the show packed with picnic items and a large cooler. 

The brothers explained that back then, be it a picnic, a family vacation or a day at work, the roll-out feature made it easy to access items that sat further back in those older car large trunk areas. If you didn’t mind not closing the trunk, one could haul much bigger items.

Although not a fastback, the Hudson Terraplane Utility was a forerunner to manufacturers adding convenience features to automobiles to carry more cargo. The little pull-out feature was like having a smaller pickup bed in the trunk of your Hudson.

In contrast, the Kaiser Traveler and Frazer Vagabond models both available starting in 1949, offered the owner a real hatchback style drop-down trunk, a flip up rear window and rear seats that folded down. (See attached advertisement). The trunk area featured wood skid strips that helped hold the cargo in place, and Kaiser advertising pointed to the fact that an owner could put a double-size bed in the cargo space, similar to a pickup truck.

Thanks much for your letter and comments, David and I hope all this information helps. Thanks also to Nelson and Larry Creasy for their assistance.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who welcomes reader questions and comments on collector cars, auto nostalgia and motorsports at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at

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