11-12 October 2012

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Lot 188

1929 Essex ‘The Challenger’ Boattail Speedabout

  • Chassis no. 1059468

Sold for $88,000

55 hp, 161.4 cu. in. inline L-head six-cylinder engine, three-speed sliding gear manual transmission with overdrive, semi-floating rear axle, and Bendix four-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 110.5 in.

• Reportedly one of five produced in 1929

• No-expenses-spared restoration in 2002

• Coachbuilt body by Biddle & Smart of Amesbury, Massachusetts

Essex production began in a former Studebaker plant, with the marque quickly establishing a foothold in the marketplace courtesy of several AAA records. Essex was early to recognize the growing interest in closed cars, offering America’s lowest-priced version starting in 1922. At $1,495, just $300 more than a touring model, one could purchase an Essex four-passenger coach. By 1925, the coach was priced five dollars less than the touring car and sold well, contributing significantly to Hudson being the third largest producer of American automobiles in 1929. In 1933, the Essex name was dropped in favor of a new model called the Terraplane.

Essex first offered its novel boattail Speedabout in 1927. After skipping the 1928 model year, the Speedabout returned for 1929. Hudson officially labeled the Essex for 1929 “Essex the Challenger,” not surprisingly, shortening it to Essex Challenger for 1930 and disappearing entirely thereafter. As noted by the coachbuilder’s tag on this example, aluminum bodies were built by Biddle & Smart of Amesbury, Massachusetts, with which Hudson had a volume production contract. A rumble seat was included, as was special gearing and an overdrive transmission, providing for an 80 mph top speed. As a specialty model starting at $965, production was limited, with just five known examples produced. Reportedly, the Speedabouts were built as show cars by Hudson to test the feasibility of volume production.

This sprightly Speedabout has benefited from a no-expense-spared body-off restoration and a complete mechanical rebuild by the Guild of Automotive Restorers, completed in 2002, for one of its executives. Painted a festive red and black with red belt line and matching black canvas top and red leather interior, this stunning roadster strikes quite a pose. It will no doubt be the star of the show wherever it appears, thanks to both its appearance and rarity.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver


+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat


+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht


+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig


+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose


+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould


+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff


+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach


+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry


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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut


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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire


+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn


+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin


+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill


+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher


+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers


+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden


+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more