Vintage Vehicle Club

of Australia (1919-1930) Inc.

Essex Motor Vehicles, were built from 1918 to 1932.


The Essex Story (Summary)


Essex was set up in 1917 as a separate firm to the Hudson Motor Company to manufacture smaller cheaper companion cars for their Hudson Super Six.
The company had a working capital of $500,000.  A new plant was acquired from Studebaker in Detroit but they did not use it, as it was required for the war effort.  The production of the new Essex was delayed for 10 months and it then commenced in a Hudson factory.  The prototype car was proposed to be started in June 1918 but again the war effort delayed this until December 1918.


  • 1919 - The first Essex WAS made in 1918 but it was called a 1919 model.
    It was a tourer bodied car of 108" wheelbase.  The four cylinder engine was an F head design with inlet valves in the head and the exhaust valves in the block. It had a bore of 3 3/8" with a 5" stroke. It produced 50 HP.

  • 1920 - 150 cars were produced each day giving a production of 21,879 for the year.  Costing from $1595 the cars proved very popular 4 cylinders 178.9 ci, 55 HP and 108.5" wheelbase.

  • 1922 - New coach (2 door sedan).  This was a very boxy shape with very little curved timber in the body construction. As a result the steel skin over the timber had very little shape but it was cheap at $1495 and this started a trend to closed car bodies.

  • 1923 - The last 4 cylinder Essex.  Chassis and Serial numbers were 516884 to 541897, 622988 to 639411 and 8451130 to 847210.  These numbers were on a brass plate near the vacuum tank.  Wheelbase was 108".

  • 1924 - Introduction of a new 6 cylinder motor 129.9ci and 50 HP, 110.5" wheelbase.  It was a L head side valve motor with 3 main bearings, bore of 2 and 4" stroke, with an unusual cast enbloc inlet manifold.  It lacked the power of the 4 cylinder motor. Chassis numbers 100000 to 144375.

  • 1925 - Production remained somewhat unchanged except for a slightly higher powered motor.  144.7 ci and 55BHP because of the stroke enlarged to 2 11/16".  Chassis numbers 144376 to 337845.

  • 1926 - Nickel plated radiator shell in July of that year.  Bodies in the closed cars had more shape and the "all steel body" made its appearance.  Numbers of the chassis went from 337848 to 442676.  Late models had the horn button on the steering wheel instead of the dash and the numbers went from 442677 to 499909.  Closed body cars imported into Australia had the "piano hinges" on the doors .

  • 1927 - The "Essex Super Six" introduced.  The high revving engine peaked at 4000 rpm.  The multi plate of earlier car was now replaced with a single wet clutch running in oil.  Restorers of today use an automatic gear box oil to replace to oil/kerosene mixture for the clutch.  Others replace the clutch with a Holden clutch out of LC/LJ Torana with some modification!!  The chrome plated radiator had horizontal slats for the last time.  Telegage liquid system was used a "petrol gauge" in a directly lit dash.  Later in 1927 the stroke was increased by " to 4 ", 21 inch tyres were used. Numbers from 610276 to 706269.

  • 1928 - 4 wheeled Bendix 3 shoe brakes was a big selling point.  It was called the "Mascot Super Six" because of the muscled bound man which acts as a mascot radiator cap.  The radiator surround had vertical slats.  Numbers went from 706270 to 9286657.  This number is stamped on the chassis on the left hand rail under the passenger's feet ( on right hand drive cars).  The steering wheel is moulded rubber and the instrument panel now has a temperature gauge. 20"'wheels.

  • 1929 - After being king of the sixes for a number of years Essex lost out to Chevrolet who offered a 6 cylinder motor for the first time, as it was cheaper and lighter in weight.  The Essex was known as the "Challenger".  A new manifold and Marvel carburettor, more compression, increase bore to 2 ", rubber mounted and a two piece sump were the only changes to the motor.  The vacuum tank has a glass bowl at the bottom.  Numbers are from 928658 to 1165673.  Four shock absorber are now standard.  The bonnet has two rows of louvres on each side and the chassis has built in bumpers bar brackets.  The instrument panel has an interesting dual electric oil and petrol gauge which change with the push of a button. 19" wheels.

  • 1930 -  "Super Challenger". 113" wheelbase, 60 BHP @ 3600 rpm motor.  Double vents on the top of the cowl.  Chassis Nos. 1165674 to 1234266.

  • 1931 - The motor was increased in size to 175.3 ci which developed 60 HP @ 3300 rpm.  No Essex cars were imported into Australia in 1931.

  • 1932 - This is where the history of Essex gets mixed up in each source you read.  The "Greater Essex Super Six" was a descendant of the 1931 model.  It had downdraft carburation.  A "ride control" system which adjusts the shock absorbers from inside the car! 5.25 x 18" wheels.  The engine size is now 193.1 ci producing 70 HP @ 3200rpm. The "Pacemaker" was introduced mid year with either a 6 cylinder with a 106" wheelbase or a 8 cylinder with 113" wheelbase.

  • 1933 - Some sources (Department of Motor Transport NSW ) state that there were Essex Terraplane Six with a 106" wheelbase with 17" x 5.25" tyres, side skirted mudguards.  Nos. 5001 and up.  Engines 26727 and up.  Terraplane Eight
    16" tyres V type radiator.  Chassis from 65001 and up Engines 15001 and up.  Other sources say that the Essex name disappeared in 1933 to be replaced by the Terraplane name only.  These MAY have been left over models from USA.

    In the period between 1918 and 1932 Essex made 1,331,107 cars.


Compiled by: Club Member




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