Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Hupmobile Nameplate

1929 Hupmobile

The car in the foreground, on the back of a $10 bill is a 1925 Hupmobile.

The Hupmobile was an automobile built from 1909 through 1940 by the Hupp Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan, which was located at 345 Bellevue Avenue. Their first car, the Model 20, was introduced to the public at the Detroit Auto Show in February 1909. The company initially produced 500 vehicles.


Robert Craig Hupp (June 2, 1877 in Grand Rapids, Michigan – 1931), a former employee of Oldsmobile and Ford founded the company with his brother Louis Gorham Hupp (November 13,1872 in Michigan – December 10, 1961 in Michigan) in 1908. Production began in 1909. In 1910, production increased by more than 5000. Following disagreements with his financial backers Hupp sold his stock in the Hupp Motor Car Company and established the short-lived RCH Automobile Company, later the Hupp-Yeats Electric Car Company.

Hupmobile Model 32 Touring 1913

Hupp Motor Company, however, continued to grow after its founder had left. A new plant was purchased in 1924 as Hupp competed strongly against Ford and Chevrolet and by 1928 sales had reached over 65,000 units. To increase production and handle the growth in sales, Hupp purchased the Chandler-Cleveland Motors Corporation (Chandler Motor Car) for its manufacturing facilities. Hupp advertising began to take cues from the romantic Ned Jordan style of automotive prose. A 1930 Hupmobile advertisement read.

Hupmobile RRS Special Roadster 1924

"A Hupmobile becomes a little more than just a car. He'll lift the hood as a veteran would, and show Hupp's mechanical fineness. He knows! He's driven Hupmobile since the old outdated out-of-context but still-revered early Hupmobiles with the tall steel spout on its radiator. There's something about Hupp's faithfulness that gets to a man. A feeling that hasn't a name. But it's the same as the feeling a seaman gets for his ship, an engineer for his engine, or a woman for her home. He's got as much use for an adjective as a cowboy for a powder puff. He's rough on claims. Promises of what a car can do. He's the old-time Hupmobile owner. He's seen cars come, seen 'em go. Only he won't talk. He'll act! Give you fact after fact, not in words but in deeds, in bullet speeds and 'Big Bertha' power."

Hupmobile Touring 1924

Sales and production began to fall even before the onset of the depression in 1930. A strategy to make the Hupmobile a larger, more expensive car began with the 1925 introduction of an 8-cylinder model, followed by the discontinuance of the traditional 4-cylinder Hupmobile. While aiming for a seemingly more lucrative market segment, Hupp essentially turned its back on its established clientele. Nevertheless, in a constant effort to remain competitive, Hupp introduced a number of new features. They were one of the very first automakers to equip their cars with "free wheeling," a device that enjoyed immense, but brief, popularity in the early 1930s. Unfortunately, the company made the same mistake that many other medium-priced carmakers were making at the same time. Namely, in an attempt to capture every possible sale, they offered many different models. With Hupmobile's relatively low production volume, the result was that no model could be produced in sufficient quantity to keep manufacturing costs low enough to provide an operating profit. Hupp abandoned its more conservatively styled product line and turned to industrial designer Raymond Loewy to design its 1932 Hupp cyclefender, a flashy roadster which did well at the track, but sales continued to decline. 1934 saw the introduction of a striking restyle called the "Aerodynamic" by Loewy, as well as the lower-priced series 417-W using Murray-built slightly-modified Ford bodies.

Hupmobile Series M De Luxe Century Opera Coupe 1929

Despite these innovations, squabbles among stockholders and an attempted hostile takeover in 1935 took their toll on the company. By 1936 the company was forced to sell some of its plants and assets and in 1937 Hupmobile suspended manufacturing. A new line of six- and eight-cylinder cars was fielded for 1938, but by this time Hupp had very few dealers, and sales were disappointingly low.

Hupmobile Series M De Luxe Century 4-Door Sedan 1929

Desperate for a return to market strength, Hupmobile acquired the production dies of the Gordon Buehrig designed Cord 810/812 from the defunct Cord Automobile Company in 1938. Hupmobile hoped that utilizing the striking Cord design in a lower-priced conventional car, called the Skylark, would return the company to financial health. Enthusiastic orders came in by the thousands, but production delays soured customer support.

Hupmobile 4-Door Sedan 1932

Lacking adequate production facilities, Hupmobile worked out a deal with the ailing Graham-Paige Motor Co. to share the Cord dies, which would be built at Graham's facilities. The Graham edition, called the Hollywood, differed from the Skylark in only a few minor details.

Hupmobile Series 417-W 4-Door Sedan 1934

Final production

In 1939 the Hupmobile Skylark finally began delivery. Unfortunately, it had taken too many years to produce and most of the orders had been canceled. Production lasted only a couple of months, and only 319 Skylarks were produced. Hupmobile ceased production in late summer. Graham-Paige suspended production shortly after the last Hupmobile rolled off the line. The Skylark's grille later inspired the grilles used on Lincoln Continental models in the 1940's.

The last preserved Hupmobile dealership in the United States is located in Omaha, Nebraska.

Reference in Hollywood movies

In the Billy Wilder's movie Some Like It Hot Hupmobile is mentioned several times. When Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon witness a gangland slaying like the St. Valentine's Day Massacre it is in a garage to get a Hupmobile borrowed from one of Curtis's girlfriends. Later, when telling a fictional story to Marilyn Monroe while pretending to be a sexually frustrated millionaire, Curtis says his problems began when his fiance, the daughter of the President of Hupmobile, got killed in an accident at the Grand Canyon.

In the TV series Leave It To Beaver, Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) would on occasion wistfully recall his family's Hupmobile.

Hupmobile production models

For specifications on various Hupmobile models:

Hupmobile Club Sedan - R

Hupmobile Touring - E

External links:

Hupmobile Building

Hupmobile Welcomed at UniversalCity

Hupmobile at UniversalCity

Motorbase "Hupmobile"


The Hupmobile Club