MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of the Robert Tate Collection
Published 10.14.2020

A June 1927 Hupmobile Eight ad RESIZEDA June 1927 Hupmobile Eight ad 

The Hupp Motor Car Company manufactured automobiles from 1909 to 1941 in Detroit, Michigan during the early days of the industry. Robert Craig Hupp, who established the company, first worked for auto pioneers like R.E. Olds and Henry Ford before creating his own “Hupmobile.”

An October 1926 Hupmobile print advertisementAn October 1926 Hupmobile print advertisement

The first Hupmobile was introduced in February of 1909 at the Detroit Automobile Show. Known as a Hupp 20, the model was put into production soon after the Auto Show and became a huge success across the country.

During the early days of automotive manufacturing, companies relied on creative thinking when it came to selling cars. During the 1920s and 1930s, car companies were producing colorful and great looking advertising to bring customers into showrooms, including the Hupp Motor Car Company of Detroit.

A 1920s Hupmobile advertisementA 1920s Hupmobile advertisement

Hupmobile advertising featured women dressed in the fashions of the era in colorful ways to sell their product. During the late 1920s, the company highlighted the Hupmobile 8 models, noting “In the fine field, the trend is undoubtedly toward eights.” The straight-eight engine at the time was an immensely powerful and smooth machine that most drivers thoroughly enjoyed. Many automotive historians have said that the straight eight engine was the domain of the luxury car makers.

A 1927 Hupmobile adA 1927 Hupmobile ad

Other great Hupmobile advertising themes introduced during the 1920s and 30s included “The car that won a popular landside“ and “We believe the Hupmobile to be the best car of its class in the world.”

A 1928 model year Hupmobile ad from November 1927 RESIZEDA 1928 model year Hupmobile ad from November 1927

Hupp was among the most adversely affected automakers when the Great Depression hit. From 1929 to 1932, sales of new automobiles fell by 75 percent, and automobile companies had a combined loss of $191 million in 1932. The last Hupmobile automobile advertisement that I have in my collection is for the 1940 Hupp Skylark that was advertised with a sticker price of $895.

Hupmpbile Eight advertisementHupmobile Eight advertisement

In conclusion, Samuel L. Davis became Hupp’s new president in August of 1938, the latest leader to try to move the company forward during the difficult economic times. For 1939, Hupmobile planned to begin manufacturing the newly designed Skylark models, but only 319 of these models were ever made. During the summer of 1940, Hupmobile discontinued production. Graham-Paige, who had a business deal with Hupmobile, suspended production on the last Hupmobile model that rolled of the assembly line.

A Hupmobile Eight adA Hupmobile Eight ad

Today, Hupmobiles are somewhat obscure models among the cars made in Detroit, but they had a great reputation as well-engineered cars. The company also created famous advertising that is still a part of our automotive heritage and culture.  

Bibliography

Moloney, James. “Encyclopedia of American Cars 1930-1942.” Crestline Publishing.

Shea, Terry. “Hodgepodge Hup-1928 Hupmobile Eight.” Hemmings Classic Car, January 2018.

Kimes, Beverly Rae & Clark Jr., Henry Austin. “Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942.” Krause Publications.