Don’t feel badly if you don’t recognize the name Hupmobile, which is an orphan brand that died in 1941 after years of producing some pretty advanced and stylish automobiles. “The Father of Industrial Design” Raymond Loewy designed these unique art-deco machines, with the ’36 and ’37 being the rarest of the rare. This 1936 Hupmobile 618 G Touring Sedan is a great example of that outside-the-box thinking, combining early aerodynamics and high style in a very appealing package.
With a restoration that’s approaching 30 years old, this car is quite impressive overall. Sure, there are a few very minor signs of use and age, but it could pass for a much fresher specimen and it’s still ideal for tours and casual shows where it will surely be a topic of conversation for everyone who sees it. The flashy two-tone paint job takes advantage of the body’s lines to make for natural break points and the sleek sedan looks more like a 4-door coupe than a frumpy family car. Up front, the oval-shaped headlights are neatly blended into the fenders and the raked-back grille was one of the most streamlined of the period. The chrome is quite good as well, and there are many small details that make cars like this special: the hood ornament, the beautiful hood vents, and the taillights with “HUPP” emblazoned on their lenses. Everywhere you look, there’s something you’ve never seen before to delight the eye.
The gray cloth interior is a pretty accurate representation of what you got in 1936, with basic patterns and attractive materials. The front seat shows some minor wear but the spacious back seat area looks quite fresh and offers lots of space for passengers. Suicide doors are always a cool look and make it easy to slide into the front seat without any contortions. Simple door panels with painted garnish moldings and bright red accents are an interesting look that probably would have stood out in 1936 and the driving position is quite modern with a more vertical steering wheel than most of its competitors. The instruments are arranged in a center panel and show lovely art-deco lettering that was the height of fashion. This car carries accessories like an AM radio (not functional, which is typical of these ancient units) and aftermarket turn signals for safety. A good-sized trunk includes a full-sized spare and reasonable luggage space for tours and equipment.
The 245 cubic inch inline-six powerplant makes a burly 101 horsepower and a seamless flow of torque that makes the Hupp easy to drive and lots of fun. It’s not detailed for show, but there are signs of care throughout the years and it was treated to a ring job and valve adjustment about 3000 miles ago, so it runs great. And while the Hupmobile name might not be familiar, the parts are not terribly exotic nor difficult to find, so you can enjoy it without worrying about the next set of spark plugs. A 3-speed manual transmission feeds a set of gears that make for effortless around-town driving without a lot of shifting, and it’ll cruise at 50-55 MPH without getting winded. The restoration was obviously comprehensive, because the chassis is in good shape with only signs of use but no damage in its past. Attractive artillery-style wheels were all the rage in 1936 and these carry whitewalls that have a lot of life left in them.