Norman was part-owner and general manager of the Oakland factory in which Billy Durant was making his Chevrolets in 1920. Norm took the factory over in 1931 to make his de Vaux-Hall . The company lasted a little over a year before filing for bankruptcy. Norm was a respected car promoter, so he wasn’t out of work for long. He became the Willys, California distributor, and they went into receivership a year later.
He was again looking for a project, and it didn’t take long to find one. He bought the body dies and stamped inventory for the 810/812 Cord for $45,000.00 with the dream of building another de Vaux. He had a meeting with Joe Graham in hopes of a partnership deal. He got turned down. Hupmobile was up next, and they liked it so much that they made him General Manager. Hupmobile made 35 rear wheel drive prototypes after John Tjaarda was hired to design the changes (he was paid $50 for his design) to the now-called Hupmobile Junior. It made its debut at the Detroit Auto show and got 6,000 orders (sounds familiar… it’s not known whether they were customers who missed out on the Cord.)
Both Hupmobile and Graham were financially weak, with Graham the stronger. With no money left, Hupmobile Juniors’ production stopped at 35.
Now Graham’s 1938 sales are under 5,000, only a third of the 1937 production, and Graham is desperate. The “Shark Nose Sedan”, his latest award-winning futuristic design, is not being accepted by car buyers. The factory has time to build cars for Hupmobile for pennies over cost, as long as Graham can produce their own cars from the same dies.
Hupmobile takes delivery of 350 Graham-built Juniors, now called Skylarks, and closes their doors to selling cars.
Hupmobile gone. It’s 1940.