Introduced in 1919 as a more affordable companion to the Hudson brand, the initial Essex model boasted a powerful four-cylinder engine with an impressive 180 cubic inches (2.9 liters) displacement, delivering a remarkable 55 horsepower, setting a new standard in its class. Essex quickly gained a reputation for both high performance and reliability when, in December 1919, one of its cars achieved an average speed of over 60 mph for an impressive 50 consecutive hours. Following this feat, the company embarked on a successful transcontinental journey in 1920, with four Essex vehicles traveling from San Francisco to New York City. The fastest of these completed the journey in just 4 days, 14 hours, and 43 minutes.
Essex also played a pioneering role in introducing affordable closed coachwork to the United States. In 1922, their two-seater sedan, which was the most budget-friendly closed car in the country, was only slightly more expensive than the tourer version, and by 1925, it became marginally cheaper. This affordability factor resonated with the American public, making Essex a highly popular choice.
A significant development for Essex in 1924 was the transition from four-cylinder to six-cylinder engines. From that point onwards, all Essex models would feature six-cylinder powerplants.