Hudson Car History (Post WW2)
Article by Mark Trotta
The Hudson Motor Car Company has a rich history of innovations and beautifully styled cars. Based in Detroit, Michigan, production began in 1909, merging with Nash Motor Company in 1954, and being discontinued in 1957.
Automotive firsts for Hudson include dual brakes and coil spring independent front suspension. Other industry firsts included dashboard oil-pressure and generator warning lights, and the use of foam rubber in car seats.
Hudson During WW2
From early 1942 until late 1945, Hudson ceased all automotive production in order to manufacture military supplies and equipment. This included engines, aircraft parts and anti-aircraft guns. Many of the landing craft used in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944, were powered by the Hudson Invader engine.
Read: American Automotive Industry During World War Two
Hudson Post WW2
Hudson's first post-war models were carryovers from 1941-1942 models.
Models included the Super Six (1946-1947) and Commodore Eight (1946-1947). As their names imply, they were powered by 262ci straight-six and 254ci straight-eight cylinder engines, respectively.
Step-Down Series (1948-1954)
A redesign for 1948 featured the stylish "Step-down" design bodies. Aside from offering more interior room, the step-downs had a low center of gravity - lower than other full-size cars of the day.
Joining the 1948 lineup was the Super Eight, a less expensive version of the Commodore Eight. Powering both cars was a 254ci straight-eight motor producing 128 horsepower.
Hudson Hornet (1951-1954)
New for 1951 was the full-size Hudson Hornet, available as a two-door coupe, four-door sedan, convertible, and a pillarless hardtop coupe.
Read: American Cars of the Fifties
Powering the Hornet was a new, larger inline-six engine producing more torque and more horsepower. A GM-built four-speed Hydramatic automatic transmission became optional in Hornets and Commodore Custom models.
The "Twin H-Power" option became available in November 1951. Ramping up the power were two carburetors on dual intake manifolds producing 170 horsepower. The dealer-installed Twin H-Power option cost the buyer $85.60 additional.
Hudson Hornet In Competition
The combination of light-weight body, good handling, and the torquey inline six added up to wins on the racetrack. In 1952, Hudson won 27 of 34 NASCAR Grand National races. This was followed by 22 wins of 37 in 1953, and 17 of 37 races in 1954.
Hudson Wasp (1952-1956)
The Hudson Wasp and Super Wasp were lower-priced versions of the Hornet.
Hudson Jet (1953-1954)
Smaller than any previous model, Hudson advertised their new compact Jet as "easy to handle, park, and drive" yet still have room for six people inside.
First-year Hudson Jets were offered as a four-door model only, then as either two- or four-door versions for 1954. A premium model, the Super Jet, was also offered.
Less than 40,000 Jets were sold after two model years, and the small car was considered a financial loss. It was at this time that talks with Nash-Kelvinator (makers of Nash and Rambler) began.
Nash/Kelvinator bought out Hudson to form American Motors Corporation in 1954. The Nash side of the company would focus on compact Rambler models, while the Hudson side would focus on full-sized cars.
Hudson Metropolitan (1955-1957)
Shortly after the two companies merged, the sub-compact Metropolitan was marketed as both a Hudson and a Nash. When sold by Hudson dealers, hood and grille emblems and horn buttons identified them as such.
Although not a Hudson engine, a V8 was finally offered in 1955, a Packard 320-cubic-inch engine rated at 208 horsepower. All models ordered with the V8 were also fitted with Packard's Ultramatic automatic transmission.
Last Hudson Produced
The two-company merge did not achieve expected results, and the Hudson nameplate was discontinued in June 1957. There was no fanfare because many expected the Hudson name would continue into the 1958 model year on a Rambler chassis.
Hudson Motor Car Company built several pickup trucks.
One of America's first female automotive designers, Elizabeth Ann Thatcher, was hired by Hudson Motor Car Company in 1939.
In 1970, American Motors resurrected the Hornet name for their new compact car that replaced the Rambler American.
American Motors History
Packard History (Post WW2)
American Cars of the Fifties