Hudson cars were one of the early US auto building success stories. Hudson’s history of big, powerful models made the company competitive with its giant Detroit neighbors like Ford and Chrysler.
It survived the Depression, and bounced back from war production in 1948 quicker than almost everybody else — and with a brilliant Big Idea for its first totally new postwar model, the Commodore. It was called ‘step-down’ design: passengers ‘stepped down’ to a floor pan recessed into the car’s unitary frame. The lower centre of gravity improved handling, and made for a more comfortable and spacious ride that still made the most of the Commodore’s powerful ea.
The Hudson Hornet introduced in 1951 was really an upgraded Commodore, but it looked and felt like its own boss. Low-slung, with enclosed rear wheels, it looked sleek and muscular rearing up from the inverted ‘V’ chrome grin of its front grille, over the bulbous hood to the split windscreen and tapering off towards the rear. This was Hudson’s advertised new ‘Skyliner Styling’ and it came with a ‘Custom-Luxury’’interior spacious enough for six people. What made the car truly outstanding was the huge new ‘H-145’ engine, in which the 4.3 litre inline six of the Commodore was increased to 5.0 litres. Its performance alerted Hudson to the Hornet’s racing potential, and suitably tweaked versions won 79 races between 1951-54, including NASCAR championships in ’51,’52 and ’53, and AAA championships in ’52, ’53 (12 out of the 13 races) and ’54.
The Hornet was Hudson’s finest hour. It handled like a dream despite its size. It looked terrific. It even fulfilled its advertising claims of having ‘a definite look of the future’ and, thanks to its ‘engine sensation’, ‘blazing getaway-ativity’. If only.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1951 (until 1954)
5.0 l (308 cid) ‘H-145’ Straight Six
Top speed of 99 mph (160 km/h);0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 14.5 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The NASCAR and AAA Hudson racing team drivers were the legendary stock car aces Marshall Teague, Herb Thomas and Tim Flock. Their cars were emblazoned with ‘Fabulous Hudson Hornet, and one of them can be seen, fully restored, at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum in Michigan.