Monday Musings

28 days in a row and counting…

This is the 23rd post with the title Monday Musings. Just to change the pace I was thinking of titling the post Monday Mueslix or Monday Molasses. Strange, you say? Well, if the shoe fits…

See the source image

The top picture is from, the bottom from the manufacturer, Golden Barrel.


On this day in 1954 (yes, before even I was born) the last “real” Hudson automobile was manufactured. In May of that year Hudson and Nash merged to form American Motors Corporation, but auto production can’t just change right away.

Hudson was founded in 1909 by Howard Coffin (I think I would have changed my last name), George Dunham and Roy Chapin. Chapin’s son, also named Roy, would eventually be named CEO of American Motors. The name Hudson came from department store magnate Joseph Hudson who funded the venture.

Early in its history Hudson was an innovative and successful company. The company built mainly closed cars from the beginning, which were different from the open buggy-type design of most American cars. They built the first engine with a balanced crankshaft (in 1916), which made the engine run much more smoothly than most engines of competitors.

As was the case for many companies, the Great Depression really hurt Hudson. In 1928 Hudson sales (including its companion Essex make) totaled 282,000. By 1933 sales had plummeted to 41,000.

Hudson gained some traction (no pun intended) after World War II when it introduced its Step-Down design. Here is an example:

From a picture of a 1948 Hudson Super (and, apparently, its owner). From this article on comes this description of the Step-Down design:

“Hudson introduced its all-new Step-Down series, beating Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler to the punch with an all-new postwar automobile. Radical for its time and incorporating a number of advanced features, the Step-Down Hudson has made a lasting impression to this day…Not an originator of unit body/frame construction, more of an early adopter, Hudson called its design Monobilt. Under chief engineer Millard H. Toncray, the company’s design philosophy was based on a property he called ‘roadability,’ which emphasized ride, road holding, and passenger comfort on the less than optimal two-lane roads of the day—there were no Interstates then. As a result, the Monobilt structure was massively over-engineered and overbuilt for maximum stiffness and silence. In another radical departure, the frame rails passed outboard of the rear wheels…”

These cars had a lower center of gravity than other cars of the era and had exceptional ride quality. Believe it or not, Step-Down Hudsons dominated NASCAR racing in the early 1950s.

However, Hudson’s refusal/inability to produce a V-8 engine hurt the company during the burgeoning horsepower wars of the 1950s. Hudson sold 159,000 cars—about three percent of the US market—in 1949, but by 1953 that number had dropped to 66,000 and only one percent.

The Hudson name didn’t survive the merger for very long. (Neither did the Nash name.) Hudson and Nash shared a platform, which took away from the individuality of both cars, but especially Hudson. Although the decision was made very late in the process (drawings for new Hudson and Nash bodies that would have been placed on the Rambler chassis were made in August of 1957), Hudson and Nash were discontinued after the 1957 model year.

Unfortunately for Hudson and all car enthusiasts, this car from 1954 was only made in very limited production of about 25 vehicles:

(Picture obviously from The Hudson Italia was basically a Hudson Jet with a fancy Italian body, but it’s a handsome and distinctive car.

Please don’t forget companies like Hudson, Nash, American Motors and the like.






6 thoughts on “Monday Musings

  1. I will take the molassas as it goes in my barbecue sauce. The weeds in the box at the top you can keep or throw away, preferably throw away. J. L. Hudson of the Hudson department store of my first home town, Detroit. My mother used to shop there prior to 1951.
    The Hudson. I cannot forget the Hudson. My Dad, had one as a second car in Willcox,, Arizona about 1959. My uncle Ron, drove from Utah to our house in Bowie, Arizona in February 1956 in a Hudson. I have pictures I took as a nine year old to prove it. The fame of the Hudson Hornet in NASCAR is chronicled even today in the Disney movie, “Cars”. There are so many other car manufacturers that should not be forgotten.


  2. The money Hudson spent developing the ill-conceived and ill-executed Jet weakened the company and kept it from replacing its ground breaking but aging Step-Down design and kept it from developing a V-8. Chief designer Frank Spring wanted to do the Jet very differently from the way it was actually built. A Hudson dealer in Chicago who was selling some 3,000 – yes, 3,000 – Hudsons a year had too much say in the design of the Jet. He wanted something that looked like the ’52 Ford. It didn’t work on the Jet’s dimensions and the car tanked in the marketplace and tanked Hudson with it. Hudson likely could have make it a while longer had the four way merger between Nash-Hudson-Packard and Studebaker taken place the way Nash’s George Mason envisioned. But the chain cigar-smoking Mason died of pneumonia just as the Nash-Hudson and Packard-Studebaker halves of the proposed merger was happening. Mason’s successor was George Romney who was determined to kill off the large Nash and Hudson and go instead with his vision of the Rambler. Romney and Packard’s James Nance didn’t get on well and the second part of the merger never happened.

    Steve McQueen’s Hudson is here:


Comments are closed.