Wednesday, November 23, 2011
We step down for some Hudson history, and check out the Big Country Hudson Meet photos from Kansas City
Hudson, the real, non-animated car company, actually did win the NASCAR manufacturer’s championship in 1952, 1953, and 1954, and they certainly would have won it in 1951, but the award hadn’t been created yet. Between 1952 and 1954, Hudson won 66 of the 108 NASCAR races held. That’s an amazing record, especially when you consider how stout the new Oldsmobile “Rocket” V8’s and venerable Ford flathead V8’s were at the time.
What was state-of-the-art was the car itself. In 1948, Hudson adopted a new design known as “step-down” styling. Basically, they were just doing something that the hot rodders already knew about, when they channeled the body down around the frame, setting the floor between the frame rails. This meant the center of gravity was much lower, the car itself sat lower, and weight was greatly reduced. It was a good race car because it handled better than pretty much anything else on the track; the same reason a Corvette handles better than an Econoline today.
Hudson was actually started back in 1909 by department store magnate Joseph Hudson. Like the Ford Model T, the Hudson Twenty was an inexpensive car meant to appeal to the masses. No, it didn’t sell in massive quantities like the Model T, but the innovative Hudsons still sold thousands of units at a time when other car companies would sprout up and die like dandelions on an almost daily basis.
But by 1932, the name “Essex” was apparently considered old fashioned, so the economy brand name was changed to Essex-Terraplane in ’32, just Terraplane in 1934, then back to Hudson 112 in 1938.
To open this story, we outlined Hudson’s NASCAR success in the early ‘50s, but dominance at the track wasn’t enough to keep Hudson healthy. By 1954, Hudson styling had barely changed in six years, and their budget didn’t allow for significant updates.
The 1955 Hudson was basically a big Nash with some Hudson styling touches and a big Hudson grill. They also sold some little Metropolitans and Ramblers as Hudsons, further muddying the waters. Hudson also got a Packard-designed V8 as an option in 1955, encroaching on the Twin-H-Power inline sixes turf. The Twin-H-Power dual carb setup was discontinued in 1956.
But it was too little, too late. The Hudson brand simply did not resonate with the buying public anymore. Hudson (and Nash for that matter) was abruptly discontinued before the 1958 model year. The more popular Rambler name took over everything. And just like that, 48 years of Hudson history came to an end.
The slideshow accompanying this story is from the Mo-Kan Hudson Club Big Country Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Regional Meet, which was held at the Doubletree Hotel in Overland Park in June of 2010. I wrote a little about this event on the Examiner, but with their small picture size and 20-picture limit, I never got to really show these off until now.