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October 29, 1954 – The last true Hudson leaves the factory

1954 Hudson
1954 Hudson Jet

The last true Hudson left the assembly line on this day in 1954 following the May 1, 1954 merger with Nash to form American Motors. The name Hudson would live on for three more production years as rebadged Nashes, the last of those leaving the factory on June 25, 1957.

The first Hudson car factory. Mack and Beaufait Avenues, Detroit, 1909,

The founding of Hudson occurred on February 20, 1909 by eight Detroit businessmen. They received financing for the company from Joseph L. Hudson, a department store entrepreneur, which led to the name. Hudson set a record for most cars sold in an automaker’s first full year of production at 4,508, putting it in 17th place in the industry for sales at the time. A high placement considering the huge number of automakers in business during the era. The rapid sales led to the need for a larger factory, which opened on this same date, October 29, in 1910.

1929 Hudson Roadster. By Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0

Up until 1948, Hudson automobiles had all been built with body on frame construction. When Hudson introduced their “step-down” body they marketed it as safer, more comfortable and easier to control. This new design was the precursor to modern unibody constructed automobiles.

1949 Hudson Commodore. By Lglswe – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Also, it’s my mom’s birthday. Happy birthday, Mom! I’ll see you tonight!

The Family Racer – 1953 Hudson Hornet

In October of 1951 Hudson introduced an all new car that would become an instant hit on the young NASCAR circuit. The Hudson Hornet, powered by a beastly inline six, would dominate the track and many credit its success with the birth of the saying, “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” Well, it may be Friday when this post goes up, but this 1953 Hudson Hornet for sale is still selling. This four-door model presents well in its original form, but is ready for restoration (and then racing!). Although it’s not currently running, what’s impressive about this family race car is its price. This Craigslist classic car is currently listed for just $4,500 just northwest of Milwaukee. Find the link below. Is it worth it? Yeah. Oh, yeah.

1953 Hudson Hornet Exterior

First impression: stance! Thanks to its highly engineered step down chassis design, it is able to sit lower to the ground without sacrificing driveability or comfort. As we work our way around this barn find Hudson Hornet, it’s easy to point out flaw after flaw. But in the eyes of many, especially in today’s coveted all originals market, we just call that patina. It’s the type of look you only get once from a car. The appearance of this one is prime for preservation. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its fair share of rust, but it appears relatively straight otherwise. If you can put a stop to the cancer and call in the clear-coaters, you could have an excellent cruiser on your hands. You know, once you go through the driveline.

This Hudson is rolling on brand new tires, a major plus for a project car at this price point. There are several accessories included that aren’t currently on the vehicle. Adding the Hudson sun visor and fog lights are going to add to the beastly presence of this car. It also comes with a pair of fender skirts, but to be honest, I am not sure how they work. The rear tires seem to sit tucked under the rear fender already, so perhaps I am missing something. Can someone fill me in on this in the comments?

Interior Analysis

Talk about options! This Hudson Hornet project left the dealer quite well equipped, but these days it’s looking pretty tired. The Hudson upholstery is certainly going to need to be addressed, from the ripped seats to the worn door cards and carpets, but it appears relatively complete otherwise. It still contains a push button radio, split-back bench seat and weather control heater system. Don’t miss the blinds on the rear window. The dashboard is also adorned by a clock, which seems to be easily confused for the speedometer that has a similar appearance.

If originality is the name of the game, this is a great starting place for restoration or preservation. While I’m a cheerleader for keeping things facotry when possible, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone turn this into a led sled or other hot rod of sorts. It does need a lot of work, but only time will tell what happens to this 1950s classic.

Hudson Hornet engine

What’s under the hood is why we’re all here, isn’t it? Hudson made a splash on the NASCAR track with the introduction of the Hornet in 1951 thanks to its powerful inline six. The engine remained 308 cubic inches through 1954, with the base model making 145 horsepower. However, this car is claimed to be equipped with the 210 horsepower 7X Hudson racing engine that features Twin H-Power carburetors and barrel-style air filters. The 7X Hudson Hornet engine was developed by NASCAR great Marshall Teague and Hudson engineer Vince Piggins, all to ensure first place finishes.

This engine has a larger bore and valves, a high compression head, a performance cam and dual exhausts. In this car, a 3-speed manual transmission with overdrive puts power to the wheels. The engineering did its job, pushing Hudson to 27 NASCAR Grand National wins in 1952, 22 wins in 1953 and 17 checkered flags out of 37 races in 1954. This Hudson Hornet for sale will be ready to win after a bit of work. What you win, car show trophies or races, is up to you.

Hudson Hornet for sale

If you’re in the market for a Hudson Hornet project car, this is definitely one to take a closer look at. At $4,500, it’s hard to go wrong. No doubt you’ve got quite a bit of work ahead of you. And if you’re thinking, “But it has four doors!” don’t forget about your friends. Everyone is going to want to be rolling with you in the awesome cheap classic car for sale on Craigslist. Whether you choose to build a NASCAR replica, Doc Hudson replica, a Hudson hot rod or do a full restoration, this car deserves to be back on the road. Can you give this Hudson Hornet for sale the help it needs?

October 16, 1950 – The Hudson Hornet debuts

1951 Hudson Hornet convertible. By Herranderssvensson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The old adage “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” is linked to the early days of NASCAR when American automakers found success on the racetrack equated to sales on the showroom. Among the first large car companies to build a car almost specifically to dominate NASCAR was Hudson. It’s entry to the field was the 1951 Hudson Hornet, which debuted on this day in 1950. The cars soon dominated the league, all starting with a win in its first entry, the 1951 season opener at Daytona. Marshall Teague drove his Fabulous Hudson Hornet to victory over 54 other cars. The Hornet soon began capturing checkered flags and championships over and over again.

Several engineering feats helped the Hornet conquer the track. Among them, Hudson’s step down chassis design that allowed for a lower center of gravity that improved handling. Every car in the production run for the 1951 through 1954 model year received a high compression, 5 liter inline six dubbed the H-145. The 305 cubic inch engine produced 145 horsepower, but in the hands of Teague and other NASCAR elite, they could tune the engine for more. Teague himself claimed he could hop up the car, pushing its top speed to 112 miles per hour.

The first win for a Hudson Hornet came with Marshall Teague at the wheel on the Daytona Beach & Road Course in 1951. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/ CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

Hudson Hornet History

The Hornet’s success on the track resulted in more than 44,000 sales in 1951. The good times kept on rolling. Hudson went on to win 27 of the 34 NASCAR Grand National races in 1952. The next year it captured 22 wins of 37 races. In 1954 it dominated again, taking home 17 checkered flags out of 37 races. Unfortunately, the success would not be enough to save Hudson. A merger with Nash in 1954, the final year of the Hornet, created American Motors Corporation and Hudson production in Detroit ended. The name would carry on through 1957 before disappearing completely.

Hudson in NASCAR

Before being put out to pasture, the Fabulous Hudson Hornets made history in many ways. Beyond Teague winning the season opener in 1951, Herb Thomas would win the championship in a Hornet that year too. He’d win again in a Hornet in 1953, making him the first repeat champ in NASCAR. While the car didn’t seem to monkey around, driver Tim Flock sure did. He won the 1952 championship in Hudson Hornet with a part time co-pilot named Jacko Flocko – a Rhesus monkey.

The #92 Hudson Hornet driven by Herb Thomas. By Freewheeling Daredevil – Flickr, CC BY 2.0

While Hudson the automaker ultimately failed, it lives on today in the form of a beloved animated character, Doc Hudson of the “Cars” film franchise. Doc Hudson was originally voiced by Paul Newman and was based on the career of Herb Thomas. It remains a lasting legacy to the automotive history of Hudson and the early days of NASCAR.

A 1951 Hudson Hornet designed to look like Doc Hudson of the Cars films. By Greg Gjerdingen from Willmar, USA. CC BY 2.0

January 14, 1954 – Nash & Hudson merge to form AMC

In what was the largest corporate merger US history at the time, Nash-Kelvinator Corporation agreed to merge with Hudson Motor Car Company to form American Motors Corporation (AMC) on this day in 1954. The deal was led by Nash-Kelvinator CEO George Mason who hoped to build a strong competitor of the Big Three: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

Above: This 1960 Rambler American Wagon offered space and great fuel economy. By Greg Gjerdingen. Top: The Metropolitan, first built by Nash for 1954, remained a key part of the AMC lineup through 1961 as they continued to push smaller cars. Pictured is a 1956 Hudson.

Within a year, Mason died of health complications. His assistant, George Romney, took over the role of CEO. Under Romney’s direction, Nash focused on its Rambler line of small cars, while Hudson continued building full-sized vehicles. As a recession took hold in the late 1950s, each of these brands produced their last cars. To combat rising import sales of the era, small, fuel efficient cars would lead the company’s product line. To do so, AMC launched Rambler and Metropolitan as their own marques, each offering compact, yet versatile vehicles.

1971 AMC Javelin AMX by Greg Gjerdingen. Cc2.0

By 1960, AMC became the third most popular brand of automobiles in the US, largely due to the Rambler. The next year the Metropolitan line ended production. By 1965 the Rambler name would also be phased out and AMC would take over as the marque for all models.

AMC found success in the 1960s and 1970s with the Javelin, AMX, Gremlin and Pacer. In 1970 AMC acquired the Jeep brand, which later proved to be its most valuable asset. Renault acquired a large portion of AMC in 1979, but this stock, along will all other remaining shares, came under Chrysler ownership on March 9, 1987. Chrysler revealed it ultimately did the deal only to acquire Jeep. With that, AMC production soon ground to a halt. The last AMC, an Eagle Wagon, left the line on December 14, 1987.

All About that Glass! $19.99

July 22, 1934 – Car loving crook John Dillinger shot dead in Chicago

Public enemy number 1, John Dillinger, was shot and killed outside the Biograph Theather on this day in 1934. After an eight year stint behind bars, Dillinger spent the his last year on earth robbing banks, holding up restaurants and stealing fast cars. Dillinger often spoke of his love for fine automobiles, and when he wasn’t stealing them, he had no problem laying down the cash for a top notch set of wheels. Dillinger, often given some sort of false Robin Hood label, was a star in the eye of the public despite his murderous crime spree. With so many infatuated with the fugitive, car companies were quick to capitalize on news of Dillinger’s preference in certain automobiles.

Above: The 1933 Essex Terraplane 8 purchased by John Dillinger in 1934 on display at the ACD museum. Photo courtesy Hemmings.
Top: A 1933 Essex Terraplane used in a getaway with an authority figure pointing out a shotgun blast that had been aimed at Dillinger.

In one instance, after it was reported that Dillinger escaped the scene of a crime in a Hudson, a local salesman of the brand drew up the perfect pitch. He hung a banner reading “Dillinger Chooses the 1934 Hudson For His Personal Use” from his dealership. Sales surely soared.

A different report stated Dillinger had a love for the new Ford V8s, quite similar to that of fellow outlaw Clyde Barrow. Ford’s media men took advantage of the news and the public’s love of the handsome fugitive by printing brochures that read, “Will they catch John Dillinger? Not until they get him out of a Ford V8!”

Government men stand by a Ford that had been abandoned by John Dillinger during a gun battle at the Little Bohemia Resort on April 22, 1934 in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin.

One of Dillinger’s favorite getaway vehicles was the Essex Terraplane 8, which is often cited as an early American muscle car. Though he stole several for bank jobs and other heists, he enjoyed the Essex so much that he actually purchased a 1933 model about four months before he was killed. The Hudson straight 8 powered Essex wasn’t able to escape its ownership by Dillinger unscathed. A shootout with authorities in late March 1934 left the poor car with two bullet wounds through its hood. The car was wrecked by Dillinger’s brother, Hubert, about two month later, putting it out of use for the time being.

Dillinger’s Essex is now on display at Alcatraz East in Tennessee, formerly the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. Next to the Essex is Ted Bundy’s VW Beetle. By EricaLewHouse – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

That Essex was brought back to life, and today it still shows off its scars from the shootout. The car had been a part of a permanent exhibit at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C. It has since made appearances at museums around the country, including the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg in Auburn, Indiana, Dillinger’s home state. Interestingly enough, Dillinger once held up a police station in Auburn, yes a police station, after escaping from a nearby prison in order to raid their gun cabinet.

April 25, 1959 – Mario Andretti makes US racing debut

Mario Andretti, made his US racing debut on this day in 1959, just four years after emigrating to the USA. The superstar driver started his racing career in Italy several years prior. It all began in 1953, at age 13, when he joined Italy’s Formula Junior racing league. Mario and his twin brother Aldo were born in Rina, in Montona, Istria, formerly the Kingdom of Italy, now Croatia. After the move to the US, Mario and Aldo took jobs at their uncle’s auto garage in Pennsylvania. There they earned money to purchase and modify a 1948 Hudson Commodore.

Above: Andretti in the winners circle of the 1978 Dutch Grand Prix. By Suyk, Koen CC BY-SA
Top: The Andretti twins’ 1948 Hudson

On this day in 1959 the brothers entered the car into a dirt track race near Nazareth, Pennsylvania, making their US racing debut. Mario won the race! Between him and Aldo, they’d capture four wins in their first four starts. The early success behind the wheel allowed Mario to quickly work his way up the racing ladder. 

Andretti in a Lotus in 1977. By Luca Varani – From SIM Driving Forum., CC BY-SA 2.5

Mario Andretti wins everything

He went on to become one of only two drivers to have won races in Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR and World Sportscar Championship, the other being Dan Gurney. He is also the only driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500 (1969), Daytona 500 (1967) and the Formula One World Championship (1978). Another incredible feat is being the only driver to win United States Driver of the Year in three different decades (1967, 1978 and 1984). With his final IndyCar win in 1993, he became the only driver to have won an Indy race in four decades and a race in any kind of automobile race in five different decades.

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Dusty & Rusty – Herd of Metropolitans for sale – $500 to $3,000 each

The Metropolitan is an interesting little car, and with a wheel base shorter than a VW, little it is. Though badged as an American Nash, Hudson, and even as its own sub-brand of AMC, the Metropolitan has a strong English accent. After initial design work and protyping was completed in Kenosha, WI, Nash executives realized it’d be too expensive to build from scratch. They contracted with England’s Austin to build the car, using European underpinnings that’d help bring the cost down further. For the first time, a North American designed car, meant for the North American market, had assembly completed outside of the US. The goal to save money worked, and the vehicle destined to be American’s “second car” began rolling out of English factories in October 1953.

It seems this seller had a soft spot for these commuter cars, which got up to 40 miles per gallon. When new, the cars earned praise for the ride comfort and handling, unfortunately this fleet haven’t handled the elements too well. This Craigslist ad for five Metropolitans for sale near Bellingham, WA, covers the full spectrum of models. They were available as a Nash or Hudson coupe or convertible until 1958, when they became their own brand, known as Metropolitan by American Motors. Available are a 1955 Hudson Metropolitan, 1956 Nash Metropolitan, 1957 Nash Metropolitan, a 1961 Metropolitan convertible and a 1962 Metropolitan coupe. Prices range from $500 to $3000 per car.

After taking your pick of the litter, you can also negotiate for extra engines, glass, fenders, doors and other parts from the seller. It seems there is more than enough here to pump out a few running and driving examples, if you’ve got the time. So, what say you, fellow car nuts, are any of these mid-century compacts worth saving?

February 20, 1909 – Hudson is founded

When eight businessmen from Detroit approached department store founder Joseph L. Hudson requesting an investment for a new automobile company he was likely a bit confused. He dealt in suits, not cars, after all. Regardless, their pitch sold him on the idea. He put up the necessary capital to get the proposed operation up and running. For his contribution, the new venture received his name, leading to the Hudson Motor Car Company being founded on this day in 1909. 

This and cover: 1909 Hudson Model 20 (red) next to a 1909 Hupmobile (blue). By Brian Corey

The company made its first home in the old Aerocar factory on the intersection of Mack Avenue and Beaufait Street in Detroit, Michigan, and quickly went to work with their first car rolling off the production line on July 3, 1909. In 1910 a total of 4,508 Hudson Twenty automobiles left the assembly line, a record amount for the first full year of production of any automaker at the time. 

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The company moved to a new 223,500 square foot facility in October 1910. The larger space led them to increase production to 6,486 for 1911. Hudson would go on to merge with Nash-Kelvinator in 1954. The Hudson name saw its last use on an automobile in 1957.

February 11, 1959 – NASCAR great Marshall Teague killed in speed record attempt

Marshall Teague with Hudson Hornet

Marshall Teague walked unannounced into the Detroit offices of Hudson Motor Car Company and left with a sponsor for his NASCAR racing career, securing his place in history after selling himself as the best driver on four wheels. He’d make a great case for that claim during the 1951 and 1952 seasons as a driver of the “Fabulous Hudson Hornet” stock cars. Teague won seven of his 23 NASCAR entries before dropping out of the league in 1953 following disputes with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. 

Always craving a checkered flag, the Teague, AKA, the King of the Beach joined other racing circuits, including Formula One. It was that unhealthy addiction to going fast that pushed him to try and top 177 mph on this day in 1959. His goal? To break the closed course speed record at Daytona International Speedway. His weapon of choice for the mission? A reconfigured Indy car known as a Sumar Special Streamliner. At about 140 mph Teague spun out, causing the car to roll and eject him. Just like that the life of one of the mid-century auto racing greats ended in horrific fashion. 

Teague is in the cockpit of the Sumar Special Streamliner just prior to the accident that took his life. Larry Wheat/Root Archives

His feats would later be recognized after being posthumously inducted into several hall of fames. This included the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame. Perhaps his greatest claim to afterlife fame is as the inspiration for Doc Hudson in the “Cars” film franchise.

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