Restored by : Spencer Blake, Canyon, TX
Early 1950s Hudson Hornets may be best remembered for two popular themes-the company's patented "step-down" styling, introduced in '48 on all model's, and stock car racing victories.
Racing was an odd crown because Hudson kept producing its L-head straight Six at a time when the V8 was new and hot and coming on strong. Hudson, in fact, desperately wanted a V8, but with the limited budget of a relatively small independent car company, it had to just keep overbuilding the L-head. For '51, the engine had grown to a 308-cu.-in. lion, propelling the fabulous Hudson Hornet to become the king of the stocks.
Incredibly, Marshall Teague, who is synonymous with Hudson stock car racing, won 12 of 13 AAA events in 1952. Overall, Hudson won 27 of the 34 NASCAR Grand National races in 1952, followed by 22 of 37 in 1953, and 17 of 37 in 1954.
Meanwhile, the step-down design, created by dropping the floorpan, was both functional and stylish. It created a chassis with a lower center of gravity, which helped the car handle well-a bonus for racing. The design also gave the Hudson a lower and sleeker look that was accented by streamlined styling. In the 1948-to-1954 model years, the car's unique, low slung appearance and silky handling earned Hudson an image thatfor many buyerseclipsed luxury marques like Cadillac's.
Our featured Hudson is a Hornet Club Coupe with a 308-cu.-in. Six with "Twin-H" power. The Twin-H meant the cylinders were fed by a pair of single-barrel carburetors resting atop a dual-intake manifold. The horsepower boost was rated a modest 10 hp, to 170. The hood, incredibly, has a functional scoop that ducts cold air to the carburetors. It was considered "ventilation" in 1954, rather than ram air.
Oddly, Hudson's racing publicity did not serve it well in showroom sales. Hudson owners, often the country club set, were surveyed in an April 1954 issue of POPULAR MECHANICS and most said that racing wins had not influenced their purchases.
The '54 was the last all-Hudson, Hudson. The company merged with Nash-Kelvinator on May 1, 1954, and the '55 Hudson became a restyled Nash badged as a Hudson. Gone was the innovative step-down styling, although the '54 and earlier models did continue to win stock car races further into the 1950s.