Why We Lost Hudson

The Sad Tale of How Hubris Can Create a Disaster

When we talk about the mystery cars of the first muscle era, the early 50s had some hefty sleepers. One such brand was the Hudson and its famous Hornet. In 1948, Hudson employed some great new features when, like most of its competition, it broke away from the reissue of pre-World War II models. In 1948 they suddenly offered sleek styling, unit body construction, “step-down” lowered chassis, and starting in 1951, the famous Hornet 308 CID I-6 powerhouse. This Hornet/308 combo dominated NASCAR though 1953.

Hudsons were a mid-price to luxury brand, whose competition among the big three was Pontiac and Oldsmobile at GM, Mercury at Ford, and Dodge and DeSoto at Chrysler. The styling that was introduced in 1948 was ahead of Ford, way ahead of Chrysler, and just behind GM. There was no expectations in the Company that Hudson would deliver the volume of those brands, but the Company expected to sit comfortably with about 100,000 annual sales — more than adequate to stay profitable.

But by 1955 they were nothing more than low-volume badge-engineered American Motors Ramblers. What happened?


In Professional Racing

Hudson was actively engaged in stock car racing with its powerful I-6 engine. In fact, Hudson may be the only brand at that time that had an engineering section devoted to modifications and actual builds of the racing version called the “7X”.

But another vital characteristic is its ruggedness, a factor that has been conclusively demonstrated in dirt track competition. The road crew discovered this, too, for few cars emerge from the violent maneuvers the test drivers use in top condition. When the Hornet was returned to the factory, it still was in perfect tune.” the Motor Life magazine testers.

The 7X engine was sold as a crate engine only. Learn About this race engine HERE.

The Last Great Hudson Brochure

At right is the last true brochure for the Hudson. Thereafter, Hudsons would be American Motors Ramblers slightly re-skinned and called Hudsons.

In the following years, the famous and powerful L-Head in-line six cylinder engine would be available in the Rambler chassis, but little else remained of the car’s heritage.

Rambler or Hudson, the name was fading from the public’s interest. In 1955 only 10,671 true Hudsons were sold.  In 1956, the number dropped to 8,152. The handwriting was on the wall.

Check out the last great Hudson Brochures here!

Other Hudson Brochures can be found in our Library.

Hudson Documented the Complete Specifications of their Models.

ll manufacturers that were part of the Automobile Manufacturers Association submitted these specifications each year. The Association placed these submissions in research files that were retrievable in paper. We have captured those that are currently available in our library (And we’re on the lookout for more!)


You can see these accurate technical descriptions HERE:

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