Hudson Hornet

1951 hudson hornet

1951 Hudson Hornet

The Hudson Hornet built for the 1951 through 1953 model years are thought by many  to be the most memorable Hudson’s of the post World War Two years. The Hornet models were built by the Hudson Motor Car Company in Detroit Michigan. Hudson was a big name in the automotive industry with it’s heritage dating all the way back to 1910. In fact, the “Hudson” name wasn’t the name of the inventor but was the name of one of his financial backers, Joseph Hudson of Detroit. Joseph Hudson was the founder of the once hugely successful Hudson’s Department Store in Detroit.

The Hudson Motor Car Company was one of the more successful early car makers whose automobiles were targeted to the upper middle class car buyer. Hudson stayed in business during the Great Depression of the 1930′s and enjoyed a good amount of success up to World War Two and the forced hiatus for civilian car production. After the war and when automobile production resumed, Hudson, like most of the other automakers came out with new designs. New sleeker designs were unveiled post 1945 in what was one of the biggest buyer markets in automobile history.

hudson hornet

Hudson Hornet front end, grille and hood ornament

Surprisingly to many, the Hudson Hornet was an accomplished race car and that occurred even with it’s six cylinder engine. The Hudson Hornet was almost unbeatable in stock car race events through 1954. The 308 cid put out 145 horsepower which was a lot of power under the hood for a car of it’s size. For the 1952 model year, Hudson introduced as an option the “Twin-H Power” induction system. This system used two interconnected manifolds, each feeding three cylinders and with separate carburetors and air cleaners. The Twin-H version of the Hudson engine produced 170 horsepower.

Your first impression might be that the Hudson Hornet doesn’t look like a race car. Well, there were a few things that made the Hornet stand out as a racer. One was the lower floorboard which lowered the center of gravity and that meant better handling. You have to remember that stock car racing back in 1951 was not what it is today. The racers of that era were street legal vehicles which basically came right off the factory assembly line. Today’s NASCAR races are run with greatly modified purpose built cars. In the early 1950′s the Hornet excelled on the racing circuit because of it’s low center of gravity, relatively lighter weight and it’s powerful engine.

hudson hornet interior photo

1951 Hudson Hornet interior and dashboard

The Hudson cars from 1948 to 1954  were named the “Step-Down Line“. The 1951 Hudson Hornet shown in this article inherited the Step-Down attributes which first came out with the 1948 models. The Step-Down models had lower floorboards. Passengers were seated between the built in side frame rails accomplished with it’s “unibody” construction. The 1951 Hornet shown here was considered the top-of-the-line Hudson product in that model year. Interestingly enough, there were only some 500 Hudson Hornets built for the 1951 model year. Another interesting fact is that the Hudson Step-Down design that first started in 1948  was so difficult to retool for that the automaker stuck with the design for six model years until 1954.

The Hudson Motor Car Company was around for a long time, ever since the first decade of the 1900′s. Finally in 1954 the company merged into Nash-Kelvinator which then became the American Motors Corporation. The merger came about after several years of declining sales even though the car was recognized for it’s fine engineering. The company also did not have the cash to retool from the unibody design.

1952 hudson hornet

1952 Hudson Hornet shows basically same design as the 51′s. The 1952 models offered an option of a more powerful 175 HP engine.

Two additional articles with photos on AutoMuseumOnline about very rare cars you’ll find interesting are the Tucker Automobile and the popular Oakland Car.

After 1957 the Hudson nameplate disappeared forever. While the nameplate faded into history, the excellent engineering of this automobile cannot be denied and it’s stock car racing records are the books forever. The Hudson Hornet also remains one of the better examples of post World War Two streamlined car designs. The Hudson Hornet is a popular collector car and you’ll find a good number of the old Hudson cars for sale.

Hudson car clubs are very active. One such online club can be found at hudson car clubshudsonclub.org . According to this online car club, it’s purpose is a free online club for Hudson, Essex, & Terraplane enthusiasts, hobbyists, and car owners. The interest of the club encompass all vehicles wearing the Hudson name, from the early days of Hudson Motor Car Company through to its waining days as an element within American Motors.

Another active Hudson car club is the Southern California Chapter of the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club. The chapter has been around for over forty years and their website is socalhet.org.

(1951 Hudson Hornet photos from author’s private collection. 1952 Hornet photo from the public domain)

Vintage Dodge Charger Photos

1971 Dodge Charger

The automobile shown in this article is a 1971 Dodge Charger. There were three versions of Dodge Chargers introduced. The 1971 Dodge Charger shown here was manufactured on a B-Body. These were built from 1966 to 1978. During the model years 1983 to 1987 the Chargers were built on an L-Body. The full sized four door models have been built since 2006 to the present.

For a variety of reasons the Dodge Charger has been classified by many as a “performance car“. During the first series, 1966-1978, the Charger was one of the best looking muscle cars available.The Dodge Charger generations were classified as the first generation being the 1966 and 1967 model years. The second generation Chargers were the 1968 to 1970 model years. The third generation would be 1971 through 1974 of which the car shown here is among..

Right side profile and back quarter view.

The sales and acceptance of these first Dodge Chargers were so good that Chrysler Corporation hesitated to make any design changes. The changes made in the first generation Chargers were basically insignificant. Slightly new grille designs and a bumper around the grille were about it.

71 Dodge Charger interior

The Charger models were really a big step forward for Chrysler who hadn’t been able to penetrate the youth market to a large degree during the 1960′s. The new Dodge Charger helped grab some of that younger market share. Chrysler did have some success however with the Fastback Valiant which did appeal to the younger driver. The Dodge Charger eventually was the result of Chrysler designers coming up with a Fastback model of the then mid-sized Coronet. In fact, many would say the Charger was a Coronet with a few exceptions. The first Dodge Charger in the 1966 model year was a big car. At 203.6 inches long it was a full 22 inches longer than a 1966 Ford Mustang.

Automakers design cars to match competitor offerings and the Dodge Charger was originally designed to be an answer to the Plymouth Barracuda and the Ford Mustang 2+2. The Dodge Charger being quite big was, as mentioned above, on a larger scale than the Plymouth and Ford models.

Sleek Dodge Charger profile

Some of the accessories, options and design changes for the the Charger were hide-away headlamps and a standard V-8 Engine. Also offered in the first series Chargers was a split fold down rear seatback. This styling change would catch on and be quite popular with a lot of different cars.

There were a variety of engines offered during the third generation Chargers which were known to be the models from 1971 to 1974. All were V-8′s with a range of 318 cid to 440 cid. Horsepower ranged from 230 to 425. Lots of power under the hood.

An interesting side note as to just how much of a performance car the Dodge Charger was known as, the 1966 model’s 426cubic inch Hemi V8 garnered 18 wins for Dodge and the manufacturer’s title during NASCAR’s 1966 Grand National season. Pretty impressive for a new performance car from a manufacturer not necessarily noted for performance engineering prior to that year. The transmission that went along with the 1971 Charger models was a standard three speed manual transmission or an optional three speed “Torqueflite” automatic.

Large hood area on the 71 Dodge Charger

The 1971 Dodge Chargers like the one shown here were resized. The 1971 Dodge Chargers had a 2 inch shorter wheelbase and an overall length 3 inches shorter. The 1971 Charger was also thought to have a Pontiac like grille. The top of the performance 1971 model was the Charger R/T with its standard 440 Magnum V-8rated at a big 370 HP. The car shown in this article has a base 318 cid engine delivering about 230 HP.

(Photos are from author’s private collection)