Hudson Hornet Gen 1
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5
1951 Hudson Hornet
Hudson Hornets were available as a two-door coupe, four-door sedan, a convertible and a hardtop coupe. The models were priced the same as Commodore Eight, which was priced from US$2,543 to $3,099. All Hornets (1951
) were powered by Hudson's high-compression straight-six "H-145" engine.
Starting in 1952
an optional "twin-H" or twin one barrel carburetor setup was available at optional cost. A L-head (flathead or sidevalve) design, at 308 cu in (5.0 litre) it was the "largest displacement six-cylinder engine in the world" at the time. It had a two-barrel carburetor and produced 145 hp (108 kW) at 3800 rpm and 275 lb·ft (373 Nm) of torque.
The engine was capable of far more power in the hands of precision tuners, including Marshall Teague, who claimed he could get 112 miles per hour (180.2 km/h) from an AAA- or NASCAR-certified stock Hornet, as well as Hudson engineers who developed "severe usage" options (thinly disguised racing parts).
The combination of the Hudson engine with overall road-ability of the Hornets, plus the fact these cars were over engineered and over built, made them unbeatable in competition on the dirt and the very few paved tracks of the 1950s. The newly introduced "Twin H-Power" was available in November 1951
as a Dealer installed option at the cost of $85.60. An electric clock was standard. Hudson Hornet 1951
model year production totaled 43,656 units.
1952 Hudson Hornet
the "Twin H-Power" version now standard equipment with dual single-barrel carburetors atop a dual-intake manifold, and power rose to170 hp (127 kW). The hood featured a functional scoop that ducts cold air to the carburetors and was considered "ventilation" in 1954, rather than ram air.
The engine could be tuned to produce 210 hp (157 kW) when equipped with the "7-X" modifications that Hudson introduced later. During 1952
the Hornet received minor cosmetic enhancements, and still closely resembled the Commodore of 1948. The Hornet proved near-invincible in stock-car racing.
Despite its racing successes, sales began to languish. Hudson's competitors, using separate body-on-frame designs, could change the look of their models on a yearly basis without expensive chassis alterations" whereas the Hornet's "modern, sophisticated unibody design was expensive to update," so it "was essentially locked in" and "suffered against the planned obsolescence of the Big Three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) automakers. Hudson Hornet 1952
model year production totaled 35,921 units.
1953 Hudson Hornet
model year brought minor changes to the Hudson Hornet. The front end was modified with a new grille and a non-functional air scoop hood ornament. Hudson Hornet 1953 model year production totaled 27,208 units. An 8-tube radio was a $100 option.
1954 Hudson Hornet
Eventually, for the 1954
model year, the model underwent a major square-lined redesign. This entailed extensive retooling because of the way the step-down frame wrapped around the passenger compartment. The front had a simpler grille that complemented the now-functional hood scoop and a new one-piece curved windshield, while the sides gained period-typical fender chrome accents, and the formerly sloped rear end was squared off. The front to rear fender line was styled to make the car look longer and taillamps were also redesigned. The interior was also updated with a new dash and instrument cluster that were surprisingly modern.
There was still no V8 engine available, but the 308 cu in (5.0 litre) six-cylinder in top-line Hornets produced 160 hp (119 kW) and the racing-inspired 170 hp (127 kW) "Twin-H-Power" (7-X) version was optional from the factory. Although the Hornet's redesign put it on par with its contemporaries in terms of looks and style, it came too late to boost sales. The updated Hornet Brougham convertible, the sole convertible available from Hudson, was attractive but overpriced at US$3,288 for a six-cylinder car in 1954
. Hudson Hornet 1954
model year production totaled 24,833 (the final year before the Hudson merger with Nash-Kelvinator).
Hudson was the first automobile
manufacturer to get involved in stock car racing. The Hornet "dominated stock car racing in the early-1950s, when stock car racers actually raced stock cars." During 1952, Marshall Teague finished the 1952 AAA season with a 1000-point lead over his closest rival, winning 12 of the 13 scheduled events. Hornets driven by NASCAR aces Herb Thomas, Dick Rathmann, Al Keller, Frank Mundyand, and Tim Flock won 27 NASCAR races driving for the Hudson team. In the AAA racing circuit, Teague drove a stock Hornet that he called the Fabulous Hudson Hornet to 14 wins during the season.
This brought the Hornet's season record to 40 wins in 48 events, a winning percentage of 83%. Overall, Hudson won 27 of the 34 NASCAR Grand National races in 1952
, followed by 22 wins of 37 in 1953
, and capturing 17 of the 37 races in 1954
- "an incredible accomplishment, especially from a car that had some legitimate luxury credentials." The original Fabulous Hudson Hornet can be found today fully restored in Ypsilanti, Michigan at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, a facility that was formerly home to Miller Motors, the last Hudson dealership in the world.