The year is 1951 and you’re driving a Cadillac Series 62. You’re ripping down an empty road but you see something in your rearview mirror…it’s gaining on you. Soon it catches up and blows your doors off. It’s a Hudson Hornet, and it’s the fastest American car in production that year.
That bit of history comes courtesy of Dave Bonbright. He’s made the trip over to Jay Leno’s Garage to talk Hudson history. In fact, Dave knows so much about these cars that the Pixar team tapped him for help when creating the original “Cars” animated film. One of the main characters is Doc Hudson, which was voiced by Paul Newman.
Hudson was the first company to sponsor stock car racing back in the day. Their cars handled incredibly well compared with other vehicles of the time, and a lot of that is related to the Hudson “step-down” chassis. This design created a lower center of gravity and less body roll compared with the competition. Under the hood, Hudson fitted a massive 5.0-liter inline-6.
Jay and Dave comment that Hudson should have introduced a V8 at some point in the life of the Hornet. Chevy and Ford could do that and see their own models evolve and grow with the demands of car-buying customers. Hudson, sadly, never went that route. The automaker was purchased in 1954 by Nash, which built some more Hornets until that car line was done in 1957.
Eventually, Jay and Dave hop into the 1951 Hudson Hornet and head out on the road. The pair continue to talk about the Hudson as well as some of Dave’s own mechanical abilities and history. It all feels very much like a pair of two car-loving buddies out for a cruise in a lovely old machine.
This article was originally published on MotorAuthority, an editorial partner of ClassicCars.com.