Top-10 Favorite Hudsons

In the spirit of ESPN and its promotion of Hamilton, we continue — and conclude — our series, this time featuring favorite Hudsons

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Twin H-Power was the name for Hudson's high-compression inline 6-cylinder engines | Larry Edsall photo

Inspired by ESPN’s recent promotion of the debut of the Broadway musical Hamilton on Disney+, we’ve presented our twist on the Sports Center Top-10 with our Top-10 Favorite Fords, Top-10 Favorite Chevrolets, Top-10 Favorite Dodges, Top-10 Favorite Plymouths, and Top-10 Favorite Pontiacs.

Since there’s been no popular demand to the contrary, and with apologies to the Henry Hudson, the Hudson River, Hudson Bay, Hudson Hawk, Rock Hudson, and the Hudson Brothers, we conclude the series with our Top-10 Favorite Hudsons:

10. HUdson 3-2700 — If you grew up in the Chicago area in the second half of the 20th Century, you were familiar with the telephone number HUdson 3-2700 thanks to a commercials that seemed as though they were broadcast every 15 minutes. The commercials were for a carpet and upholstery cleaning company that had been in business since 1903. While I still remember the telephone number, I didn’t know until I checked what the name of the business was. It was Boushelle.

1937 Hudson Terraplane pickup truck | Larry Edsall photo

9. Hudson Terraplane — Hudson Motor Car was founded in 1909 (and named for J.L. Hudson, the Detroit department store owner who put up the money to establish the car company). From 1932 to 1938, Hudson produced the Terraplane in both car and pickup truck versions and they outsold the company’s Hudson-badged vehicles, which contributed to the decision to drop the Terraplane from the lineup.

Bette Davis (left) and Joan Crawford starred at the Hudson sisters in the movie, ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’

8. Baby Jane Hudson — As in the book and movie, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with Bette Davis (Jane) and Joan Crawford (Blanche) portraying the Hudson sisters in the 1962 film of sibling rivalry and psychological horror.

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7. Target — That’s Target as in the popular shopping destination, but what does it have to do with Hudson? Simply this: In 1969, Minnesota-based Dayton Corporation, which in 1962 launched its Target discount stores, acquired the J.L. Hudson Company of Detroit to form the Dayton Hudson Corporation. In 1881 Joseph Lowthian Hudson had established his department store in Detroit. In 1909 he invested in a new car company being launched by four executives who left Oldsmobile after it became part of General Motors. Rather than name the company after any of its founders, it was named for its primary investor.

6. Hudson High School football team — Once upon a time, they made a movie, Hoosiers, about a small-town high school basketball team that won the big-time Indiana state championship. But from 1968-1975, the high school football team tiny southern Michigan community of Hudson strung together an amazing — and national-record — 72-game winning streak. The team was coached by Tom Saylor, who was in his mid-20s when the streak began and who owned the local donut shop to supplement his income as a social studies teacher.

5. Hostetler Hudson Museum — Farm-equipment inventor Eldon Hostetler was fascinated by Hudson automobiles and assembled the world’s largest collection of them in Shipshewana, Indiana, where a year after his widow’s death, the town closed the museum and sold off all the cars. 

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“It was almost as if the bidders knew they were participating in something very special and were honoring Hostetler and his Hudsons by preserving his cars,” I wrote at the time of an event that felt more like a funeral than an auction. Of more than 60 vehicles sold, 32 went for auction-record prices.

Worldwide Auctioneers photo
Door detail | Larry Edsall photo

4. 1951 Hudson Brougham parade car — For the 1951 model year, Hudson introduced its new post-war designed “step down” model, the lower-slung Hornet. Of the more than 43,000 produced, only 2,100 were 2-door “Hollywood” coupes and 551 were convertibles. One of those Brougham convertibles was modified for use in film and as a parade car. Among the modifications were a cut-down windshield, Continental spare-tire kit and “scooped” doors. The car also was equipped with a GM Hydra-Matic automatic transmission for its specialized roles.

Worldwide Auctioneers photo

3. Hudson Italia — Hudson took part in the Detroit/Italy car connection so popular in the 1950s when it worked with Carrozzeria Touring to produce 26 examples of the Hudson Italia for the 1955 model year. In a last-gasp effort to boost sales enough to keep Hudson independent, Hudson’s chief engineer Frank Spring and designer Art Kibiger designed a sleek coupe that was to race in the Carrera Panamerica. At least 25 examples were needed to qualify for the famed Mexican Road Race, so Hudson turned to Touring to produce the Italia, which made its debut at the Detroit auto show in 1953 but didn’t go into production until the late summer of 1954, after the merger with Nash had been completed.  

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This vintage Hudson coverted into full-scale version of ‘Cars’ character Doc Hudson | By Jared from Clermont – Orlando – Disney World

2. Doc Hudson — Actor/racer Paul Newman voiced the role of Doc Hudson (Dr. Hudson Hornet, MD) in Pixar’s original Cars movie. Doc was the Fabulous Hudson Hornet of NASCAR fame who, after a horrible crash, had retired to Radiator Springs, where he encounters a brash, young but lost would-be star in Lightning McQueen and teaches him how to be a true winner on and off the race track.

This, the last remaining authentic Fabulous Hudson Hornet race car sold at auction for $1.265 million | Worldwide Auctioneers photo

1 Fabulous Hudson Hornet — In 1951, stock car racer Marshall Teague convinced Hudson to challenge Detroit’s “Big Three” with a factory racing effort that produced a victory in its first outing as Teague won the big Daytona Beach race that February. Teague recruited fellow Daytona Beach resident “Smokey” Yunick to prepare the Hudson Hornets and their lower center of gravity and “Twin H-Power” 6-cylinder engines for competition and also convinced the factory to supply the special “severe usage” optional parts (made legal for racing by being labeled as “export” parts) that helped the Hornets and their drivers dominate the tracks for three seasons before Hudson merged with Nash to become American Motors. 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. While living in Indiana I heard about a car show going on not to far away at the privet collection location of a man that collected Hudsons. It turned out to be way out in Amish country. Outside was a Hudson woody. I have never seen another one and it was the most beautiful woody I have ever seen and I have seen a few like all the ones that show up for the Woodies on the Wharf in Santa Cruz CA. I wish I had a picture of it so show you. The story I heard was that it was found in the woods off its frame and being used to hall fire wood up and down a mountain slope. It then sat for some time before a new owner got it and commissioned its restoration. It sure should be included in your picks above.

  2. Oh, Mr. E- yer killin’ me here. “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane”?! Scariest megastar movie ever… I commend to you the dinner scene with the bird. Bette Davis- a great among greats. Joan Crawford, ditto; word is (and subsequent media supports) that these two despised each other their entire lives, what better vehicle then? Movie creeped me right out when I saw it as a 9-10 year old; still does. Brrrr!
    Nice to remember the cars I used to see as a rural Indiana kid. The Terraplane p/u shows a great use of color. The one I remember belonged to Mr. Hiram, a local farmer & church deacon; it was sort of a muddy, almost Army green, sans all the sparkly trim. Wish I knew where it went.

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