The Hudson Motor Company was on the brink of extinction. It was the ’50s and the Big Three automotive manufacturers left very few buyers available to the few orphan manufacturers who made it through World War II. Hudson was one of those companies that thrived for a short time on their NASCAR reputation even though the big six cylinder engines were a thing of the past. If it didn’t have a V8 it probably wouldn’t sell in the progressive 1950’s.
In 1953 the small Hudson Motor Company took a shot at producing a car that might capture the imaginations of a progressive American public, the 1953 Hudson Italia prototype. Hudson design director Frank Spring hired an Italian styling salon called Carrozzeria Touring to build a prototype. The result was the 1953 Hudson Italia (shown here.) Before the car could be put into full production Nash took over Hudson. Only 26 Hudson Italias were ever produced. Spring had to save prototype #01 when he stashed it away to make sure it would not be crushed as is the fate of so many prototypes. This car has been cared for by Hudson collectors ever since. Now it is for sale through RK Motors Charlotte. This is a significant find for a collector who seeks to preserve our automotive history.
Spring, a Paris-educated engineer, had consistently pushed his corporate leaders to position Hudson as an innovative brand. This resulted in several industry breakthroughs including the first balanced crankshaft, the first application of dual brakes, the first ‘step down’ unit-body and, of course, Hudson’s famous ‘in motion’ design theme. On the other side of the partnership, a post-war Touring had successfully filled contracts for Alfa Romeo, BMW and Ferrari and, knowing his serious background in coachwork, was actively courting Spring for Hudson projects. Finally, in 1953, Hudson management agreed to budget an ‘experimental’, Spring-designed sports car.
Spring passed his beloved Italia prototype on to a close friend who, in addition to driving 27K miles in roughly 20 years, ordered a standard repaint and removed its custom header letters. And when that friend passed, his obituary ran in the monthly Hudson Essex Terraplane newsletter giving the car’s current owner, who was very concerned about its continued preservation, a chance to amplify his Hudson collection.
Hardly touched and never disassembled, this coupe’s 202 cubic inch, side-valve 6-cylinder spins strong 8 to 1 compression into a solid 114 horsepower. With a top speed of 95 mph and standing start times comparable to Chevrolet’s iconic Corvette, a Hudson ‘Twin H-power induction’ system mixes air from two small toppers with fuel that’s supplied by two Carter carburetors and familiar stainless fluid lines to feed the flathead mill. That air and fuel travels into an “L-head” aluminum head where it’s combusted by large pistons and proven Atlas connecting rods.
This car was way ahead of its time. But time was something Hudson did not have. Things may have been different had Hudson survived those early years of the 1950’s. But that’s what makes a collector market. Now this one-of-a-kind prototype is a priceless souvenir of a time never to be revisited except from behind the wheel of its sweet Italian styled interior.
This car has been SOLD.
This prototype was featured in the newest edition of the Cars On Line.com newsletter. Click here to read more articles about rare and historic American cars.