Story and Photos Mike Spicer
Sometimes you find cars and sometimes they find you. In this case the 1950 Hudson definitely found me – There I was in an old chicken barn crawling around a couple dozen vintage cars to photograph them to be sold (my 88 year old friend was tired of paying storage on them). I had only 15 minutes per car to document the particulars for any prospective buyer so time was of the essence.
I quickly moved around this eclectic collection bouncing from Alfa Romeos and muscle cars to a Dodge Lancer and a host of Chrysler Imperials. The condition of each car varied but the one thing they shared was they all entered the barn under their own power, just different decades.
“Guess you would have to say it was love at first sight.”
Photographing cars is something I love, but at this pace I was breaking a sweat. I was focused on the task at hand and trying to get through each car as quickly as possible when all of a sudden I spy a 1950 Hudson Super Six in the corner. At first it was just another car to photograph, but as I came closer I stopped being a photographer and just started to admire this car’s beauty. Guess you would have to say it was love at first sight!
The lines of the car and its 53k originality stood out, but even more than that, the personality and soul of the car seemed to silently call to me. Mind you I have always admired 50’s cars but never had the inclination to own one. This car was special and not knowing anything about Hudson’s I add it to my motor-pool, thus the 1950 Hudson Super Six followed me home and my journey began.
Excited like a little kid on Christmas, I quickly joined Hudson forums and became acquainted with the community of owners online all over the world. It having sat so long, I needed to touch many of the mechanical bits. It had obviously been well cared for over its life as under the hood and trunk were quite tidy but I freshened up the radiator, belts/hoses, clutch, brakes, tires, and gas tank.
Soon I was driving a manual 3-on-the-tree (gear shift pattern) and operating a car like people use to. Easing in and out of the factory overdrive and learning how it liked to be treated. The reaction from other drivers was something I didn’t see coming. Everyone I came in contact with old and new greeted me with a smile. The same magic trance that stopped me in my tracks when I first saw the Hudson was working on others. The courtesy and politeness that seemed to evaporate from the busy streets was in full effect.
The interior immediately transports me to a different era. Its non-busy dashboard and art deco styling is like an untouched time capsule from 1950. The front corner of the windshield has a sticker the original owner attached that says “Golden Centennial 1852-1952 Montana Guest”. I close my eyes and can see that new owner driving the car to Montana two years after they bought it. The car just oozes history.
Hudsons were quite advanced for their time; one innovation was the “step-down” body. Riders stepped down into a floor that was surrounded by the perimeter of the car’s frame. The result was a lower center of gravity which gave the car superior handling and allowed it to dominate Stock Car racing from 1951-1954. Most U.S. automakers would soon embrace this technology and use it in the design of their car bodies.
Recently I was on a car rally and during one evening at dinner I sat next to Jay Ward Creative Director and “automotive” consultant for the “Cars” animated film franchise from Pixar. Doc Hudson the Pixar “Cars” movie character is modeled after a Hudson Hornet and has made the Hudson name famous again for multiple generations since being discontinued in 1954. Jay and I obviously shared a mutual affection for the Hudson and agreed its shape is a quintessential representation for American automobiles of that time.
The journey with the Hudson has been an unexpected joy. Every time I’m around the car or climb inside it’s a special event. Wherever driving the car, I’m split between driving forward into the future while being reminded so much of the past. This puts me securely in the present moment and that’s a real treat.