Hudson Commodore

The Hudson Commodore is an automobile that was produced by the Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan between 1941 and 1952. During its time in production, the Commodore was the largest and most luxurious Hudson model.

Hudson Commodore
Hudson Commodore Eight Convertible 1947.jpg
1947 Hudson Commodore Convertible Brougham
ManufacturerHudson Motor Car Company
AssemblyDetroit, Michigan, United States
Body and chassis
LayoutFR layout
PredecessorHudson Greater Eight

First generationEdit

First generation
941 Hudson Commodore 8 Convertible
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe
4-door sedan
2-door convertible
Engine202 cu in (3.3 L) I6
254.4 cu in (4.2 L) I8
Wheelbase121 in (3,073 mm)[1]
Custom sedan: 128 in (3,251 mm)


The Commodore Series 12 and Series 14 were the junior models to the Commodore Custom Series 15 and Series 17, and debuted in Hudson's 1941 model line. Commodore Series 12 featured a I6 engine and the Series 14 models came with a I8, with all built on a 121-inch (3,073 mm) wheelbase, while Commodore Customs utilized on the 121 in (3,073 mm) wheelbase for Series 15 coupes and a 128 in (3,251 mm) version for Series 17 sedans.

The Commodore was powered by Hudson's 202 cu in (3.3 L) I6 producing 102 bhp (76 kW), or by Hudson's 254.4 cu in (4.2 L) I8 that produced 128 bhp (95 kW). Prices listed for the Series 12 coupe started at US$1,028 ($18,939 in 2021 dollars [2]) to the top level Custom Series 17 Sedan at US$1,537 ($28,316 in 2021 dollars [2]).[3]

The Commodore series was Hudson's largest model range in its debut year, consisting of sedans, coupes, and convertibles. Hudson used a forward hinged hood that opened from the rear by the windshield with the front end of the hood sliding downward over the grille. Elements of the interior and exterior were styled by Betty Thatcher, "the first woman designer to be employed by a car manufacturer".[4]


For 1942, the cars received a facelift. This included concealed running boards, modestly enlarged front grilles, and external trim arrangements. Hudson offered an optional "Drive-Master" vacuum assisted clutch with a servo-operated transmission with three modes: "automatic" shifting and clutching, automated clutching only, or fully manual.[5]

The firm promoted its economy over luxury during the shortened model year that ended in January 1942, as U.S. war production accelerated.

Second generationEdit

Second generation
1947 Hudson Commodore Super Six four-door sedan
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe
4-door sedan
2-door convertible
2-door pickup


1946 Hudson Commodore Eight coupé

Hudson began postwar automobile production on August 30, 1945. Body styles were trimmed to Sedan, Club Coupe, and Convertible. The designs were based on the 1942 models.[6] There were minor cosmetic changes from the pre-war versions with one exception, the car's grille now had a concave center section.

Hudson automobiles were more fully equipped than competitive makes, and all Hudson models received door armrests, twin air-horns, ashtrays, windshield wipers, stop lights, locking glove box, sealed beam headlights, and deep pile carpeting. Commodore and Commodore Customs added foam rubber seat cushions (Hudson was the first automaker to introduce foam seat cushions), door-step courtesy lights, rear armrest (sedans), and gold etched lettering on the dashboard panel.


Production of the 1947 Hudson Commodore Eight increased to 12,593 from the previous year's 8,193.[6]

Third generationEdit

Third generation
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe
4-door sedan
2-door convertible


Introduced in December 1947, the Hudson Commodore was one of the first new-design postwar cars made.[7] The 1948 model year inaugurated Hudson's trademarked "Monobuilt" construction or "step-down" automobile. The new cars were designed by Frank Spring.

The cars had a light, but strong semi-unit body with a perimeter frame. Because of the encircling frame, passengers stepped down into the vehicles. Hudson's step-down design made the body lower than contemporary cars. It offered passengers the safety of being surrounded by the car's chassis with a lower center of gravity. In addition to the added safety of being surrounded by the car's chassis, the step-down also allowed Hudson to gain weight savings provided through unibody construction, making for a well-performing automobile. The cars featured slab-sided bodies with fully integrated fenders. Brougham and sedans were of a fastback design while convertibles and coupes were notchbacks. A character line ran from the front to back further lowering the car even more visually, so "the new Hudson looked like a dream car straight from the auto show."[8]

In 1948, Commodores came in one series and were available in either I8 or I6 engines. Interiors were upholstered in broadcloth on sedans, and leather on convertibles. Again, Hudson continued to provide numerous standard features that other manufacturers classified as upcharge options. Commodore Eight production rose to 35,315 units.

Sir VivalEdit

In response to the increasing number of deaths on highways in the United States after World War II, an innovative concept car was designed and built for safety rather than for style or speed.[9] Using two 1948 Hudsons, Walter Jerome, built a hinged two-section car to minimize impact of collisions.[10] Among its many features are a centrally-positioned, raised 36 in (91 cm) turret-shaped driver compartment providing panoramic visibility, as well as safety equipment that would later become standard on production vehicles such as rubber bumpers, seat belts, and side marker lights.[11] Jerome had purchased the two donor Hudsons from Bellingham Motors, a Hudson dealership in Massachusetts, and was planning to build up to a dozen Sir Vivals per year, but only the prototype was completed and in early-1970s, it went back to Bellingham Motors for storage.[11][12]


1949 Hudson Commodore sedan

For the 1949 model year, the Commodore line was enlarged to include more luxurious Custom models. As a marketing promotion, Hudson had plastic specialists use scaled-down blueprints to develop transparent models of the Commodore Eight sedan to demonstrate and promote the design and construction of the cars.[13]


There were only nominal trim changes on the exterior of the cars in successive model years. A new Custom Commodore convertible model debuted in mid-April 1950. This year redesigned the interior and it got a rear split back window.


1952 two-door hardtop, rear

In 1951, Hudson introduced a new I6 engine and offered General Motors' Hydra-Matic as an optional transmission. The grille was redesigned from a rather rectangular shape to an oval shape, a design that would carry through to 1953. The grille would be redesigned again in 1954, the last year for the famous aerodynamic Hudson body style which was used from 1948 until 1954.


In its final year in 1952, the Commodore was split into the Six Series and Eight Series. The exterior received another trim change, but by the end of 1953, the Step-Down styling was beginning to look outdated. Instead of redesigning the aging Hudson models, company President A. E. Barit pushed ahead with the firm's plan for the Jet compact.

Beginning in 1953, Hudson would field only the Hudson Hornet and Hudson Wasp line, as well as introduce the entirely new Hudson Jet compact car line.

Following Hudson's merger with Nash to form American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1954, Hudson automobile production was switched to AMC's facility in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Following slow sales of the 1955 model year, AMC chose to hand over the Hudson styling contract to Richard Arbib, who created a unique look for the Hudson line based on what he termed as "V-Line" styling. The design failed to attract new customers to Hudson, and production fell even further.

1957 showcarEdit

In its final year, the Hudson brand was pared down to a single model, the Hudson Hornet in two trim levels, the top-level Custom, and the Super. However, during the show car season, AMC issued a one-off 1957 Hudson Commodore show car that was identical to the production Hornet, but featured gold exterior trim and special upholstery.


  1. ^ "1942 Hudson brochure". p. 5. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  2. ^ a b 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  3. ^ Kimes, Beverly (1996). standard catalog of American Cars 1805–1942. Krause publications. pp. 723–748. ISBN 9780873414784.
  4. ^ "Collection in Action - H". Franschhoek Motor Museum, South Africa. 26 August 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  5. ^ Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (16 September 2007). "1942 Hudson". Archived from the original on 12 August 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (20 July 2007). "1946-1947 Hudson Commodore Eight". Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Neely, William, John Lamm (1975). Cars to remember: thirty-seven great automobiles in retrospect. Regnery. p. 71. ISBN 9780809282418.
  8. ^ Flory, J. Kelly (2008). American Cars, 1946-1959: Every Model, Year by Year. McFarland. p. 153. ISBN 9780786432295.
  9. ^ Marquis, Erin (8 June 2022). "The Split-in-Two Hudson 'Sir Vival' Was Designed to Be Safe on Dangerous 1950s Roads". Jalopnik. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  10. ^ Kozak, Graham (28 October 2013). "Meet Sir Vival, the safety car from a future that wasn't". Autoweek. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  11. ^ a b Peek, Jeff (22 March 2022). "This center-hinged car was all about Sir Vival in 1958". Hagerty. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  12. ^ "1958 Sir Vival". Bellingham Auto Sales. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  13. ^ "Model Cars Built on Production Line". Popular Science. Vol. 154, no. 1. January 1949. p. 192. Retrieved 18 April 2022 – via Google Books.
  • Gunnell, John, ed. (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Krause Publications. ISBN 9780873410960.
  • Conde, John A. (1987). The American Motors Family Album. American Motors Corporation. OCLC 3185581.

External linksEdit