Car: Hudson Commodore, 1948

Hudson, founded in 1909, was among the last of the American “independents”— carmakers who struggled and ultimately failed in the face of the mighty Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. Although its cars during the 1920–30s were mostly unremarkable, Hudson shocked the burghers of Detroit in 1948 with its range of “Step Down” cars.

1948 model car Hudson Commodore
The Commodore was visually almost identical to the Hornet model shown here, part of a range of “Step Down” cars.

They were so-nicknamed because driver and passengers stepped down into their seats due to a unitary-construction method Hudson called “Monobilt”: instead of the body being bolted on top of the chassis, the floorpan was suspended from the bottom of it. All the occupants sat within the chassis sidemembers, which acted as a strong, encircling perimeter frame. As part of the design, the chassis extended around the outside of the rear wheels.

1948 model car Hudson Commodore
1948 model car Hudson Commodore

Hudson’s stylists then came up with sleek and handsome bodywork that made a 1948 Hudson the “car to own.” The range went from the budget-priced Pacemaker to the Commodore.

1948 model car Hudson Commodore
1948 model car Hudson Commodore

Yet the firm’s sales and fortunes were on the slide under ferocious pressure from the Detroit majors. In 1954, Hudson was forced to merge with Nash to survive.

“The motor car that is thrilling proof of what designers the world over have always known—that the lower a car can be built, the more graceful its lines can be made.”

From A. Hudson Advertisement, 1949

Video model car Hudson Commodore

Specification model car Hudson Commodore

PLACE OF ORIGIN Detroit, Michigan
HISTORICAL STATUS: production car
ENGINE: six-cylinder, 262ci (4,295cc) & eight-cylinder, 254ci (4,164cc)
MAXIMUM POWER: 121bhp (six-cylinder) & 128bhp (eight-cylinder)
LAYOUTv front-mounted engine driving the front wheels
BODYWORK: six-seater saloon
TOP SPEED: 93mph (150kph)