1949 • Hudson Commodore 8 « Series 494 » Four-door sedan UNSOLD
Location of the lot Cannes (06), France
Bullet point A rare opportunity in Europe to acquire the last great Hudson
and also A style and technical choices that have made history in the American automobile
Engine capacity4262 cc
Number of cylinders8
Number of gears 3
Estimate €29,000 - 35,000
In our latitudes, Hudson - which disappeared in 1954 when the firm merged with Nash-Kelvinator to form American Motors - is certainly not the best known of American brands, but it has benefited from a recent resurgence of notoriety thanks to the "Cars" series of films produced by Pixar between 2006 and 2017. In these animated feature films, where all the characters are cars or trucks, one of the heroes is named Doc Hudson; it is a 1951 Hornet, i.e. a car very close to the Commodore 8 we are dealing with today, which corresponds to the third generation of the model, launched at the end of 1947. A Hudson Commodore 8 also appears in Jack Kerouac's book "On the Road", of which a film adaptation has been made. The model symbolises adventure and freedom.
It is not too much to say that, with the exception of the very confidential contemporary Tucker, the Hudson "Step-Down" line, to which the Commodore belongs, embodied the best the American automobile industry could produce in terms of technical and aesthetic innovations. The expression "Step-Down" is very telling: it indicates the point in time when people started getting down into cars instead of stepping up into them. The volumes of the bodywork designed by Art Kibiger and Frank Spring reflect this in a very appropriate way: unusually low, the Commodore and its sister cars in the range are distinguished by an innovative design, nicknamed "bathtub styling", in reference to the "bathtub" aspect suggested by the very enveloping shapes, going as far as the fairing of the rear wheels, which were retained to cover a structure that was also ahead of its time. This structure, built according to a new concept called "Monobilt", took a big step towards a monocoque architecture, but without really subscribing to it. In essence, the floor of the car, surrounded by the side members instead of being on top of them, dictated the low profile, which instantly defeated the competitors offered at the time by the "Big Three" - that is, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. But it wasn't just the styling that benefited: with a centre of gravity that was significantly lower than the norm at the time, the road qualities of the Hudson Step-Down were widely praised and played a key role in the brand's success in the first races organised by the fledgling National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).
The Commodore sedan offered here left the factory in January 1949 and belongs to the 494 series equipped with the in-line 8-cylinder side-valve engine that topped the range. Its current owner acquired it in March 2017 in North Carolina, from its then owner who had been taking care of it since 1977. It has therefore only had two owners in forty-five years. In the last five years, approximately 2500 miles (4000 km) have been covered out of the 95592 (154000 km) displayed by the odometer (uncertified value). This Hudson is not covered by a warranty, but it is accompanied by an important on-board documentation including the user's manual, the technical review, the electrical diagram, the lubrication plan and the manual for the car radio. The last technical inspection was carried out in July 2019.
The bodywork of the car was repainted under its previous owner’s custody but has retained its original colour, "Gray Gold". The brightwork was also re-chromed. The whitewall Firestone tyres, 40% worn, are fitted to the original 15-inch steel wheels, sporting their covers. The spare wheel, identical to the other four, is fixed in the boot (photo 027).
The upholstery is original and in good condition despite seven decades of use. However, the front bench seat has tears (photo 057) which can easily be repaired with the help of the fabric roll provided by the seller (photo 059). The interior is enhanced by painted metal elements imitating wood on the dashboard and the door panels. The instrumentation is complete and functional, with the exception of the clock. In the centre of the dashboard is a vintage car radio with preselection, which was overhauled in 1995 by a Floridian specialist who also modified it to enable the reception of FM stations, and which is also in working order (photo 067).
The engine, type 300000 L298, corresponds to the production year 1949. The engine, transmission and three-speed gearbox have not been in the need of any recent interventions. The Franza Sport workshop in Antibes carried out a brake system overhaul in July 2019 (photo 068), including replacement of the master cylinder, wheel cylinders and linings.