The 1954 Hudson Italia
Ah, what might have been…
By the early 50s, post war Hudson was falling behind in sales, and taking a major gamble on a little car- The boxy and somewhat awkward Hudson Jet. The studio’s chief styling designer was Frank Spring (the man who brought ‘step down’ style to Hudson!), and he was pretty upset at how his original low roofline design for the car got bastardized by Hudson’s president A.E. Barit and Murray body works. He was so frustrated that he was contemplating leaving the studio when the top brass decided to let him design what he really wanted: A flagship European-inspired experimental sports coupe that might rival Corvette or the then-new Thunderbird. The idea was to bring up the brand recognition, and test how the public might react to future styling ideas.
Spring worked closely with Touring Body Works/ Superleggera Carrozzeria of Milan, Italy to bring his aircraft-inspired dream to life. Rocket pod taillights, door tops curving into the roof, and fender scoop air intakes were all very radical styling cues that were lavished upon the all-aluminum concept car, built on a compact Jet chassis. After a wildly successful touring stint at Hudson dealers across the country, the green light was given to build 50 production cars at the Milan studio, dubbed the “Super Jet”. Unfortunately, by the time the first 10 Italia’s were built, Hudson was already sliding into bankruptcy with a Nash merger taking place shortly thereafter. The newly-founded A.M.C. dictated that any more builds of the car would have to be by pre-paid customer order. With the price being on par with a Cadillac, yet retaining measly Hudson Jet underpinnings, the car was doomed. Only 26 Italia’s were built, but almost all of them (21 of the 26) are still around today.