This beautiful 1949 Hudson Commodore Custom Six convertible is not quite the car for a purist—if you skip down to the photos you’ll see Twin-H power under the hood. On the other hand, that makes it a sparking performer, especially with the 3-speed manual gearbox and overdrive. The restoration is perhaps 15 years old but there’s straight, clean bodywork underneath, doors that close well (Hudson convertible doors can be problematic), and really nice chrome and stainless trim. It’s loaded with accessories like the bumper guards and fog lights up front, more bumper guards in back, and, of course, a visor (which is in the trunk). I also really like the light-up hood emblem and this is one of those rare cars where fender skirts make it work and which would look strange without them. It’s long, low, and sleek.
The lovely burgundy interior is expertly trimmed and quite luxurious—remember that Hudson was competing with Buick with this car, so it wasn’t a cheap machine. The faux woodgraining on the dash is very convincing and all the gauges work, as does the radio. We recently serviced the power windows and top, so they’re all working correctly as well, albeit slowly in this cold weather. The steering wheel and other plastics are in great shape, although there’s some spalling on the horn button. The fog lights use their own switch on the dash that matches the headlight switch, and an accessory tissue dispenser is a nice touch. The tan canvas top is in great shape and stows under a matching burgundy boot that fits extremely well. The trunk is also trimmed in neatly bound carpets and includes a full-sized spare and jack assembly.
With a later 308 cubic inch inline-6 and Twin-H dual carburetors from a Hornet, this Commodore gets a nice boost in performance compared to the original six. It’s correctly detailed with gold paint on the engine, bright red air cleaners, and a new wiring harness. It’s also well tuned, started easily, idling smoothly, and pulling the big ragtop around with genuine enthusiasm. It’s probably not as racy as it was in the lightweight Hornet, but it’s certainly the fastest ’49 Hudson you’ll drive. Clutch action is light and smooth (no problems with the cork clutch), and the 3-speed manual gearbox shifts well. Overdrive makes this a genuine 70 MPH cruiser that should keep up with any traffic you’ll encounter. The undercarriage isn’t restored but it’s solid and clean with no rust issues or patching—critical in the unit-body Hudson. Check out the unique structure under there, too, which an interesting study in early unit-body construction. Brakes are powerful, handling is surprisingly competent, and it has a great six-cylinder grumble on the road. Steel wheels with hubcaps carry fat G78-15 wide whites for a correct 1940s look.
Hudsons seem to live in a strange place in the hobby—either you’re indifferent to them or you REALLY like them. This car makes it easy to understand why their fans are so passionate. Great performance, a unique look that’s increasingly attractive today, and big car comfort, all at a relatively reasonable price make them a great alternative to the same-old, same-old. This one is aggressively priced and I really don’t think it’ll last long. It’s a good one.
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