The Hudson Motor Car Company is perhaps best known among enthusiasts for the iconic “Fabulous Hudson Hornet” racers that were produced from 1951-1954, but of course Hudson’s roots go all the way back to the dawn of the Automotive industry. Hudson got its name from its first financial backer, J.L. Hudson of Hudson’s Department Store fame. The initial goal of this new car builder was to produce a quality car that cost under $1000. The first Hudson Model 20 rolled out of the Detroit plant in July of 1909, and in 1910, 4,500 units found buyers – a remarkable achievement for the first full year of production. Hudson enjoyed steady volume sales through the 1920’s, but was hit hard by the Great Depression. Sales ebbed and flowed over the years, but their earlier successes were never repeated.
Despite it being best known for car production, Hudson also had a long history of building light-duty trucks for the consumer market. In typical Hudson fashion, their trucks were unconventional, stylish and innovative. In the early 30s, Hudson had converted a number of unsold coupes into dealer-service vehicles by removing the trunk lid and installing a small bed in its place. The idea spawned the “Utility Coupe” of 1937; a typically swoopy Hudson coupe that concealed a sliding utility bed in the trunk. For the truncated 1942 model year, the Utility Coupe was replaced with the Cab-Pickup, a car-like pickup that utilized automobile sheet metal up front with a pickup bed in the rear. The obvious advantages over a more conventional pickup were the lower ride height for easy driving, as well as lighter weight and car-like handling. It was also quite stylish, and would make a bold statement for businesses using a Hudson truck for commercial purposes. In 1946, the Cab-Pickup was joined by the 128” wheelbase Big Boy, a ¾ ton version with Hudson Business Coupe sheetmetal. Motivation came from Hudson’s legendary L-head six-cylinder engines, best known for dominating the early days of stock car racing. Through the years, Hudson Big Boy pickups have gained a loyal following thanks to their rarity, uniquely stylish looks and exceptional performance.
This outstanding 1947 Hudson Big Boy pickup has been restored and mildly, yet tastefully hot-rodded to a period-appropriate look. The Hudson Big Boy provides a fantastic base for such a hot rod, thanks to the factory chopped-top look, long swoopy fenders and low ride height. This particular example exhibits good panel fit and very attractive black paintwork with subtle dark red and gold accents. Is sits low, riding on classic red-painted steel wheels with Hudson dog-dish hubcaps, red-striped beauty rings and wide-whitewall tires. Dual sidemount spares are affixed to the bed, just behind the cab. The original Hudson chrome trim on the body is in excellent condition and the intricate grille features a pair of period correct amber fog lights. The oak bed floor planks have been restored and refinished to a high gloss shine. The truck sits just a bit lower than stock with a slight nose-down rake, and in combination with the original accessory sun visor, it makes a dramatic visual statement particularly in profile. From every angle, this Hudson truck just oozes cool.
As with the exterior, the interior is executed in a subtle and restrained manner with high quality fit and finish. The custom upholstery work was performed by John Espinoza of California, renowned master trimmer for the late Boyd Coddington. The seats and door panels are covered in custom stitched tan upholstery, accented with lovely oatmeal squareweave carpet bound in tan. A black painted dash is accented with original gold metallic inserts, striped in red as original. Wonderful original gauges remain intact as well as the original clock in the glovebox. But the highlight of the interior is undoubtedly the fabulous art-deco styled Hudson radio in the center of the dash, which has been restored back to operating condition. The original steering wheel has been restored, and the front vent windows feature cool red inserts.
As with any hot rod, what’s under the hood matters and in this case it is Hudson’s 308 cubic inch inline six. While the uninitiated might scoff at the idea of a six-cylinder hot rod, Hudson’s six was a fantastic engine – smooth, powerful and immensely strong. Of course, things have not been left totally stock; in this case the original 262 cubic inch engine was replaced with Hudson’s more powerful 308 cubic inch six, which could develop upwards of 170 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque. It has been upgraded with 12V electrics and a period appropriate, factory Hudson Twin-H Power intake; a factory dual carburetor setup that first appeared as an over-the-counter dealer option in 1951. With its dual Carter WA1 carburetors and signature individual air-cleaners painted lurid red, the Twin-H Power setup was proven on the street and the track, giving the Hudson Hornet racers the power to match their handling in the early days of Nascar Grand National racing. The engine is painted in signature Hudson gold with correctly detailed air cleaners and a matching red fan shroud, striped to complement the Twin-H logos. Mated column-shifted automatic transmission this Big Boy has plenty of “go”.
Hudson was never a large volume producer, and their pickups often served hard lives in commercial duty, so surviving examples are coveted by enthusiast. This fabulous truck has an outstanding look; built to a high standard of quality without ever feeling over-restored or clinical. The upgrades are subtle, well-judged and period appropriate, making this a fantastic choice for cruises, hot-rod tours or maybe even weekend runs to the garden center. We can almost guarantee you won’t see another one like it.