The Downtown Hudson

My Dad always knows where old cars and trucks like to hide. Perhaps you have a father or a friend that has the same hound-like sense for vintage tin and can sniff it out while passing through a town. Its a valuable skill that few are equipped with, but it does make for some interesting finds. On a recent trip home my Dad and I ran some errands and he mentioned that an old 40's-era car was lurking in the shadows of a repair shop downtown Antioch, Illinois. It was an old radiator repair shop years ago but had changed hands since. Its located near a side street just a block or so off the main drag, out of sight of most passing motorists. Dad asked if we wanted to swing by there on the way to pickup dinner, and of course the answer was yes. We drove past the old movie theater we used to see cheap films at, all the downtown 24 greasy spoons my brothers and I ate at when we were teenagers, and the old music store my friend's family owned. As we turned down the street where the repair shop was, hiding between a trailer and part of a Chevy S-10 was the old car Dad talked about. At first we weren't sure what make it was, but the suicide doors and narrow cowl area screamed 1939/1940 domestic. From the street it looked like a Plymouth, but not enough like Plymouth. The hood and trim looked like a Studebaker, but it was missing the S on the hood trim. Then we got out and started to check the old girl out, and noticed its flat, raked roofline and a telltale Bakelite V emblem on the side of the hood. This was a 1940 Hudson Country Club Sedan, and it was in decent shape for being 74 years old. Here's a few photos of a car that we don't often see.

Dad checking out the all-important phone number and price on the for sale sign. (The asking price is $4,500 for this one.)

The Country Club Touring Sedan was available in 1940 as a six or eight cylinder car, and both weren't very popular. In fact, Hudson sold less cars this model year than the year before, which cost the automaker money. Its a shame, since the long sedans actually looked pretty good, albeit...distinct. As the advertisement below suggests these cars could be had with or without running boards. The model for sale sports them, and they remain solidly attached and have little rust.

Hudson's straight eight was the cheapest in the U.S. in 1940, offering big-car amenities at a lower price. Photo Credit: Classic Car Catalogue

Being familiar with older Chevrolets, Dad and I picked up a lot of details on this Hudson as we looked it over, including the art deco lettering on the side of the hood. The Hudson "V" emblem and speed lines followed the length of the belt line on this car, which the lower series models didn't have. These warmed-over styling cues of the 1930's remained on Hudson and many other automakers in the early 1940's as they struggled to evolve.

The side trim on the hood bumps out on the front, and wrap around to give the illusion of air scoops. Something that I noticed underneath the car was the large, splayed shock absorbers and independent front suspension. 1940 was the first year for this feature, which the company called "Auto Poise Control" in sales literature.

Below the for sale sign, this 1966 Chicago city sticker remained in perfectly legible form. A lot of older Chicago cars found homes in Illinois' Chain O'Lakes region over the decades as many city dwellers vacationed or lived part of their years in a more rural setting. After retirement, a lot of these old machines just stick around or are sold when the older generation parts company. Our former '55 Oldsmobile had a similar Chicago background.

The interior was fairly sparse by today's standards, but nicely appointed for 1940. Hudson claimed their 55-inch seats were made with Airfoam cushions of divan style quality. Well alright, then.

The original radio was still in the dash and most of the trim and instruments appeared to be in good condition. Woodgraining was worn, but there. The column-shifted 3 speed may have had the optional overdrive, which would allow this car to run on the highway with a little more assurance.

The rear of the car had a '41 Mercury vibe to it, with a large trunk and taillight treatment molded into the fenders. Even for an upscale Hudson, you'll notice that trim is minimal throughout the car. That would definitely save on the chrome plating bill. The back of the car and passenger front fender have some rust but nothing terrible.

Overall, the Hudson's $4500 asking price is a bit rich, unless the car is mechanically perfect. The paint needs attention and its flaking off to bare metal in spots, signifying a poor repaint somewhere in its lifetime. Dad and I haven't seen one of these before, and its probably been preserved because of its obscurity. Everyone usually thinks of Hudsons as the round Commodore or "Driving Miss Daisy" car. The later models such as the Hornet and Wasp were known for having some NASCAR cred. This Hudson is a little bit more...frumpy. A relic of a Hudson that was struggling before WWII military contracts and sleek design saved them from shutting their doors.  But does this blue bomber deserve a good home nonetheless? Absolutely it does. Dad and I just have too many irons in the fire, so it couldn't go home with us. We did one final walk around the old horse and called it a day. Maybe some lucky family will put this one back on the road and enjoy its uniqueness in the coming months.

If anyone wants more information on the Hudson's whereabouts, drop me a line.


Popular Posts