1942 Hudson

The 1942 Hudson models bowed on September 1, 1941. Basically updated 1941s, they featured a more delicate five-louver grille and reshaped fenders, the rears having much smaller wheel openings.

This 1942 Hudson Commodore Custom Eight featured plenty of brightwork.
This 1942 Hudson Commodore Custom Eight
featured plenty of brightwork.

The new Hudsons had much more brightwork than their predecessors, with all series adding lower body trim and hash marks on each fender. Running boards were hidden under flared extension panels attached to the bottom of the doors and bodysides. The lower trim hid the resulting joint line.

Model offerings were nearly the same as those of 1941. The Traveler name was dropped; the entry-level cars simply were called "Six." There was no Commodore Eight wagon, and the top-of-the-line Commodores -- the Custom Eights -- were reduced to a three-passenger coupe, a club coupe, and an eight-passenger sedan. The latter was the lone passenger car offering on the 128-inch wheelbase. Commercial cars were severely curtailed. Model series numbers jumped from the teens to the twenties, but maintained their relative positions.

Engine choices were the same as in 1941, but there was important news in the transmission department.

Since General Motors' Hydra-Matic transmission had been a success when introduced on the 1940 Oldsmobile and 1941 Cadillac, pressure was on all automakers to come up with some sort of automatic or assisted shifting. Chrysler banked on Fluid Drive, and Ford squandered precious resources on the calamitous Liquamatic transmission for 1942 Lincolns and Mercurys. Hudson's attempt in the shiftless market was Drive-Master, which combined the Vacumotive clutch with a servo-operated transmission.

With Drive-Master engaged, the driver needed only to select the high gear position and step on the gas. The car would accelerate to 25 mph (actually in second gear), at which point releasing the accelerator would effect a shift to high. Unlike other shifters, though, Hudson's had three modes: Drive-Master, Vacumotive, and Off. Thus, one could have "automatic" shifting and clutching, automated clutching only, or fully manual gear selection.

Most of the 1942 Hudsons were produced before the government ordered brightwork to be covered.
Most of the 1942 Hudsons were produced before
the government ordered brightwork to be covered.

Only one radio was offered in 1942, because, as Hudson said, it was "so amazingly advanced we don't think you'd be satisfied with anything else." Along with automatic volume control it featured a floor-mounted push button to make station changing easy for the driver.

In the wake of America's entry into World War II in December 1941, the government decreed that, beginning January 1, 1942, automobile brightwork was to be limited to bumpers and bumper guards. Other trim could remain, but had to be painted or covered over.

Hudsons had a lot of chrome to cover, but, the bulk of the 40,661 model year production run having already occurred, not many were so modified. "Blackout" Hudsons are rare today; just 5,463 vehicles (including 67 commercials) left the assembly line in the calendar year before production ceased on February 5.

Although prices and production had been controlled by the War Production Board since mid-1941, increases due to changes in materials were allowed -- and there were plenty of changes dictated by war requirements. Hudson's 1942 prices rose nearly 20 percent over 1941, ranging from $828 to $1,451 at introduction, but still in the Ford to Oldsmobile range.

Hudson plants were hardly idle during the war. The company had contracts for Oerhkon anti-aircraft guns, aircraft parts, and the Invader barge engine, an ohv six-cylinder Hall-Scott design of some 998 cubic inches and 264 horsepower.

While these war efforts did turn a profit for Hudson, it was not a windfall; some $4 million over three years on contracts worth over $400 million. Still, this gave the company a jump start in the pocketbook when it came time to resume auto manufacture as government proscriptions were lifted.

Continue to the next page to learn about Hudson's post-war automotive offerings.

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