1945, 1946, 1947 Hudson

The 1945, 1946, and 1947 Hudson models marked the company's return to auto production after the end of World War II.

The 1946 Hudson lineup was little-changed from prewar models.
The 1946 Hudson lineup was little-changed
from prewar models.

The first postwar Hudson -- a Super Six; eight-cylinder production would be delayed until late in the model year -- left the line on August 30, 1945. These cars were little changed from their prewar "Symphonic" siblings.

Sheet metal alterations were nil, and the most noticeable appearance change was an indented grille, the work of designer Art Kibinger. On two-tone cars the combinations were reversed, with the darker color now on top, the chrome belt molding became the color divider, and the trunk was painted the same color as the roof. Interiors were limited to a single, different hue per series, however.

The 1946 Hudson passenger car line was simplified: There was now but one wheelbase of 121 inches, and four series -- two if you neglect the engine variations.

Super Sixes came as two- and four-door sedans, the former called a Brougham (a name earlier used by Hudson to describe premium four-door cars), a three-passenger coupe, a club coupe, and a Convertible Brougham (how could one company get so much mileage out of the name "Brougham"?). The Commodore Six and the Super Eight each came in a four-door sedan and a club coupe; the Commodore Eight had these two styles plus a convertible.

The commercial line was further reined in, with only three-quarter ton pickups being built after the war, some 3,000 a year in 1946 and 1947. These were the only 128-inch wheelbase Hudsons cataloged. A few station wagons were assembled for use at the factory to make deliveries, transport personnel, and bus the company ball team, but the model was absent from the catalog.

Prices started at $1,481 for the three-passenger Super Six coupe, a factor not solely due to postwar inflation. Hudson now was well out of Ford and Chevrolet territory; in 1946 that kind of money in a coupe would fetch a Mercury or six-cylinder Oldsmobile.

Mechanically, the 1946 Hudsons owed practically everything to the 1942s. The demise of the entry-level Six series took with it the 92-horse 175-cid engine, but the large six and the eight continued in their prewar guises. The same range of transmissions also was offered.

If the 1946 makeover had been modest, 1947's was almost trivial. One needed to be really sharp-eyed to tell the 1947s from their predecessors. The medallion on the hood was given a flared housing, a new emblem was added to the trunk lid, and the front bumper guards were spaced further apart.

Models and body styles were exactly the same as those of the previous year, but prices rose some seven to 12 percent, depending on the model. Inflation was in high gear.

The seller's market meant that anyone who could build cars could sell them, which partly explains Hudson's abandonment of the low-priced field. Building cars was easier said than done, of course, for to build cars one needed both materials and labor. Neither was free nor assured, but Hudson did quite well, delivering 91,626 1946 cars and 92,083 in 1947. These numbers exclude commercials, whose production, as noted, was fairly minuscule.

The 1946 Hudson lineup was little-changed from prewar models.
The 1947 Hudson was the last of the Symphonic era.

All automakers had trotted out holdover or transitional models after the war while the design and engineering teams finished the wholly new designs that had been barely started during the conflict. Interestingly the independent automakers beat the "Big Three" to market with new models, in some cases by several years.

Studebaker was first to jump the gun, with Loewy-designed streamlined cars for their 1947 lineup. Packard's turn came in 1948, though their "Pregnant Elephant" line might have made some wish it hadn't.

Hudson, too, had been working on new concepts during the war. Art Kibinger had designed and modeled a two-passenger "Sportster" in 1942, and this led to some larger, perimeter-framed concepts in the next few years. After two years of more or less normal automotive operation, Hudson's new design was ready.

On December 7, 1947, the "Symphonic" Hudsons gave way to the all-new "Step-down" models at nationwide public showings, and Hudson Motor Car Company headed into a new era of fame and fortune -- for a while.

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