By 1954, Hudson was in deep trouble, so a lot of changes were made to the 1954 Hudson Hornet Brougham. In the past, the "Step-down" Hudson Hornet Brougham had been a marvel when it debuted in 1948. However, Hudson's straight-eight engine was way outclassed by newer Big Three V-8s, and although Hudson's six-cylinder Hornet dominated stock-car racing in the early '50s, it was still just a six. Worse, Hudson's unitized "Monobilt" design was costly and difficult to change, and its "torpedo" styling dated quickly.

1954 hudson hornet brougham
The 1954 Hudson Hornet Brougham updated its looks from previous
"torpedo" styling. See more pictures of classic convertibles.

Hoping for salvation, Hudson gave the '54 Step-downs a square-lined makeover. There was still no V-8, but the 308-cubic-inch six in top-line Hornets again delivered 160 healthy horses, 170 with optional racing-inspired "Twin-H-Power" carburetors. Interiors were spruced up too. The Hornet Brougham convertible, still Hudson's only ragtop, was particularly attractive in this new finery, but at $3288 it was overpriced for a six-cylinder car in 1954. So were other Step-downs. As a result, sales skidded again, dropping to 36,436 for the model year. Of these, an estimated 3857 were ragtops.

1954 hudson hornet brougham
The 1954 Hudson Hornet Brougham was the only ragtop convertible
made by Hudson.

Compounding these woes was the 1953-54 Jet, an ill-advised compact that cost a bundle and didn't sell. With all this, Hudson had little choice but to join with Nash in 1954 to form American Motors. Three years later, Hudson was gone, a victim of too little change for fast-changing times.

1954 hudson hornet brougham
The 1954 Hudson Hornet Brougham's six-cylinder engine was outdone by
Big Three V-8s.

For more classic convertibles of the 1950s, see:

1950 Oldsmobile 88

1955 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Lincoln Premiere

1951 Chrysler New Yorker

1955 Mercury Montclair

1957 Oldsmobile Super 88

1951 Lincoln Cosmopolitan

1956 Ford Thunderbird

1958 Continental Mark III

1951 Rambler Custom Landau

1956 Lincoln Premiere

1958 Edsel Citation

1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta

1956 Packard Caribbean

1959 Cadillac Series 62

1954 Packard Caribbean

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1959 Dodge Custom Royal

1955 Buick Century

1957 Chrysler New Yorker

1959 Ford Thunderbird

1955 Cadillac Series 62

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner

1959 Pontiac Bonneville

For more information on all kinds of cars, try these: