1950 Hudson Commodore

The 1950 Hudson Commodore was the beneficiary of Hudson's 1948 famed "Step-down" design. See more classic car pictures.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

At the beginning of the decade, the 1950 Hudson Commodore stood at the top of the Hudson lineup. It rode the longest wheelbase, boasted a big six or a smooth straight eight, received more luxurious trim than the concurrent Supers, and was by far the most popular of big Hudsons. Commodores outsold Supers by more than two to one, despite their rather higher prices.

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The range began with the Hudson Commodore Six club coupe at $2,257, and ended with the Hudson Commodore Eight Brougham (convertible) at $2,893. With accessories, options, and dealer prep, the typical Brougham cost about $3,300, roughly on par with that year's Buick Roadmaster. An estimated 1,100 of Hudson's 3,322 convertibles built in the 1950 model year were Commodores.

The 1950 Hudson Commodore's unit body-chassis ranked as one of the cleverest early postwar designs. Low and sleek, it hugged the ground and handled well, thanks to its radically low center of gravity. The design, which had begun as early as 1940, was directed by the brilliant Frank Spring, a fixture at Hudson and one of the most talented stylists of the 1940s.

The "Step-down" body evolved from wartime doodling -- sleek, aerodynamic forms modeled in quarter- and eighth-scale clay and plaster. As Bob Andrews, a member of Spring's team, commented later, "It was the Ivory Soap school of design: you'd take a bar of Ivory and start carving the fenders, hood and deck, and presto!"

Like all Hudsons since 1932, the unit body-chassis of the 1950 Hudson Commodore was extremely strong, rigid, and rattle-free. The nickname "Step-down" referred to the dropped floorpan, which was completely surrounded by frame girders. It was probably the safest automotive package of the time, perhaps any time.

Also, in its own way, the 1950 Hudson Commodore radiated its own understated beauty. The "fuselage" was clean, with a neat mid-height creaseline to eliminate any tendency toward slab sides. The grille sat low and wide; the taillights were functional rather than decorative. The dashboard was flat and positioned upright in front of the driver. It contained a big clock and speedometer (with 10-mph increments marked off in single digit numbers), warning lights for amperes and oil pressure, and gauges for fuel and water temperature.

To learn more about why the 1950 Hudson Commodore was one of the pinnacles of automotive design in the immediate post-war era, keep reading.

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