1953-1954 Hudson Jet

Hudson Jet's Beginnings

To explain its spectacular failure, it is necessary to go back to the Hudson Jet's beginnings. The Jet was engineered by Millard Toncray and, as with the big "Step-down" Hudsons, he built it like an armored car with an "all-welded, single-unit Monobilt body-and-frame [with] 5,000 permanent welds."

Hudson urged prospects to
Hudson urged prospects to
"SEE the economy!" of the 1953 Jet.

It weighed 2,700 pounds, 400-500 pounds less than a Ford or Chevrolet, but about 200-300 pounds more than its compact rivals, the Aero-Willys, Rambler, and Henry J. Happily, the weight was overcome by a strong powerplant with enough speed options to fend off any of those competitors.

Hudson called the Jet's engine "a scaled down H-145" Hornet six -- which it definitely was not. With a 3.00-inch bore and 4.75-inch stroke, its 202-cubic-inch six was clearly derived from the old Commodore Eight, which had been discontinued for 1953. Hudson simply used the existing Commodore engine tooling, subtracted two cylinders, and created the long-stroke Jet Six.

This wasn't as odd as it sounds. The small bore allowed higher compression than could be achieved by a squarer bore/stroke ratio. John Bond figured that 7.0:1 was the limit for a "square" L-head without sacrificing volumetric efficiency. The Jet had 7.5:1, and 8.0:1 was optional.

"The piston speed factor [of a long-stroke engine] can be alleviated by good design and becomes negligible when used with an overdrive or a Dual-Range Hydra-Matic," Bond wrote. "During tests we found that valve-bounce occurred at an indicated 63 mph in second gear, 5,500 rpm. ... We approached these speeds at least 75 times and the little stroker was still running as smoothly and as quietly at the end as at the beginning."

"This extremely high-compression ratio gives you unequaled efficiency and maximum economy," said the brochure. "The engine in the Hudson Jet employs the same principles of design -- the same-type oversize bearings and rugged construction -- as the famous H-145 engine in the fabulous Hudson Hornet. It's so smooth, so quietly efficient that a vibration damper is not actually needed, though the best type is provided. ... Hudson's exclusive high-chrome-alloy cylinder block is the toughest in the industry. It machines to a mirror-like finish and outwears ordinary blocks by thousands of miles. This extra-tough cylinder block keeps your engine running like new longer and cuts oil consumption to an absolute minimum."

The Jet offered an array of engines and drivetrains much broader than its competitors, which relied on low-suds fours or sixes with no pretense of performance. It was the only compact besides Rambler with a Hydra-Matic option ($176). Overdrive cost $102. The standard single-carb engine had 104 bhp. Options included a high-compression aluminum head, which delivered 106 bhp, and Twin H-Power, which gave 112. The two options combined developed 114 horses.

For more on the Hudson Jet's mechanics, continue on to the next page.

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