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1954 Hudson Italia

Legacy of the 1954 Hudson Italia

The legacy of the 1954 Hudson Italia is mixed. Whatever its merits -- and they were considerable -- the 1954 Hudson Italia was doomed from the start. Interestingly enough, though, Special-Interest Autos, in its November/December 1971 issue, quoted Stuart Baits as saying that the Italia was not a money loser.

"As I remember," he commented, "we about broke even on them -- I think [the Italia] about paid for itself on the whole deal."

1954 hudson italia aluminum
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The Italia's aluminum body was handbuilt by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, Italy.

No matter, in June 1953 Hudson president A.E. Barit opened negotiations with George W. Mason, his counterpart at Nash-Kelvinator, and on May 1, 1954, a consolidation of the two firms was announced, with the combined firm taking the name American Motors.

Commencing that fall, production of both marques was concentrated in the Nash plant at Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Jet was summarily dropped, replaced in Hudson showrooms by a Rambler wearing Hudson badges.

Meanwhile, though Hudson's L-head sixes were temporarily retained, the larger Wasps and Hornets for 1955 were really Nashes dolled up with a few Hudson styling cues.

Ironically, it wasn't until the October 1954 issue that Motor Trend could announce that the "Hudson Italia Goes Into Production." By then, the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Thunderbird, and Kaiser-Darrin were also reality, which perhaps prompted MT to say that "Nothing pleases us more than being able to announce a new addition to Detroit's production sports car stable."

MT also commented that even just a few months earlier "...the Kenosha whale had not yet shown the voracious appetite which has since almost swallowed Hudson whole. How the Italia survived to get into even limited production is a happy surprise."

But, in fact, it was a brand new ball game in Kenosha, and in the American Motors scheme of things there simply was no place for the innovative Hudson Italia. The only nameplate that would matter at AMC in the future would be Rambler.

Go on to the next page to learn about the 1954 Hudson Italia's specifications.

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