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Throwback City: The Hudson Motor Car Company

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On: Sat, Oct 18, 2014 at 12:57PM | By: Gary P Garry

Throwback City: The Hudson Motor Car Company

Time can wash away memories. Sometimes, this is a very good thing, but at other times, history can be lost. Classic car collectors preserve history, and this is certainly a worthy endeavor. One classic that should be remembered is the Hudson, a brand that was around for over four decades.

When you think about Detroit automakers you are invariably going to conjure images of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. These companies comprise the "Big Three," but they were not the only companies that made a mark in the Motor City over the years.

The Hudson Motor Car Company was founded in Detroit in 1909, and it was eponymously named after its founder, Joseph Hudson. Hudson made a lot of money in the department store business, and he contributed a great deal of funding to the enterprise, so his name became the name behind the brand. In all, eight different investors were involved in the creation of the company.

Since the automotive industry was just starting to take hold at that time, you have to give Hudson a lot of credit for his foresight and timing. It was a good place to put your money at that exact moment in history.

Joseph Hudson wasn't really a "car guy," so Roy D. Chapin directed a lot of the day-to-day operations. He had cut his teeth in the automotive industry working alongside Oldsmobile founder Ransom Olds.

In the earliest days of the automotive business in the United States, cars were put together by hand, so they were labor-intensive and expensive. They were only available to affluent individuals. However, visionaries saw potential, and the people at Hudson wanted to produce a car that was affordable for the working person. That vision coalesced into reality in the form of the Hudson 20.

The car was introduced for the 1909 model year, and it was a successful debut that put the Hudson Motor Car Company on the map. Over 4000 units were sold during that initial model year, and that set a record for first-year sales. By 1911 sales eclipsed the 6000 mark, and the company had found its footing.

Hudson was a major player up until the time of World War II. Commercial auto manufacturing was halted during the war, but production resumed in 1946. In 1954 there was a merger between Hudson and the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. The company produced cars up until 1957, but that was the end of the line. Nash and Hudson became American Motors, and the Rambler was the company's focal point.

The Hudson Motor Car Company held its own for decades, and you can visit Hostetler's Hudson Museum in Shipshewana, Indiana if you would like to see a fantastic collection of Hudson classics up close and personal.


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