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Thread: Hudson Hornet (2nd gen) 1955-1957

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    Hudson Hornet (2nd gen) 1955-1957

    Hudson Hornet is a full-sized automobile that was manufactured by Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan from 1951 until 1954, when Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson merged to form American Motors Corporation (AMC). Hudson automobiles continued to be marketed under the Hudson brand name through the 1957 model year.

    The first-generation Hudson Hornets featured a functional "step-down" design with dropped floorpan and a chassis with a lower center of gravity than contemporary vehicles that helped the car handle well a bonus for racing. The Hornet's lower and sleeker look was accentuated by streamlined styling, sometimes called "ponton" styling. Hornet owner Spencer Blake, writing for Popular Mechanics in 1999, notes that "the car's unique, low slung appearance and silky handling earned Hudson an image that for many buyers eclipsed luxury marques like Cadillac."

    In order for American Motors to build Hudson cars on the newer factory assembly line for Nash Statesman/Ambassador unibody chassis, all second-generation Hudson Hornets became restyled Nash automobiles that were badge engineered as a Hudson.

    Second generation
    In its final three model years, the Hornet became a product of the newly-formed American Motors Corporation (AMC). Following the 1954 merger of the Hudson Motor Car Company and Nash-Kelvinator, Hudson's Detroit manufacturing facility was closed and production of Hudson models was shifted to Nash's Wisconsin factory. No longer built on the "Step-down" platform, all Hudsons were now based on the senior Nash models, but featuring distinctive Hudson styling themes.

    The new models were delayed to a January 1955 introduction, "as American Motors engineers work out the problem of making two completely different looking automobiles with identical body shells."

    The first entirely new car from American Motors, the 1955 Hudson emerged as a conservatively styled car compared to the competition. The 1955 Hornet was the cleanest model with a broad eggcrate grille and distinctive two-toning.[18] Sedan and hardtop body styles were offered, but the coupe and convertible were no longer available.

    The 308 cu in (5.0 L) straight-six engine continued in 160 bhp (119 kW) or 170 bhp (127 kW) versions. For the first time ever, the Hornet could be ordered with a Packard-built 320 cu in (5.2 L) V8 engine producing 208 bhp (155 kW) and Packard's Ultramatic automatic transmission. The rear suspension now incorporated a torque tube system for the driveshaft and coil spring rear suspension along with front springs that are twice as long as most other cars.

    Along with Nash, the new Hudsons had the widest front seats in the industry. The Weather Eye heating and ventilation with an optional air conditioning system were highly rated in terms of efficiency. The integrated placement of major air conditioning systems under the hood and the price of only $395 (about half the cost as on other cars) also won praise. Automotive journalist Floyd Clymer rated the Hudson Hornet as the safest car built in the United States because of the single unit welded body, high quality braking system with added mechanical backup system, roadability, general handling, and maneuverability; as well as excellent acceleration and power for emergency situations.

    Production for the 1955 model year totaled 10,010 four-door sedans and 3,324 Hollywood two-door hardtops.

    For the 1956 model year, AMC executives decided to give the Hornet more character and the design for the vehicles was given over to designer Richard Arbib, who provided the Hornet and Wasp with one of the more distinctive looks in the 1950s which he called "V-Line Styling". Taking the traditional Hudson tri-angle, Arbib applied its "V" form in every conceivable manner across the interior and exterior of the car. Combined with tri-tone paint combinations, the Hudson's look was unique and immediately noticeable.

    The legendary 308 cu in (5.0 L) straight-six engine, with and without Twin-H Power, was offered and gained 5 hp (4 kW) for 1956. However, Packard's V8 engine was available only during the first half of 1956. At mid-model year Hornet Special was introduced featuring a lower price and AMC's new 250 cu in (4.1 L) 190 hp (142 kW) V8 engine.[18] The Hornet Special models were built on a 7-inch (178 mm) shorter and slightly lighter Statesman/Wasp four-door sedan and two-door hardtop platform with Hornet trim.

    The 1956 design failed to excite buyers and Hudson Hornet sales decreased to 8,152 units, of which 6,512 were four-door sedans and 1,640 Hollywood two-door hardtops.

    In 1957, the historic Hudson name came only in a Hornet version in "Super" and "Custom" series, and available as a four-door sedan or a two-door "Hollywood" hardtop. For the second year the V-Line styling featured an enormous egg-crate grille, creases and chrome strips on the sides, and five tri-tone schemes for the Custom models. There was more ornamentation to the cars, including fender "finettes" atop the rounded rear quarter panels for 1957, as well as very unusual twin-fin trim on top of both front fenders.

    The price was reduced and the power was increased by way of AMC's new 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8 that was rated at 255 hp (190 kW) with a four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts.
    Prompted by Automobile Manufacturer Association ban on factory supported racing beginning some time in 1957, production of Hudson Hornet ended on June 25, 1957 with only 4,108 units made, at which time the Hudson brand name with its racing heritage was discontinued and all American Motors Corporation automobiles were then marketed as being made by "Rambler" Division.

    Source: Wikipedia

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