By on March 7, 2019

Today’s Rare Ride hails from a time when American cars were glamorous — and often painted pink and bright green. It was a time when Brougham meant real luxury, and not just a vinyl roof accompanied by the faint glow of an opera lamp. Even with a tame white and brown color scheme, today’s convertible is big and bold, with the added panache of a prior celebrity owner.

Presenting the Hudson Commodore Brougham, from 1950.

Hudson was a Detroit-based automaker that got into the car business in 1909. Starting out with value, the company emphasized bringing economical, low-cost cars to market. Eventually, Hudson out into larger and more luxurious product offerings, topping its lineup with the Commodore in 1941.

The first generation was offered in coupe, convertible, and sedan guises and in two different wheelbase lengths. The Custom model line featured a wheelbase that was seven inches longer than the standard version (for extra luxury). Hudson hired a woman to work on the interior and exterior styling of the Commodore — a first for any car manufacturing firm. Progressive! The first generation was not long for the showrooms, as production ceased in 1942 after the nation entered World War II.

Postwar production started up again in 1945, and a revamped Commodore based upon the old one debuted for the 1946 model year. A pickup truck joined the range in what was likely a first-of moment. Yes, in 1946 an American manufacturer offered a well-equipped pickup truck based on a luxury sedan. Truck buyers of the day were consistently practical, however, and didn’t really buy into a car-based pickup. But that didn’t stop Hudson from offering its truck. The second generation Commodore was not around for long either, as Hudson was working on new designs to bring offerings up to modern expectations.

For 1948, the third and final Commodore arrived. Still the company’s flagship, it was the first all-new postwar design to come from the Hudson factory. Designed with a unibody and a perimeter frame, the cars rode lower than offerings from other manufacturers. The design was known as “step-down,” as passengers descended slightly when they got into the car. This construction improved safety in crashes and bolstered performance. Coupes, sedans, and a convertible were on offer in this generation. Power was provided via inline-six or eight cylinder engines. The Custom line was reintroduced in 1949, and in 1950 the Custom convertible joined the lineup.

1952 was the final year for the Commodore, as trims were rebranded as Six or Eight, depending on the engine under the hood. By this time, competitors in the luxury segment had moved on to more modern styling, and the Commodore was looking dated. Instead of a redesign, the company cancelled its flagship, focusing instead on smaller cars like the Hornet and Wasp. The end was nigh though, as Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator in 1954 to form a brand new entity: American Motors Corporation.

Today’s Rare Ride is a 1950 Brougham convertible, which was previously owned by actor Steve McQueen. The accompanying photos include a registration card for McQueen’s ownership in 1979, as well as an L.A. address that is now home to a gaudy modern apartment building. McQueen replaced the factory engine with the 5.0-liter Twin H-Power Hudson inline-six, which was the largest displacement engine of that type in the world at the time. With just over 22,000 miles, this classic Commodore asks $149,900.

[Images: seller]

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27 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Hudson Commodore Brougham From 1950, Complete With Celebrity Ownership...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That’s a great find, really beautiful, even without the celebrity connection.

    And thanks for the brief history lesson, since I didn’t know much about Hudson.

  • avatar

    Some years ago (1990’s) I was in the West side of L.A. on National Blvd. when a similar Hudson drop top pulled up nexet to me at a stoplight ~ it was green and the doors were partially cut away in a curvy shape, very unique looking .

    As it pulled away I saw the Colorado license plate was a vanity tag reading ” UNEEK 1″ .

    I wonder what happened to that unrestored car .


  • avatar

    Nice choice on the revamped engine.

    I’d still love a Hudson Hornet with the Twin H Power engine and factory hot rod parts.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    A great looking automobile. And provenance connecting it to the ‘King of Cool’.

    Give me a lottery win and I would start the bidding.

  • avatar

    Seems like anything with Steve McQueen’s name on it sells for more. If he’d signed the Mustang from “Bullitt,” God only knows what that would sell for.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t have anything against Steve McQueen the man. We shared some interests and he had the good taste to buy an XK-SS. There is something profoundly creepy about the fellows who populate his personality cult today though. I wonder how many of them go around sniffing his personal effects only to discover what the results of chain smoking are on fabrics.

    • 0 avatar

      “Seems like anything with Steve McQueen’s name on it sells for more. ”

      Yeah, you’d think he was someone famous like John Voight

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    You wouldn’t think of McQueen as being a fan of this since he’s associated with sports cars.
    The “step-down,” design as what evolved into the “lower, leaner. wider!” Now everyone wants “I need to sit up high with a command of the road”.

    • 0 avatar

      Spot on! I volunteer at a car museum and was just talking about that with some guest as we have a similar vintage Hudson in the same room as some contemporary and later convertibles as well.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        When I was young I noticed the difference in seat and ride height between my folks 54 Chevrolet Bel Aire which by today’s standard is like a CUV and their 62 Bel Aire when automobile design became low and lean best exemplified by Pontiac “wide track”.

    • 0 avatar
      Stanley Steamer

      And yet there’s nothing like a cheap Model T to get that “sit up high with a command of the road” feeling in.

    • 0 avatar

      Well he loved his ole pickup truck, too, so there’s that. This Hudson is near me, if anyone wishes to buy it and keep it in my garage for a year or so :)

  • avatar

    The convertible is sweet, but nothing says cool like a 50′ Hudson Coupe!

    • 0 avatar

      I’m surprised, CaddyDaddy, to me nothing says “cool” like this ’49 Cadillac Club Coupe

  • avatar

    Fabulous Hudson Hornet! King of NASCAR! The Commodore Eights were luxurious cruisers but the Hornet with the Twin-H Power six were the racers. I well remember them from my younger days.

  • avatar

    I’m a low information voter who *adores* that low information dashboard.

  • avatar

    As a member of the TTAC Luddites(TM), I must reject this vehicle, with its newfangled unibody design.

  • avatar

    Never been a Hudson fan, too bulbous, but I am a fan of any car of this era in such remarkable condition

    • 0 avatar
      Nigel Shiftright

      Personally, I -love- the zeppelin styled vehicles of the streamline moderne era, and since I’ll never own a Dymaxion or a Stout Scarab, a four door stepdown Hudson is the next best thing.

      Fortunately the sedans (unlike the coupes or ragtops) are still affordable, with nice driveable examples in the teens and twenties. After I retire next year I plan to start looking.

  • avatar

    In olden days they put the wing on the windshield. Bet they had to tighten its mounting screws pretty frequently on a highway car.

  • avatar

    Many of the cars with those giant sun screens had a small prism mounted on the top of the dashboard to let the driver see traffic lights when stopped at intersections.

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