Rare Rides: A Hudson Commodore Brougham From 1950, Complete With Celebrity Ownership
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.
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In olden days they put the wing on the windshield. Bet they had to tighten its mounting screws pretty frequently on a highway car.
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