1953 Hudson Hornet Sedan.jpg

Hudson ‘step-down’

The lesser know American design innovator

The 1948 Hudson is arguably a more significant design than all of the be-finned classics from the ‘big-three’ that dominate today’s collective image of post-war American car design. It pioneered a ‘step-down’ design where occupants literally stepped-down into a cabin with a floor mounted on the under-side of chassis members — instead of on the top as they always had been — to make for a lower seating position, and thus a far lower overall proportion than any other car of the time. This technical design configuration was quickly emulated by Chrysler, GM, and Ford, although none of their designs ever had such a shallow glass-house to body-side proportion of the Hudson, which today looks almost like it been chopped. 

Voluminous form and split windscreen aside, the Hudson is far more modern than its 1940s contemporaries with its low and dynamic proportion. Although a very simple design, its unique low and long fastback profile oozes a confident and relaxed demeanour too — attitudinally it is the chaise-longe of cars…  

Like many of the innovative car brands in Europe from the same period, Hudson didn’t last long as it lacked the necessary economies of scale to compete. And, with others adopting its low-proportions and then adding extrovert fins and more chrome to make them far more expressive and memorable designs, the Hudson ‘step-down’ design is now less known than it should be given that it was a true American design innovator, as well as one of the most handsome of post-war American cars.