Estate Find: 1952 Hudson Hornet Convertible

Hudson was on a long slow production slide for years well before WWII began, losing the competition for buyers to Ford and FM. But it still achieved a few moments of glory in the early 1950s when the Hornet was introduced. By now Hudson’s “step down” unibody bathtub styling was familiar to buyers, and while the advent of the Hornet did not arrest the sales slide, it was able to generate success at the track. NASCAR celebrities including Marshall Teague, Herb Thomas, Dick Rathman, and others raced Fabulous Hudson Hornets to wins – enough that Hudson is still tied for third with Oldsmobile and Toyota for most wins in NASCAR manufacturers’ championships. Among Hornets, the very rarest model is the Brougham Convertible. Only 500 were made in 1951, declining to less than 100 in 1954 – the end of the run for Hudson as a stand-alone company. Here on liveauctioneers is a 1952 Hudson Hornet convertible estate find, bid to $7,500. The estimate is $15,000 to $25,000 for this car; note that buyer’s premium is a hefty 23%. It is located in Kingston, New York, still in the garage where it was found. We have David Brown to thank for this tip!

The engine is the high-compression Twin-H Power 308 cu. in. in-line six-cylinder – the largest displacement six offered by any maker at the time. With its dual single-barrel Carter carburetors, the motor could produce 170 bhp, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Special heads and other equipment could increase that to 210 bhp. The seller indicates this Hornet was last registered in 1989. There is no key, but a locksmith (like mine!) can probably fix that problem. I am seeing Hydra-Matic transmissions in 1952 Hornets, but I know Barn Finders have said other transmissions were offered.

The interior shows wear commensurate with regular use and a thirty-year nap. The seller indicates that the top bows do move. We are also told the body is “solid”, as per the tow truck driver who also saw the car. Thanks to the “step down” construction, Hornets are plenty wide enough to seat three adults across, provided none of you has been visiting McDonald’s too often.

The convertible was made by amputating the top of a Club Coupe and reinforcing the body with over 200 lbs of extra steel underneath. To further stiffen the body, about nine inches of metal was retained above the windshield. The car came in several colors with contrasting interiors, so if you do restore this one, there’s a wide palette to choose from. And now it’s time to talk price. Here is a report on a single VIN that’s made the auction rounds for a number of years, showing a clear decline in prices; and here is another for sale now, all ready to go, priced at $60,000. Since this estate find has no documentation and needs a complete restoration to match the quality of these other examples, I’m going to say take the current bid and call it good. What do you think?


  1. Will Fox

    A guaranteed collectible well worth the cost of doing a frame-off. Not many built, and scarcely few remain today. These are nearly $100K in top shape. And to be this complete and rust free is an amazing find! This is probably already sold. If not, it soon will be.

    Like 7
    • Guy Caldwell Member

      Is an auction so should be there until auction time.
      May have some room to go above $7500 current bid, as it looks pretty complete. No discussion of how they intend to transfer title in the listing.

      Like 2
  2. Bob McK Member

    Careful, Buyer’s premium is 23%

    Like 5
    • jmolsn Member

      23%. Wow!! Even Barrett Jackson doesn’t charge that high!!

      Like 7
  3. Dave

    Jack Nicholson’s car in “The Two Jakes”

    Like 2
  4. Jakespeed

    All of the Big 6, Twin-H Power cars I saw had 2 x 2-barrel carburetors similar to the Stromberg WW series. Does that just apply to Power Pack equipped cars?

    Like 3
    • Don Crane

      All Hudson Twin H cars came with a pair of Carter single barrel carbs, either 968s or 2113s. Edmunds made an aftermarket intake that could accommodate two 2 barrel carbs.

      Like 2
  5. TheOldRanger

    I sure remember this car, I was 10 when it hit the streets. As the car came towards me, I thought it was a nice looking vehicle. After it passed, and I looked at the back, I thought “uggglllly”.

  6. Tom Kitchen

    Has the taillights and trim of a ’53? Title year?

    • Don Crane

      It is 100% a 1952. 53 does not have the triangle in the grill, and 53 Also has a fake scoop on the hood instead of the triangle. Also, that is a 1952 only interior. The tail lights and side trim are exactly the same on 1952 and 1953.

      Like 4
  7. Terry

    24%, I’d never buy anything from those thieves. To bad they didn’t try to sell it themselves first.

    Like 5
  8. Guy Caldwell Member

    3% or more is taken by Liveauctioneers. You can try absentee directly with the auction house and save some percentage but they apparently do not have a live bidding option beside

    Unfortunately most if these auction houses that only occasionally do cars do not have a separate buyer’s premium for cars and use their standard that they use for all the pots, pans, and couches they have to sell also.

    Like 3
  9. Lance

    Actually there were 630 Hudson convertibles made in 1952. 360 of them were Hornets. The base prioce was $3318 a copy. As for the coupoe body manufacture, they were made as a dedicated body. There was no hacking up a coupe for this construction. Don’t know how that got started but it’s just not true. I have seen some that someone fabbed but they were ‘tribute’ cars. Not factory. Price so far is quite low. If the top bows are all there at $7500 this car is a steal.

    Like 4
  10. paterson guy

    Always loved these; kind of made me think of a gangster or cop car. This is a beauty and would love to own it. As a 5 year old these and Packards were my favorites.

    Like 2
  11. Darrell

    $7500 plus 24% = $9300.00 Don’t know if the motor’s stuck or did the tranny start slipping ….. why was it was parked in the barn for 32 years

  12. Darrell

    $7500 plus 24% = $9300.00 Don’t know if the motor’s stuck or did the tranny start slipping ….. why was it was parked in the barn for 32 years

  13. Robert White

    Smitten again, BF.


    Like 1
  14. Kevin

    Since the esrly 70’s I was considered an outcast. While others drooled over muscle cars it was love at first sight with the hudson hornet. I had the opportunity to drive one in 1972. Amazing. Those lines. And power? Think runaway freight train. Values down? Kids i need you to remember one thing only as you journey through life. The majority is always wrong.

    Like 3
  15. Guy Caldwell Member

    Oh my. A Twin H Power Brougham. Notice the leather seats. Trim is a little beat up and the Twin H Power badge is missing on the trunk. Right rear taillight is broken.
    They may bring $90,000 + fully restored, but one is looking at spending at least that by the time you do the paint, chrome, interior, and hope the engine still turns over.

    Like 1
  16. Rick

    A 23% buyer premium is outrageous. It’ll keep me from bidding.

  17. Doug Wildrick

    Darrell, it has an aluminum head, and appears it has been leaking,… The odds are the motor is probably stuck

    Like 1
    • Darrell

      Fuel tank, brake lines, carburetors rebuilt, the list goes on & on

  18. George Birth

    Good advice, especially with such a steep buyers premium.

  19. Tony

    Nice find! In Manhattan, KS, there is a ’51 Hudson, also a Convertible Brougham, with exactly the same drive train as this ’52: 308 6-banger with Twin-H intake and a Hydramatic. In fact, it looks almost identical to the ’52, save for its color and condition (it’s on display at the Midwest Dream Car Collection museum). Nice to see that another kindred has been found considering the few that were made, and in surprisingly good shape!

    Funny how, in that year, despite the price war Ford and GM waged that caught the smaller independents in the crossfire, Hudson still made a profit of $8 million with only 70,000 cars…then lost $10 million the very next year on almost the same volume. Some may attribute the loss of GM’s Hydramatic plant to a fire in ’53 as a contributor, but the real reason was Hudson’s new car, the Jet. Despite that, it might be nice to see a salvaged Jet.

  20. Guy Caldwell Member

    Sold for $18,000 plus buyers premium.

    Like 1

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