Italian from Detroit: 1953 Hudson Italia Prototype

italian-from-detroit-1953-hudson-italia-prototype

We don’t normally feature cars that have been photographed in a studio, but when we stumbled across this 1953 Hudson Italia on eBay, we knew we had to feature it. This breath-taking car is the actual prototype that resulted from a joint venture between Hudson and Carrozzeria Touring of Italy. Hudson’s styling director Frank Spring was the mastermind of the Italia and out of fear of seeing his beloved prototype destroyed, hid the car shortly after Hudson was bought by Nash. It has seen one respray, but is otherwise original.

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During the 1950’s, American auto manufactures were in a battle to produce the most futuristic and over the top prototypes they could. They were also highly involved in racing, which got potential customers into the doors of dealerships. Being a much smaller company then the big three it competed with, Hudson didn’t have the means to fund a racing team and creating prototypes was costly and time consuming. That being said, Mr. Spring knew that Hudson needed a sportier and flashier car to win over much needed customers, so he set about designing the Italia prototype and then convinced executives to give him the funds and resources he needed to build his dream. It was based on the Jet platform, but the tubular chassis, superleggera aluminum body, and interior were custom made by Touring. The cost of building the Italia meant that only 26 were ever built.

italian-from-detroit-1953-hudson-italia-prototype-interior

Looking at the exterior of this car, it looks like a highly restored trailer queen, but the interior says otherwise. This elegant and sporty interior is showing all its original materials and plenty of wear. The leather seats feature varying density bolsters for added comfort and support, the carpets are made of deep pile wool, the steering wheel is from the Alfa Romeo parts bin, and the gauges and radio are from the Jet. While most prototypes look great, few are built to the high standards that this one was. Mr. Spring was highly involved in its construction, which could help explain the build quality. It’s no wonder he hid the car, we wouldn’t want to see it destroyed either.

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While much of the car was built by Touring, the engine is straight from Hudson’s Jet. This 202 cui straight six is the original unit sent to Italy and has never been taken apart. It is a little on the weak side for a sports car, with only 114 horsepower. The lightweight construction and 3-speed with overdrive help performance some and allow a top speed of 95 mph.

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We are glad this amazing car was saved, but sadly we will never be able to afford it. Let’s just hope the next owner doesn’t hide it from the world. Of the 26 built, five are still unaccounted for and are presumed to be in Europe. Who knows, one of these lost cars could have made it into a barn in your own town. We will be sure to keep our eyes open!

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Comments

  1. twwokc

    Beautiful cars. Too bad they only built 26 of them.
    Frank Spring was a genius. Sadly he was killed in 1959 on the Turner Turnpike in Oklahoma.

  2. Corky

    Funny, this looks a lot like my friend Hudson Italia. I guess they are saying 1 of 1 because it is the prototype for the limited production run.

    • Josh Staff

      The prototype and the production cars were almost identical, there were a few pieces of trim that were different. No one will ever know what Frank Spring’s plans were, but if I had to guess I’d say that he planned on seeing the Italia make it to production before the prototype was ever built. I’m sure he knew if the car couldn’t go straight into production, it would never see the light of day. He personally oversaw it being built and he made sure everything was production ready from day one, so it makes sense that there would be few differences between it and the production models.

  3. Faygo

    Wow. Nothing more needs be said. Just Wow.

  4. Anastos

    Didn’t they feature one of these on Chasing Classic Cars?

    • Horse Radish

      Sorry, but irrelevant…..that Carini guy makes me puke.
      He embodies what is WRONG with the old car scene.
      He flies around the country on other people’s dime and with mediocre knowledge and skills on top of it….

  5. Charles

    Cool Find!

  6. jim s

    pure lust. a great great find.

  7. Conny K

    I bought number #7 in Sweden many years ago and I still have it…

    • Jesse Staff

      Please send in a photo, we would love to see it!

    • jim s

      yes i too would love to see pictures of your car. thanks

      • paul

        Yes would like to see them as well, but I’m guessing BF must be overwhelmed with folks sending stuff in since I sent some photo’s of my project a month ago.

    • Don Andreina

      me too

    • Rene

      I would also like to se pictures…

  8. Dolphin Member

    One of the most unusual and appealing designs on a US chassis for that time. Agreed that Frank Spring was a very talented designer, and a true car lover for saving this prototype. This would be a centre of attention at most car shows anywhere.

    Not very likely that it will sell for half a mil on eBay, but you never know, and the publicity doesn’t hurt. If I were lucky enough to own it, and crazy enough to sell it, I would place it with RM at one of their top International auctions, maybe even in Italy, where there would probably be lots of interest, not only for the connection to Touring but also for the love of ’50s US cars there.

  9. J.mann

    I don’t see any tail lights.

    • Dolphin Member

      I think the tail lights are in the top two “exhaust pipes” on each side, if I’m seeing this photo right:
      http://www.flickriver.com/photos/scott597/6799293662/

      The bottom pipes look like they are the exhaust pipes.

      • Horse Radish

        from what I see there are three lights on each side (pipes).
        two red, one white.
        NEITHER are for exhaust, which has an escape on the rear right under the bumper…..

      • paul

        Nah you are all wrong these are all exhaust pipes the tail lights are behind hidden panels that pop up when the lights light up.

    • Don Andreina

      bottom ‘pipes’ look like clear lens lights

      exhaust appears to come out under bumper

  10. Leo

    I would also be interested in seeing pictures of your car Conny!! Amazing car

  11. Rene

    I will keep my eyes open and send you pictures if I ever see one.

  12. Rene

    By the way: is that exhaust-pipes there on the side of the back end?

  13. Clay bryant

    We had the pipe organ stolen out of our church several years ago.This is lookin’ pretty damn familiar after seein’ the back of the car.I’d sure like to have a look in the trunk of the car!!!!!!!

  14. Horse Radish

    with the engine compartment the way it looks and the driver’s seat, missing luggage (only straps)
    I’d say it’s not worth a penny over $499.000

    • paul

      Plus the source of those suspect pipes & the missing organ!

  15. Roy

    Cool story, except Hudson was not Bought by Nash! They merged,
    and Packard and Studebaker were invited.

  16. Kman

    Sorry, I guess I’m the odd man out. I think this thing is absolutely butt ugly. Put a paper bag over it. Add that wimp engine and you aint got a lot going. When stick holes, goo gaws and thingies all over a body just to be different, well, you just end up with butkus. As a matter of fact, I think a lot of Italian styling is over rated even though there are some spectacular successes.

  17. Tom Gibbs

    Guess I am late to the game here . The Italia just showed up on my screen .
    Sounds like jealousy , love him or hate him Wayne Carini has more than mediocre knowledge . Show did feature an Italia ,maybe the best example out there . According to TV he has chased it since he was a kid for his private collection .

  18. Dustin

    a hudson italia?!?!?!?!? i love the exhaust pipes!!!!!!

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