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Parked Since 1977: 1951 Hudson Pacemaker Custom

Have you ever imagined how different the American automotive landscape could have been if a few cards had fallen differently? If Hudson had access to a Ford or GM budget post-war, could it have continued to produce innovative cars like the Hornet and this 1951 Pacemaker? Sadly, we’ll never know. However, these classics are finding favor in a softening classic market because they represent an affordable entry point into the ownership experience. This Pacemanker has sat since 1977, but it appears to be a solid and unmolested survivor that deserves to return to active duty. The seller has listed the Hudson here on Facebook in Ida Grove, Iowa. They have set a price of $4,500, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder NW Iowa for spotting this beauty.

Hudson introduced the Pacemaker in 1950 as a smaller alternative to its iconic Hornet range. It remained in production until 1954, with our feature car rolling off the line in 1951. It has been in storage since 1977 but appears to retain most of its original Jefferson Green paint. The listing is sparing on specific information, but the photos suggest that any penetrating exterior rust is confined to patchable areas in the lower body extremities. The steel around the windows looks sound, although there is no information on the state of the floors and frame. It would take an in-person inspection to confirm the presence and extent of any issues on what is a complete and unmolested classic. The trim and chrome look restorable, and there are no apparent significant glass issues.

Powering this Hudson is the company’s 232ci flathead six that produced 112hp and 175 ft/lbs of torque in its prime. The power was fed to the rear wheels via a three-speed manual transmission. However, buyers could specify an optional overdrive, a three-speed Supermatic, or the sophisticated Vacumotive Drive-Master unit for an additional $105 above the sticker price. The Pacemaker was a surprisingly lively performer that could cruise effortlessly at highway speeds. However, its trump card was its impressive handling capabilities. The car’s “step-down” design produced a considerably lower center of gravity than its competitors. This made the Pacemaker and the larger Hornet feel more planted on twisting roads. This Hudson doesn’t run, and it would be fair to assume it hasn’t since 1977. The seller confirms the motor is stuck, and attempting to free it will be the buyer’s first task on the road to returning this classic to active service.

This Hudson’s interior is the surprise of the show because it is complete and in remarkable condition for a barn find. The upholstered surfaces look like they might respond to a deep clean because there appears to be a distinct lack of significant rips and tears. The dash looks good, and the gauges are free from deterioration. The buyer’s shopping list will include a few small bright trim pieces and a replacement wheel, but patient scouring of the usual online auction sites might produce positive results. This car emerged at a time of sky-high optimism within the American community, and this is perfectly represented in the labeling of this car’s heater controls. I mean, what modern manufacturer would refer to them as “Weather Controls?” This survivor may not possess the sheer automotive tinsel offered on current models, but the new owner will appreciate the pushbutton radio.

Hudson produced 34,495 examples of the Pacemaker in 1951, representing a nearly 40% drop compared to the first sales year. The situation would continue to deteriorate in 1952 and 1953, with the company dropping the badge entirely at the end of 1954. How many remain today is unknown, although you are more likely to see the larger Hornet in the current market. These are not mega-bucks machines, although values have remained stable when more desirable and iconic models are experiencing a decline. A pristine example will struggle to top $22,000, but it occasionally happens. This Hudson has been on the market for a while, opening the possibility of making a respectful offer. After all, what’s the worst the seller can say?


  1. Robert Proulx

    As many of the era’s entry level no power assist for brakes and steering so for safeties sake i would get it converted to power disc’s in front at minimum. I’m guessing 6 volts electrical so an upgrade to 12 should be in order to. This could be an interesting project for a moderate outlay of money

    Like 5
  2. Walter

    In 1969 my father bought me a 1952 Hudson Hornet to drive to high school. Only my best 2 friends would ride with me to school, and I couldn’t get a girl within 100 yards of it. 57 Chevy was the cool ride in those days. I got laughed at by a number of girls in a 67 Chevy as we were both entering the expressway ramp. They zoomed by me laughing and screaming. I told my friend, wait till this thing gets rolling. About 2 miles down the road the 262 cubic inch straight 6 kicked in and we passed that Chevy like he was standing still. 3 on the tree and enough room to have a party in. Learned to appreciate that bannana boat.

    Like 37
    • Lance

      Walter they weren’t NASCAR champs for no reason.

      Like 17
      • Steve Mehl

        My high school and college English teachers are rolling over in their grave because of the double negative sentence.

        Like 2
    • DRV

      I found one in a field ten years ago. Got out of the car on a rural 2 lane and tricked a few hundred feet through the field. This green and original in and out with no rust! It still had the leather laced spring covers on the rear! I Couldn’t find the farmer so I moved on …
      While helping restore a ’54 Hollywood I read about their stamped metal being phosphorus treated multiply times. Everything on them was just overbuilt.

      Like 2
    • Chris Roe

      Hornets were 308 c.i., the Wasps had the ‘262’,and the Chevy would have to have been sick.

      Like 2
      • Steve Mehl

        As someone who owned a 1950 Commodore Hudson with the 262 engine and a 1954 Super Wasp Hollywood with an exchanged 308 Hornet Twin H Hornet engine, I can tell you that the Chevy owner was too busy making out with the girl in his car to be bothered by racing an old relic like the Hudson. I loved my Hudsons and rode in them as a kid in the early 1950’s but they were slow to accelerate compared to modern cars. While driving my 1950 Commodore one day on the highway in York, PA around 1992 a fast sports car pulled next to me in the other lane, so I stepped on it and was beating him. I foolishly thought the Hudson was the faster car until I embarrassedly realized the guy was only trying to move over into my lane so he waiting for me to pull ahead.

        Like 3
    • John

      Spot on waiter,you could sleep in that back seat.

      Like 0
  3. Tony C

    I wasn’t aware of this model. So, I kind of take it as the junior-edition version of the Hornets and Wasps, which Hudson tried to promote the infamous Jet as being in ’53.

    Very nice shape for a car that sat dormant for 46 years.

    Like 5
  4. Lion

    Back in the 60s there was a dirt stock car track near us and those big Hudsons would lose a wheel on occasion. Could sure cause excitement in the parking lot. I heard the used bolts instead of studs and nuts like all the other makes. Anyone know about this?

    Like 1
    • Chris Cornetto

      They did use bolts as did Buick up until 1960. You become well aware of what you are driving with different engineering things like that.

      Like 1
  5. Big C

    I looked at a Pacemaker back in the early 90’s. Sort of a good body and frame, but everything else was strewn around the garage. He was asking $2,000. I declined. He called me back, twice, dropping the price finally to $1500. Still, nope. I didn’t need another problem in the garage.

    Like 2
  6. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned this car as being a budget “Miss Daisy”.
    To me, it looks exactly like a Hornet. I guess you’d have to put them side by side to see the differences.
    This car looks great for its year and sitting for so long. Looks like a fairly easy resto, except for that stuck engine.

    Like 4
    • Wayne from Oz

      Pacemakers were a shorter wheelbase and smaller capacity engine. The extra length was all forward of the front doors. Hope this helps.

      Like 2
  7. V12MECH

    The Hudson rims were weak around the hub/bolt circle, would flex and break. Adding a center section from another rim and welding it in place was an accepted modification back then. Then the right rear axle would break, and the trapped wheel in the wheel well, made for numerous accidents, converting to full full floating rear axle fixed that.

    Like 2
  8. Norman Phillips

    I may have helped build that car. I attended college in the morning and worked for Hudson the afternoon shift. I worked at the stamping plant and couldn’t hardly understand anyone for nearly two weeks. Eventually my brain learned to filter out the presses and focus on the voices.

    Like 1
  9. Steve Mehl

    The dark green color of this Hudson is the same color as my uncle’s 1951 Hudson sedan that took us to the drive in movies in the early 1950’s. Then in the early 1960’s my aunt was a brand new driver and her husband bought a used Hudson sedan with this same dark green color. Probably the worse Hudson color I have ever seen. It really takes away from an otherwise beautiful looking car. By the way, my aunt made quite a showing of her green Hudson because on her first journey with this car she ended up driving on the wrong side of a boulevard going against traffic in a Chicago suburb where we lived. I was a passenger that day, it was embarrassing. She pulled into someone’s driveway and a construction worker had to back the car out of the drive for her and point in the right direction. The car was just too long for her to handle as a new driver. My cousin, her son, will attest to that since maybe on that same trip she did not know how to use the brakes properly and my cousin hit his head on the windshield because of that. So this featured green colored Hudson brings back these memories. When I bought my first Hudson in 1991 or ’92 I remember looking back to the rear window to back up the car and I thought I was looking at the distance of a football field. The car was just that long. I would have preferred the shorter Pacemaker which I thought looked better because of the smaller size.

    Like 4
  10. Howard A Member

    Thanks to all for the stories of yore. Names like Hudson, Packard, Nash always bring out the memories,,,for now. Today, for many that are familiar with those makes, the word “Pacemaker” takes on an entirely different meaning today, but Hudson had this fleeting moment in the sun, until the others actually caught up, combined with the best drivers of the time, they literally, “set the pace”, and marketing was quick to pick up on that. Not to take anything away from Hudson, I believe it was its low stance that helped too, but most all we ever saw, were anything but that. Old relic hulks in the “back row”, nobody wanted a used Hudson. “Twin H”? Never saw’r one, and probably the absolute last thing on a Hudson buyers mind. Great cars, but sorely needed a V8 during this time. I heard the ride was unmatched. I’m a big fan of Hudson mostly because of it’s merger with AMC. Many of Hudsons features ended up in Ramblers.
    Not sure about cars like this that need a “light restoration” anymore. 30( 40?) years ago, in my classic car heyday, a car like this would’ve gone for MAYBE a grand, tops, and it’s in very similar condition as our Packard when found( for $500). Not many yards had Hudsons, or Packards for that matter, but some did, and used parts got this going, quick paint, for under $2grand, you fit right in with all the other families that had $2grand cars. And we were happy. I just don’t see that initiative today. It will become some corny, clown wheeled, puffy interiored low( er) rider with some goofy engine that could pull a reefer, and sit.

    Like 0
  11. Bailsout

    About 12 years ago I ebayed a ‘49 Hudson coupe with 3spd manual transmission w/ overdrive. I had taken the GreyDog to Boise from central California and stayed a week at my high school buddy’s place where I got it to run and stop. I made it as far as Bend, OR, another buddy, but it was as far as the car could go. I was ignorant of the fact that these Hudson’s had liquid/wet clutches and I had burnt this one up. I’ve heard that it was the smoothest shifting manual transmissions ever made. It had a rear windshield wiper. The dash was super cool withe the instrument cluster in the center and glove boxes on each side. Brilliant. I put on new rims and radial tires, but don’t remember the bolts or lug nuts. Probably bolts like my ‘54 Kaiser Manhattan and my early fifties Packards. I sold the Hudson before replacing the clutch with all the new parts I bought for it and the special fluid. I regret that sale.

    Like 0
    • Steve Mehl

      I can relate to that wet clutch story. I bought a 1950 Hudson Commodore sedan in 1992 with an advertised mileage of just 26,000 miles. But probably more like 126,000 miles. The dealer I bought it from agreed to deliver the car to me using his truck with a trailer. After delivery my mechanic said that the clutch was no good and he saw that the fluid reservoir for the clutch was empty. So we called up the dealer and he admitted that they drove the Hudson onto the trailer without knowing that it had a wet clutch. Fortunately, my mechanic’s father was a former AMC dealership mechanic who long ago had been buying up NOS Hudson parts from that dealership when they wanted to get rid of those parts that were just taking up space. So he had a supply of NOS clutches and I bought one from him. I got many parts from him at cheap prices since he got a lot of those parts for just a buck a piece. You Hudson lovers will enjoy this story. A friend of my mechanic’s family in the early 1990’s or maybe 1980’s once traveled down south with his RV and he heard about an old man who Hudson parts in a barn. So he went to check it out and the guy had crates of NOS Hudson motors and tons of NOS parts. But he would only sell the entire lot. No problem for this Hudson guy since he was wealthy. So he told the guy he will go back home to park the RV and then come back with a rental truck to take everything. The old man said, no, it all has to go now! So the old guy started shoving all these boxes of parts into the RV until the other guy told him to stop since there was no way the collection would all fit. So he left empty handed. What a treasure that was, NOS Hudson motors. A true story because I knew the guy who made that trip. He ended up buying my 1954 Hudson. I should say he stole it for the price he got it for. I have lots more Hudson stories, but don’t want to bore the readers.

      Like 1
      • Bailsout


        Like 0

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