Race Legend: 1951 Hudson Hornet Coupe

Hudson isn’t a name that is often associated with racing, but when the now defunct company introduced the Hornet in 1951, the company cemented its place in racing history. The Hornet dominated NASCAR from ’51 to ’54 and even saw success in NHRA trials and dirt track events for years to come. This 1951 Hudson Hornet Coupe was parked for many years. It is located in Beloit, Kansas and can also be found here on eBay.

The seller didn’t provide much information about it, but it obviously is in need of some attention. The body looks straight, but there is plenty of surface rust and some spots that look like they might be cancerous. The seller didn’t include any photos of the underside, but we are going to guess there is rust under there. Hudson designed these as a unibody structure, which helped with handling, but can make rust a serious issue.

The interior has seen better days and is going to need a refresh. The Hornet was designed with Hudson’s step down floors, which gave the car more interior space and a lower center of gravity. The combination of low center of gravity and smooth aerodynamics helped the Hornet dominate NASCAR for four seasons straight.

The original 308 cui engine is in the car and the seller was able to get it running. It came with the Twin H-Power option, which added twin carburetors to the big straight six. With the Twin carburetors, this engine put out 145 hp and 257 lbs. of torque. This engine proved to be extremely durable and was capable of handling considerable power. Hopefully the seller didn’t damage the engine in the process of getting it running. They state that the clutch and brakes aren’t working and will need attention.

While two door Hornets are sought after, performing a complete restoration will likely leave the next owner upside down. If there isn’t any serious rust or mechanical issues, it could be possible to come out ahead on this one. This will likely be a labor of love, but we are sure there are is a dedicated enthusiast out there that would love to save it. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that the seller’s reserve isn’t set much above the current bid. Would you restore it, leave it alone, or turn it into a period racer?

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Comments

  1. Richard

    I’d customize it, I think…..swap in an AMC 401/727 TorqueCommand or a Borg-Warner automatic (just to keep the drivetrain in the family, no 350 Chevy/Turbo 350 transmission combos allowed) and upgrade the paint, instruments, interior materials, and the wheel/tire combo, and you could have a seriously cool mildly modified custom on your hands!

  2. Dolphin Member

    With their 308 CI engines and twin carbs these were successful in stock car racing back when they were new, at a time when “stock” actually meant stock…or close.

    My father owned one of these back in the 1950s and swapped in an Oldsmobile V8 and standard transmission because he liked GM engines but wanted the space of the Hudson for the family. It wasn’t a speed thing–these are too big and heavy to be very speedy—it was more for the efficiency of the OHV V8 engine, and also the challenge of doing the swap. When you got inside the car you actually stepped down because the floor was at the lower edge of the frame rails. This step-down design was a selling feature in Hudson ads. Unfortunately it didn’t save the company, which didn’t last long after this car was built.

  3. AMCFAN

    Way to go Richard, I am with you. AMC Power would be an fantastic choice for a custom. 401’s are hard to find. A great often overlooked engine would be the AMC 360. Easier to locate and will still make great power.

    Like 1
  4. twwokc1

    Looks like a lot of work needed but will be well worth it.

  5. Chris

    Ever since “Driving Miss Daisy” the ’51 Hudsons are riding high on my “I want one” car list. Either 2 or 4 door, Hudsons are a car that looks best when they’re moving. This should be restored as there is so much left and it has the Twin H-Power option. Restore it to look like Paul Newman’s Hudson in “Cars” and you’d have a cool street rod. The TV Pawn Shop program just had a fellow come in to sell his restored ’51 4 dr Hudson. Sold in the low $20,000 range. No power steering on these, but the steering wheel must be 2 feet across for leverage. Great car, hope the rust isn’t too bad.

  6. FRED

    I HAVE A FRIEND THAT HAS ONE THAT HE MADE INTO 1950’S 1960’S STYLE HOT ROD.CHROME WHEELS AND BABY MOONS,LAKELAND PIPES AND A MAROON PAINT JOB.LOOKED AND RAN REAL NICE BUT HE USED FORD FOR THE POWER TRAIN WHICH DIDN’T SIT WELL WITH SOME OF US.HIS REASON WAS THAT’S WHAT I HAD IN MY GARAGE AND DIDN’T WANT SEE IT GO TO WASTE.WE FORGAVE HIM OF COARSE.

  7. Michael J Amato

    That car is so Doc Hudson!

  8. Scot in San Jose

    The 308 motor is a good one. It is a bit thirsty and the twin H even more so. Hudson was known for metallurgy and the motors did very well. Reasons to change are: access to more modern comforts, mileage, access to parts, the puzzled look on mechanics faces when they open the hood.
    My bi weekly driver is a 1940 Hudson Super Six. These motors are smooth and have a good amount of grunt. Mine you don’t want to massage too much but the 308 can be made to put out.
    As for the power steering, not needed. The hoods are long so that the motor can be placed to balance the car. I can turn the wheel on my ’40 with one finger when standing still. Modern cars do not need to be so well balanced because they have power steering, so they can be shorter.
    These Hornets ride very nicely. Sorry to say though rebuilding this one would be a labor of love. There are a number of Hornets out there that would be a better starting point.

  9. Nick

    It’s already got the “cut down” look of a 49 Mercury. Minor work if rust isnt a major problem and you got a custom lead sled that can be put back factory stock.

  10. Marc Robertson

    I’d get it to move & stop, and then drive it while I fixed it up.

  11. Kenneth Ufheil

    Car is a Super Six, Serial number stars with “5A”, Hornets serial numbers started with “7A”. So at some point someone put in the 308 with Twin H, added the larger tailights and the Hornet fender rockects. Steering wheel is from a ’54 . Very messy, but if it isn’t rusted out in the perimeter framing I suppose it could be saved by someone with lots of time, and money.

  12. Foxxy

    in the late 50’s to early 60’s I had a neighbor that was connected to dirt racing through a tire shop. he would take me to every race within 40 miles or so, and there were quite a few around here. usually they were just hayfield’s turned to dirt tracks. I can remember the hudsons because they were so hard to beat. They were not really that fast, but the cars handled like they were on rails. While the fords and chevy’s were beating each other up trying to catch the hudsons, the hudsons would just roll over on the suspension and just run the track. it was amazing. The way they handled puts me in the mind of early 70’s volvos. lots of body roll, but once it rolled so far it just hung there. -peace-

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