Stored 30 Years: 1951 Hudson Pacemaker

The idea of stepping down into a car is somewhat foreign to vehicle buyers today for the most part, as most people are now driving big 4×4 pickups and SUVs which they have to step up into. It wasn’t always that way and an example of that would be this 1951 Hudson Pacemaker. The seller has it posted here on craigslist in Redwood Falls, MN and they’re asking $10,900 for it.

Are those curb feelers?! Cool, that’s also something that we don’t see anymore, at least on new vehicles. It may be time to bring them back again given how much it costs to refinish curb-rashed wheels. Or, maybe modern humans don’t parallel park anymore so they’re not needed. This Hudson is dusty from being in storage for thirty years in a heated storage shed. It looks great so far. The front bumper “outer guards” were optional.

There’s the biggest issue with the body that I can see, the dented rear door and surrounding sheet metal. I’m guessing that happened in storage but who knows. It looks really low with a right-rear flat tire but, of course, the next owner will change most if not all of the rubber parts and whatever else is needed due to sitting since the early-1990s. This car has the optional rear fender skirts and it would look unusual without them, in my opinion.

The Hudson Pacemaker was the base model in the Hudson line and they were made for three years in the famous step-down design, 1950 through 1952. The company introduced the Step-Down body design in 1948 where the body was integrated and lowered down over the frame which made them lower than most cars and they offered great handling, taking several NASCAR championships. The interior looks good here and I’m hoping that those seat covers are protecting nice original seat fabric rather than covering up any big issues. I also see the optional clock, so this car, despite being a Pacemaker has a few options.

The engine should be a Hudson 232 cubic-inch L-head six which with the Carter one-barrel carb, only had around 110-120 horsepower. Still, these cars had nice performance and they can still easily keep up with traffic today. This looks like a clean-up, get running, change rubber parts and wear parts and drive it sort of car. Have any of you owned a Hudson?


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Never owned one of these but when I was about 2 feet tall it seemed every one of our relatives had one. Always thought the two door version of the Hudson and the ’49 Mercurys were great looking cars. You’d think considering the condition of the car and the asking price the seller would clean it up and put some decent tires on it.

    Like 16
    • Dave

      I’d draw Doc Hudson eyes in the dust on the windshield and leave it at that…this would be perfect for taking the grandkids out for Sunday ice cream.

      Like 9
  2. Ken Carney

    My Grand dad did. His was a ’52 Hornet
    4-door with a 308/3-speed with OD. I was
    very young then and it seemed those over
    stuffed seats would swallow me whole!
    Even today, these cars would be a satisfying alternative to those poor handling, no feel modern cars you drive
    today. I’d park this under my carport

    Like 5
  3. Pit Stop Pauly

    In my opinion one of the most beautiful cars ever made, wish I could afford it.

    Like 14
  4. Steve Clinton

    Every time I see a ’51 Hudson, I think of the movie ‘Cars’.

    Like 3
  5. Sam Shive

    Kicked Butt Back In The Day. NASCAR

    Like 9
    • Daniel M

      Sam Shive, Pacemakers never raced Nascar. Twin H Hornets did.

    • Richardd Adams

      My first impression was actually how they managed to keep it dusty, after moving it around a few times?

      Like 2
    • Dickie F.

      In our family, the black Hudson Hornet always brings up the story of our uncle’s famous Cape Town to Johannesburg trip in the 50s.
      My Dad, his two brothers and a friend, were on the above 1000 mile trip, which was on narrow single lane 50s national roads. These roads required multiple stops to open and close farm gates, that the then road passed through.
      Around midnight they stopped to use the facilities of the farm fence, in pitch darkness.
      Friend remained behind in the idling Hornet, in case the farmer appeared.
      They brothers were suddenly startled to the scream from the driver, that there was a ghostly fourth user of the fence standing next to them.
      They scrambled into the Hudson flooring it out of there, making the 1000 mile trip to Johannesburg in 10 hours.
      A record that probably still stands today.

      Like 2
  6. Dave Peterson

    It’s funny what an old man remembers when a memory is tweaked. We owned these for decades and still have Dad’s favorite ’53 Hornet. Yet I cannot shake the memory of trying to set the valves hot, or using compound to de-rust the rocker panels or learning to use a Uni-Syn to synchronize the carbs. They would fly when kicked. To my Father, they were luxury and performance personified. Yet his first modifications were always higher rear end gears and removal of the Twin H to achieve economy. When you grow up with 15 in the depth of the Depression, you are never safe from deprivation.

    Like 11
  7. Ben Kimminour

    I remember in my youth frequently passing a Hudson dealership in Pen Argyle, PA. There was activity at that location up until the mid-sixties. The building is now gone.

    Like 4
  8. Emma

    My dad owned one. It had reddish wine color plush upholstery. Felt like velvet. It was huge inside.

    Like 4
  9. John Schiessl

    While never having owned a Hudson seeing that vacuum wiper motor reminds me of having to get off the gas while climbing a hill to clean the windshield!

    Like 3
  10. Mutt

    Cool car.
    I should get it and store it in my garage right next to my defibrillator.

    Like 5
  11. Vance

    This car just exudes the cool factor, it just looks sleek and badass. Even the fact that it has 4 doors doesn’t detract from it one bit. They couldn’t have picked a better car for Paul Newman, it’s the Cool Hand Luke of automobiles. I truly hope that someone buys this and does it right, this car deserves that decision. Talking about tweaking memories, my Father taught me how to plant a garden, how to can vegetables, how to get 3 kinds of apples from 1 tree, how to pick wild asparagus,and how to enjoy baseball on the same 30 year old radio. Simpler times for sure, better times absolutely.

    Like 7
  12. Bob McK Member

    I had a friend in Denver that had a correctly restored one. It was truly magnificent. This one could be too.

    Like 3
  13. Wayne from Oz

    Fender skirts, (spats), weren’t optional, they were standard equipment.

    Like 2
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Wayne, they were optional on the Pacemaker according to the Automotive History Preservation Society website. That’s where I got my information from, are they incorrect about that?

      Like 1
      • Wayne from Oz

        Scotty Gilbertson, I served my apprenticeship when these cars were current, and I have never seen any stepdown that didn’t have skirts (spats), either when they were delivered to us or in the many years of service and maintenance. Thanks Scotty, I enjoy the site, especially the true barnfinds.

  14. Wayne from Oz

    These cars (Pacemakers), never raced. Someone is confusing a Pacemaker with a Hornet with twin H power.

    Like 1
  15. Christopher Gush

    Interesting from the standpoint that these cars possessed a “wet clutch”, ie the clutch pressure plate and disc being bathed in Hudson’s special oil. To replace it, removal of the front seat and floorpan are necessary to remove the transmission through the cabin for access. Fun.

    Like 2
    • Dave Peterson

      It was possible to remove the access pan from the bottom, then use a cup with a tube on it (which may have been a factory tool) to fill the clutch with fluid. My memory was of a small rectangle high up on the plate allowing the fill. When I was a kid I was told Hudsonite was whale oil. I do not know the truth, or lack thereof. I only removed the floor boards once as re-installation was painful.

      Like 1
  16. Clay Bryant

    Shoot, I’d buy it for the curb feelers to mount on my Corvette just to give them a buzz at the next car show.

    Like 1
  17. chrlsful

    this is not the Hornet (multi carbed?). What was the appeal in the day. That model is coveted to day. OHC or something?

    I’ll get out of the way now (but press the ‘keep in conversation’ in case)

  18. Rolf R Staples

    I owned a 48 Special way back when. I loved it!

  19. chrlsful

    Rolf? did U notice the ‘step down’ feature as different from the other vehicles?

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