My favorite car at this year’s Mecum auction was a pale yellow 1950 Hudson Commodore convertible. I photographed it extensively on Kodak Plus-X Pan film with my Nikon F2AS and my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens.

Traditional cars of that time placed the body and passenger compartment atop a frame, and to enter them you had to step up. The Hudson’s passenger compartment sat much lower because it was placed between the frame rails. It created a feeling of stepping down as you entered, and led to these cars being called the step-down Hudsons. This design also lowered the car’s center of gravity, helping these Hudsons to be very stable and to handle exceptionally. You can read a wonderfully thorough history of the step-down Hudsons here.

Click any of these photos to see them larger and to scroll through this entire gallery. Using relatively slow Plus-X (rated at ISO 125) in the light available under a tent on a gray day, I kept my f/2 lens wide open for all of these shots. That led to a very narrow in-focus patch for all of these photographs.

I have always loved the step-down Hudsons. When I was in middle school, I used to write dreadful short stories, in longhand, on notebook paper. I don’t mind at all that none of them survive. The only one I remember involved a main character who drove a 1950 Hudson sedan. I wanted my main character to be quirky and fiercely independent, and I figured that driving a 30-year-old (at the time) sedan from an independent automaker would symbolize his personality well.

What I didn’t know then was that Hudson’s standard six-cylinder engine, which this car has, was considered quite powerful, moreso than the eight-cylinder engines from Buick and Chrysler, with which Hudson’s cars competed in price.

My favorite car from last year’s auction was a 1966 Ford Custom 500.

Film Photography, Old Cars

1950 Hudson Commodore


16 thoughts on “1950 Hudson Commodore

  1. Jim,
    This is not a response to your excellent piece on vintage cars, but one related to your earlier coverage of Old Washington, OH. I’m writing a story about my GGG-grandfather, Gen. Simon Beymer, who operated the “Black Bear” Tavern in town. I’m trying to place it on a local map and would love to communicate with some of the locals who have good memory or knowledge of Old Washington in the period: 1850-1900.
    Thanks for all your wonderful tales on old roads in the Midwest.


    • Thanks John for your very nice compliment! I’ve photographed old cars more than about anything else and never tire of the subject. I love how these turned out on the Plus-X but do wish I had one or two more stops of exposure to get a little more DOF. Maybe I need to save my pennies for a 50/1.4.

      • Thanks, Jim, for your comment to my inquiry on Old Washington. I will follow up with those respondents who commented on your piece on OW; also will make additional probing of Beymer descendants.
        Keep your road narratives coming — I sure do enjoy reading them.


  2. Every since I watched the kids movie “Cars”, every time I see a Hudson I will start quoting lines from the movie.

  3. Christopher Smith says:

    Wonderful photos Jim, your very lucky to be able to photograph such wonderful cars. I was wondering when the connection with “Cars” would
    creep into the comments. I agree with John (bodegabayf2) I would love to have a framed photo of the full car surrounded by the other photos
    adorning my wall at home. Love the car and the photos.

  4. Lone Primate says:

    I liked the little note about having your protagonist drive a 30-year-old Hudson. :)

    You’re going to think it’s strange, and I hope it’s not off-putting, but what jumped out for me in this post was the pop-up notations at the bottom of each photo. Dead cool. Is this new or have you been doing it for a while and I just didn’t notice?

    • Actually, LP, it’s a feature of my new blog template, one that my old template didn’t have. The new template has a couple new-to-me features that I’ve been test-driving lately. I rather like this “gallery” post format, except that to use it I have to host my images here at WordPress, rather than at Flickr as I usually do.

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