1950 Hudson Commodore

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.


16 responses to “1950 Hudson Commodore”

  1. hillbilly34 Avatar

    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.


    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Bill, nobody looking for info on Old Washington is going to stumble upon this post. I recommend you go back to the Old Washington post and leave your comment there, although even that post hasn’t been a hotbed of activity. http://blog.jimgrey.net/2011/07/14/old-buildings-in-old-washington/

  2. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Appropriate emulsion for the old Hudson. Nicely taken Jim–some of these are suitable for printing and framing!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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.

      1. hillbilly34 Avatar

        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.


  3. Bernie Kasper Avatar

    These are all amazing Jim !!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Bernie! That shallow DOF was challenging but I mostly made it work.

  4. dehk Avatar

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

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Heh, yeah! Unfortunately, this Hudson doesn’t have Twin-H Power like the one in Cars; that didn’t come around until a year or two later.

      1. dehk Avatar

        And yours never won any piston cups. Mater : “He did whattt in his cups?? “

  5. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Christopher! The full-on shot of the car is a little soft but the others are good. Glad you enjoyed this series.

  6. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    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?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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.

  7. Tom Klockau Avatar
    Tom Klockau

    Beautiful Hudson. I love the Step-Downs. Oh, and great pictures too!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Tom! I’ll always love the step-downs too. They’re so beautiful.

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