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Old Cars Reader Wheels: 1942 Hudson Six Traveler

Old Cars spotlights a reader submitted 1942 Hudson Six Traveler

Warren Henderson has had a long time affinity for the classic Hudsons. Lucky for us, Warren shared his story about this cherished Hudson and some Hudson history to boot.

Hudson Six Traveler

My Dream Car a 1942 Hudson Six Traveler

Lee Iacocca said “if you can find a better car buy it” that is what I did!

Back in 1956 when I was fifteen, my older brother Paul was in the Navy, stationed at Brunswick Naval Air Station, Brunswick, Maine. He asked our dad to find him his first car. What my dad found was the most beautiful car I had ever seen. Now I had seen plenty of great cars before in my young life. My dad had owned a 1932 Nash Lafayette big six, four-door sedan, my uncle George had a 1934 Terraplane coupe, then dad had a ‘38 Dodge four-door sedan, a ‘40 Buick Special four-door sedan, a 1953 Pontiac station wagon and his first ever new car, a 1956 Pontiac Station Wagon (I have two brothers and two sisters, requiring big cars to fit us all in). What dad found for my brother was a 1940 Hudson sedan, in beautiful black paint, that shined like a mirror. I love the body on those cars, especially the back (no humpback, like the ’38 Dodge). The interior was every bit as nice as any living room I had ever been in, and the back seat was more comfortable than any couch I had ever sat on. This was a low mileage car and dad got it for a good price, the only problem with the car was it needed a new oil bath cork clutch, which meant dropping the drive tube and pulling the transmission to get at it. Dad was working for the MTA starting at the Arlington Heights station, so he would leave before 5am and not get home until after 7pm. Oh, did I forget to say that I was no mechanic, I was working alone, and this was the first car I was going to work on. My “garage” was an open field across the road from our house. My lift would be the Hudson’s bumper jack and my jack stands were stones from a nearby stone wall (Hey! I was 15 remember). All this with with no knowledge, “don’t ask me how I managed to accomplish this”, because even to this day I do not know. Somehow working afternoons after high school, I managed to get the transmission out, install the new clutch and get the car back together running like new. I can say that because my brother Paul never had a complaint about how it ran.

Ever since that day I have always wanted a vintage 1940s Hudson car and after over 35 years in the old car, classic car hobby, I finally found and bought one, the car of my dreams - a 1942 Hudson Six Traveler two-door 3-passenger coupe. If anything, I find the ‘42s better looking than even the 1940s, with their new grille and side trim. By the way, the first classic car I bought in 1985 was a 1935 Ford five-window coupe, with a trunk big enough to put my mountain bike in and my new Hudson trunk looks to be just as big!

I found my dream car on the www.dragoneclassic.com web site...

“Offered here is a fairly uncommon Hudson: a 1942 Hudson Super Six coupe. With the onset of World War II in 1941, the 1942 model year was cut short for all American car manufacturers including Hudson, so today it is difficult to find any 1942 model. This particular car is a very solid example that has a very well executed restoration completed about 15 years ago. The dark maroon color really suits this car well and the cloth interior is done to factory specifications. Mechanically the 212 cubic inch six-cylinder flathead engine runs very well and the three speed transmission shifts as it should. The engine makes just over 100 horsepower and that really makes this car move along well. Going down the road it handles incredibly well and the suspension is very tight. Overall this is a very nice car that has been very well maintained and should be welcome to any great American car collection. It is ready for summer driving. Contact us today for more information”.

Researching the car, I found many interesting facts about my “new” vehicle. In 1940 Hudson’s 20,000-mile endurance run, with an average speed of 70.5 mph, captured a new American Automobile Association record to helped bolster sales. The 1941 Hudson’s retained the front-end styling of the 1940 models, but the bodies were new with 5.5 inches added to their length giving more legroom. A new manual 3-speed synchromesh transmission was quieter with all helical gears. Wheelbases increased by 3 inches, with offerings of 116, 121, and 128 inches, and height was decreased with flatter roofs. Convertibles now had a power-operated top. Big Boy trucks now used the 128-inch wheelbase.

On December 7, 1941 with Japan bombing Pearl Harbor, the United States officially entered World War II. At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack the 1942 model year was underway, with Hudson introducing their new models in September. As a response to General Motors' Hydromantic automatic transmission, Hudson introduced its "Drive-Master" system. Conventional buyers could still opt for fully manual shifting with a three-speed on the column and overdrive was also available as an option. Re-engineering of the frame rear end to use lower springs reduced car height by 1.5 inches. Sheet metal "spats" on the lower body now covered the running boards. While still there, the doors were now curved to minimize their prominence and new wider front and rear fenders. By 1942, Hudson officially had the Traveler and Deluxe on the 116″ wheelbase, the Super Six on a 121″ wheelbase, and the Commodore Six and Eight, both on a 121″ wheelbase.

My ’42 Hudson Six Traveler (VIN T2017742) has all its trim pieces chrome plated or bright metal, something that they did not carry through for the remainder of the model year. I am still trying to find the build date of my vehicle, possibly on Halloween 1942. The “blackout models”, also sometimes referred to as “victory models”, were the cars built on and after January 1, 1942. The six-cylinder Hudson was by far the most often chosen engine option for the 1942 model year, of which only 40,661 were produced, automobile production in the United States ceased on February 5, 1942. Only 5,396 1942 Hudson’s were built, during the war. Hudson ceased auto production from 1942 until 1945 during World War II, to manufacture material for the war effort including aircraft parts and naval engines, and anti-aircraft guns.

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