1948 Hudson Commodore Limousine: A Classic Beauty That Redefined Automotive Design

The 1948 Hudson Commodore Limousine holds a special place in automotive history. It represents a significant milestone in the evolution of car design, thanks to Hudson’s innovative “step-down” unibody concept. This groundbreaking design not only enhanced passenger safety and comfort but also revolutionized the way automobiles were built. In this article, we delve into the captivating story of the 1948 Hudson Commodore Limousine, its unique features, and the impact it had on the automotive industry.

The Birth of the Step-Down Design

In 1948, Hudson introduced their revolutionary “step-down” unibody models. Unlike traditional car designs, the passenger compartment of these models was positioned inside the frame’s perimeter, forming an integral part of the body. Stepping into a Hudson Commodore Limousine meant descending into a floor that was surrounded by the car’s frame. This innovative approach resulted in a lower center of gravity, leading to improved handling and a safer driving experience. The success of the step-down design prompted other automakers to adopt this groundbreaking concept in their own vehicles.

1948 Hudson Commodore photo

The Transformation into a Limousine

In 1948, Mrs. Chapin commissioned Derham Body to convert a new Hudson into a luxurious limousine. The car underwent several modifications, including the installation of a roll-up divider window behind the driver. To achieve a more formal and elegant appearance, much of the chrome and nameplates were removed, and the car was painted black with a padded top. This unique limousine, one of only three ever built during that period, showcases the versatility and customization options offered by Hudson.

The Legacy of Hudson Motor Car Company

The Hudson Motor Car Company was established in 1909 by Joseph L. Hudson and remained in operation until 1954. In that year, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator to form American Motors Corporation (AMC). The Hudson nameplate continued to grace vehicles until 1957. Throughout its history, Hudson played a significant role in the automotive industry, introducing innovative designs and pioneering advancements in car manufacturing.

From Low-Priced Cars to Resilience

During its early years, Hudson gained recognition for producing affordable vehicles. The “Twenty,” priced at under $1,000, was among the first low-cost cars available in the American market. Its success was evident, with over 4,000 units sold in its debut year. Hudson’s finest year came in 1929, with an impressive production of nearly 301,000 vehicles, including the popular Essex model. This achievement solidified Hudson’s position as one of the top-selling American automakers.

1948 Hudson Commodore photo

However, like many other companies, Hudson faced challenges during the Great Depression, which resulted in a significant decline in sales. The company’s fortunes changed with the arrival of the 1930s, as Hudson retooled its models for greater efficiency. Just as the economy began to recover, the outbreak of World War II brought production to a halt.

Post-War Resurgence

Following the war, Hudson returned to civilian automobile production, utilizing the profits it had earned from building airplanes and engines for landing craft. The 1946 Hudson models were essentially facelifted prewar vehicles designed to meet the strong demand for new cars. These models retained the reliable inline six- and eight-cylinder engines, and various transmission options were made available, including the Vacumotive Drive and Drive Master.

In 1947, Hudson made minor revisions to the interior and exterior of their vehicles. However, their focus was on the upcoming release of the groundbreaking “Step Down” line, set to debut in 1948. The step-down models boasted modern, sleek designs, with low rooflines and distinctive slab-sided bodies. Hudson’s advertisements proudly declared, “Most Room! Best Ride! Safest!” This new direction garnered significant attention, leading to a nearly 50% increase in sales compared to the previous year and propelling Hudson to 11th place in the market.

1948 Hudson Commodore photo

The 1948 Hudson Commodore: Features and Specifications

The 1948 Hudson Commodore was an exceptional vehicle that showcased the brand’s commitment to luxury and performance. Built on a 124-inch wheelbase platform, the Commodore boasted an overall length of 207.5 inches. The model lineup included sedans, club coupes, and convertible broughams. Both six- and eight-cylinder engines were available, providing a range of power options to suit different preferences.

The inline L-head six-cylinder engine featured a displacement of 262 cubic inches, a Carter two-barrel carburetor, and solid valve lifters. With a compression ratio of 6.5:1, it generated an impressive 121 horsepower at 4,000 RPM. The inline L-head eight-cylinder engine, on the other hand, had a displacement of 254 cubic inches and offered 128 horsepower at 4,200 RPM. Optional upgrades, such as an aluminum cylinder head and an oil bath air cleaner, further enhanced the performance of these engines.

The 1948 Hudson Commodore came with a host of standard amenities, including Bedford Cord upholstery, salt and pepper-colored rubber floor mats, and rear carpeting. Exterior features comprised twin taillamps, hubcaps, and front parking lamps. The level of accouterments varied between the Super and Commodore models, with the latter boasting additional interior trim and luxurious details.

1948 Hudson Commodore photo

Pricing and Production

The pricing of the 1948 Hudson Commodore varied depending on the bodystyle and engine choice. For the six-cylinder models, the sedan was priced at $2,400, the club coupe at $2,375, and the brougham convertible at $3,060. Opting for the eight-cylinder powertrain increased the prices to $2,520 for the sedan, $2,490 for the club coupe, and $3,140 for the brougham convertible.

In terms of production, Hudson manufactured 49,388 units of the Super Six, along with 5,338 units of the Super Eight. The Commodore Six saw a production run of 27,159 vehicles, while 35,315 Commodore Eights were produced. These numbers highlight the popularity and demand for the 1948 Hudson models.


The 1948 Hudson Commodore Limousine remains a timeless testament to Hudson’s innovation and craftsmanship. With its groundbreaking “step-down” design, luxurious amenities, and impressive performance, it captured the hearts of car enthusiasts and collectors alike. The Hudson Commodore Limousine continues to be cherished as a classic beauty that revolutionized automotive design and left an indelible mark on the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What makes the 1948 Hudson Commodore Limousine unique? The 1948 Hudson Commodore Limousine stands out due to its innovative “step-down” unibody design, which enhances safety, passenger comfort, and handling.
  2. How many Hudson Commodore Limousines were built during this period? Only three Hudson Commodore Limousines were built in 1948, making them extremely rare and sought after by collectors.
  3. What led to the success of the Hudson Motor Car Company? Hudson gained success by producing low-priced cars, such as the popular “Twenty,” and continued to innovate and adapt to market demands over the years.
  4. Did the Hudson Motor Car Company survive beyond 1948? While the Hudson nameplate remained until 1957, the company merged with Nash-Kelvinator in 1954 to form American Motors Corporation (AMC).
  5. What were some notable features of the 1948 Hudson Commodore? The 1948 Hudson Commodore boasted spacious interiors, elegant upholstery, and various amenities like twin taillamps and front parking lamps, providing a luxurious driving experience.

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