When I was a kid, there were few things I liked better than hanging around shops and watching the mechanics do their thing. Maybe it was the doctor’s son syndrome: “open wide, and let’s see what’s going on in there: looks like the tonsils are inflamed again!” Well, seeing a Hudson in the bay of this busy little corner shop piqued my interest (actually, it was the cars out front; more on that tomorrow). Since there were no no more Hudson dealers by the time I arrived in the promised land, I’ve always wanted to see the inner workings of what made the Hornet six such a legendary engine.
We just recently had a love fest with the step-down Hudsons, and its dominance of the early NASCAR years, but here’s the actual Hornet’s nest, exposed. Yes, there’s a piston down somewhere in cylinder number one. With a 4.50″ stroke, the Hornet probably holds a record for stroke length in the post-war era. Cylinder bore was 3.81″. And yes, the valves are big. The mechanic said 2″ for the intakes. A bit of research shows that was the case with the X7 “severe duty” engine, but not the regular Hornet engine. But big enough.
This one overheated, and in the process two pistons were damaged and scored their cylinders. “You’ll feel better once those tonsils are out”.
And this Hornet convertible was also getting the twin-H power upgrade to two carbs.
Here’s the convertible from the rear. What a butt!
Just for the contrast, I’ll show you you a straight six of a different sort. This is of a Mark III Toyota Supra, but it’s had a Mark IV 2JZ engine installed, twin turbos and all. Took a bit of doing to make it fit; a pipe-fitter’s nightmare. The owner, who so kindly gave me access to the Opel 1900, figures it makes north of 400 hp. Let’s just say taking off the Hudson’s cylinder head sure look easy compared to what it would take to do the same with this one. How about a twin-turbo Hornet; Twin-T power?
I had two of these, briefly, during college. A ’51 convertible and a ’53 sedan. Both hydramatics with the single carb set-up. Both seriously slow by 70’s standards despite the Hornet’s reputation. I used to enjoy driving the streets of Philadelphia late at night, racing the city busses off the red lights.
The bus always won!
“The power of a ‘four,’ with the fuel economy of an ‘eight!'”
(apologies to Bruce McCall)
That two-tone paint really does not help the Hornet’s lines. Either one color above, and one below, the side spear, or keep it monotone, please. Mine was pale gray with navy leather upholstery. Conservative and very classy. Mine had electro-hydraulic windows and top. Cool – but SO heavy.
Loved that car, but what a slug!
Gotta agree with Baab on this one. That is just not very attractive two-toning. It makes the car look even taller and less balanced than it already is.
I think the two tone colour scheme looks great very cool workshop Paul.
I love the straight-six, it must be said. There’s something about the sound of them, a sonorous cacophony of valves, chains, gears and pistons that begs the driver to rev the hell out of it every bloody time. I felt this way with both my e30 BMW and my far more pedestrian Jeep Cherokee. I miss that sound every bit as much as my old Alfa 2.0L four and 3.0L six, which produced nigh-orgasmic exhaust notes. Granted, they might not have been fast, and they certainly weren’t efficient, but good lord they made a wonderful noise.
There is enough chrome on the front of that old Hudson to deflect a nuclear blast lol
I wonder how long you have to drive a Hudson 6 with the needle on the H before this happens?
And I have to echo JFoster about the sound of an inline 6. The Cherokee 4.0 was a really nice sounding engine, but my vote is for the Mopar Slant 6. The exhaust note of the slant 6 almost played a chord.
My parents had a Plymouth Volare wagon with a slant-six and three on the tree. I regularly lurk the nation’s Craigslist ads looking for another. I have a sickness.
I gotta say, I think the two-toning looks fab – to me it makes the car look lower and longer because the red doesn’t go up to the window line. And the two colours look awesome together too.
Add me to the list of straight 6 fans – partly for the smoothness, but mostly for the awesome sound! So many sound so right – the modified Jag E-Type that Jeremey Clarkson fanged on the Top Gear track being a recent highlight. BMW straight 6s sound fab, and even old Triumph 6s sound good. But my all-time-favourite is any twin-cam Nissan RB engine *wipes drool from mouth*. As Tim-the-Toolman said: “Oh Oh Oh-Oh Oh”!
I like the paint as well. A lot. In fact, I quit smoking a few weeks ago, but I now need a cigarette…
Not excited either way about the paint but I sure does like me some straight six engines.
I guess I’ve heard both sides of the straight versus v sixes. Have owned both. Never had a trouble free v6 and never had a troublesome straight one. That pretty much has to be the luck of the draw but it’s true. Favorite of all was the 300 ford.
How hard is it to get parts for a Hudson 6? (God I want one…)
I spent most of my life avoiding V6s. My short-ish career of car ownership had consisted of one H4, two H6s, and four I6s. But I’m now on car #8, and I finally have a V6. It’s a bigger engine and a faster car than any of the previous ones, but utterly without character.
Needless to say, I’m insanely jealous of the Aussies with their Barra sixes (including a turbo 4.0 I6!)
V6s can have character. Certain Alfa V6s are delicious, as are older Nissan models, the old 2.5 Duratec Ford was yummy sounding….there are many.
All cars which I’d love to drive some day. My dad had one of the first 4DSC Maximas (5-speed), and to this day I think it was his favorite car ever. Just yesterday I was trying to convince myself it would be non-insane to own an Alfa 164 as a daily driver. (Sanity has prevailed…. so far.)
David, allow me to assure you from exhilaratingly painful, firsthand experience; an Alfa 164 makes for an utterly thrilling and absolutely HORRIBLE daily driver. You will never curse so loudly at a car that you love so much. It was a terrible decision on my part, but one that I will never regret.
Are they really that bad? I had a customer with several and I was his mechanic….I didn’t ever have to fix much that was too big a PITA except chasing my tail over what turned out to be that rotten hose above the in-tank fuel pump…
The short answer is ‘yes’. The long answer would be very long and include the tale of the exploding brake calipers as well as the exclamation “why does this f***ing thing keep popping out of third gear!???!??!?”
In Italian, that’s a ringing endorsement!
Right on, I loved the C32A in my Honda Legend. Purred like a pussycat, howled like a wolf.
Ooo yes, we get the Barra 6 (and turbo) here in NZ too in the Falcon/Territory. Last one I drove was great. Very, very good engine – fuel efficient for their size, and gobs of torque everywhere. If maintained they go forever too – there are frequently Barra-engined ex-taxi Falcons/Fairmonts/Fairlanes for sale here still going strong with 500,000+ km on original engines. The Barra is of course a descendant of the straight-6 in the XK Falcon that y’all got in the States. Doesn’t share any parts any more, but I think the bore-centre spacing is still the same.
That’s right the bore spacing is still the same. I’m a big fan of the straight six, even if the earlier 250’s were low revving sloggers – quote from a European backpacker I came across “it’s like driving a diesel”. On the other hand the DOHC 2002-on is a lot better, the even sound good at 5-6000 rpm.
Power – yes, my old man’s FPV Typhoon had over 400hp not to mention 380lb-ft but they can also get good fuel economy, I had a 2007 hire car on a 300 mile trip getting 33mpg overtaking everything I could on a 2-lane highway.
Is it wrong to think a Jag C-type with 4.0 turbo would be a lot of fun?
Thats actually a good idea my doctors sideline(Beacham independant Jaguar) undertake such restomods Ive seen their Jag V8 XK150 very well done Im sure theyd oblige you.
Haha, not sure I’m quite up to one of Dr Beacham’s machines…
As an edit to my earlier post, the 380lb-ft torque is from 2000rpm. Gives a very large push in the back…
Oh yes, the Beacham Jags are awesome. Not sure if I’ve mentioned before, but one of our customers (who owns a large supermarket) has a Beacham MkII Jag with the supercharged V8 in it. What a car! If I ever win the lottery, I’ll be paying Dr B a visit and get him to restomod a Jag 420G for me. Dreams are free!
Having driven both a ’69 Camaro with the 327 and a ’68 with the 200 six, I have to say the Mustang handled and rode better. Even my ’68 el Camino handled better than the Camaro. I could actually enjoy that one on twisty mountain roads. I’ve driven several older cars and I love straight sixes. If the straight eights from the 30s were like them, no wonder they were so famous.
If I want to restore a Hudson Hornet, the Toyota 2JZ engine would be top of my list. I think they will feel much in home in the Hudson’s more spacious engine bay. It would make the Hudson more palatable in today’s traffic as well. A real Hudson hot rod!
Ive owned numerous straight 6 cars Zephyrs Falcons Holdens Vauxhalls Valiant slant and Hemi BMC C series, Cornbinder, Toyota so yep put me in the fan section great way to construct a power unit.
H4 I4 I4 I4 I4 I4 V8 V6 I4 V6 V6 I4+DC H4 I4+DC I4… so far.
No I6 yet, unless you count the one I had as a kid. Maybe that’s why they’re so attractive.
When I had the 170 cubic inch I6 from the Falcon apart this winter, it was a worn out slime monster, but oh-so-easy to work on. As for when it is running, after the rebuild, of course, it is oh-so-smooth and has that oh-so-satisfying I6 smooth and raspy rumble at the exhaust.
I’d like to see a GM Atlas (trailblazer) straight 6 stuffed in where a stovebolt used to be, it would be pretty cool in a hudson too
Had several big sixes…Ford 240 and 300 truck sixes, in two Gen2 Econoline vans; and a 250 in a Ford Granada.
Never had a V6 – although I came close, trying to negotiate a price on a C101 Jeepster, back before they became classics. At that time, the late 1970s, the V6 was the exotic rarity; and especially the Kaiser-cum-Buick Odd-Fire one that burbled irregularly.
(Scratch that – I just forgot, had THREE in three Chrysler minivans. Odd I’d forgotten…a minivan is so much an appliance, one tends to forget it actually has an engine…)
Never had a V8, either. Big Detroit models didn’t interest me; although today they have a certain nostalgia appeal.
Pair the Hudson body shell either the big Ford 300 six or the GMC 292 six with a careful selection of speed parts and you’ve got yourself a prime mover.