Vintage PR Shot: Hudson Italia – Milan On The Hudson

Frank Spring was such a talented designer, but was crushed when he was forced by executives to make the compact Hudson Jet tall and dumpy. As a consolation, management allowed him do what was getting Virgil Exner so much attention at Chrysler with his Ghia specials: have a sporty coupe built in Italy, with the idea of putting it into limited production. Carrozzeria Touring offered to realize the car of his dreams for a mere $28,000, so he sent them his drawings and they built it. His initial idea was to create a world-class performance car based around the Hornet and its big stock car racing dominant 308 inch six, but that got killed early on. It had to be based on the compact Jet, with its much more modes 202 inch six.

The result has a lot of stylistic redeeming qualities, if not exactly a tour de force. The prototype was shown to dealers and the public and orders were taken: all of 18 or 19 of them. The biggest problem was its price: $4,800 FOB Detroit, which was a thousand more than a Cadillac, and also more than a Nash-Healey, Kaiser Darrin or Corvette. Hudson was seen as a failed brand, and the performance wasn’t there either. The odds were stacked against it.

A total of 26 (including the prototype) were built. The merger of Hudson with Nash hammered the final coffin nail.