Memory Lane – Hudson Commodore
By Roger Boylan
My recent week-long road test of a Chrysler Sebring convertible revived faint memories of another American convertible I once knew, long ago: a 1949 Hudson Commodore.
This boat-like conveyance, quite upscale for the time, boasted Hudson’s then-famous straight-six engine, the finest, creamiest powerplant from the finest American car manufacturer of the day after Lincoln and Studebaker. An off-white Commodore convertible very much like the one in the picture, with red leather interior, three on the tree, and all-tube in-dash radio, belonged to my mother. It transported us in the ’50s up and down the East Coast, from New York and Delaware, where most relatives were, to Miami, Florida, where my father was trying his hand at running a radio station and my mother was a freelance journalist.
She always drove the Hudson; Dad disdained it, I don’t remember why. Of course, he was never less than quirky in his automotive tastes, once owning a Morris, a Fiat, and an MG at the same time, a less-than-brilliant deployment of unreliable resources that guaranteed frequent paralysis of his entire car fleet. But back in the ’50s, along the palm-lined boulevards of burgeoning Miami, he drove a little blue-and-white Nash Rambler, itself boasting Hudson DNA; in 1954, the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson united to form American Motors Corporation. Then, in ’57, the Hudson brand disappeared altogether and AMC went on to dizzying heights (Jeep) and depths (the Pacer). By that time we were resident in Paris, where Dad was trying his hand at something else, not radio stations.
Officially, now that time has orphaned me, the Hudson is now mine, but I have no idea where it is, or even if it still exists. All I know is that I was never informed of its demise. Placed in storage in Delaware by my father in the ’70s, its documentation disappeared over the course of the deaths and upheavals and relocations of the intervening years. I saw it once, in the late ’70s, not long after returning to the U.S. At the time, it was in surprisingly good condition, with no tires or battery, of course, but leather upholstery un-torn, paint still intact, and solid moving parts. So there it may yet sit, in the cobwebby darkness of an anonymous storage unit, awaiting the deliverance that will probably only come with the wrecker’s ball. Too bad; restored, it would look good on a Hollywood back lot.
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