1954 Hudson Super Jet #4522
Born on the Canadian assembly line, this Jet is unfortunately not a survivor. Read on to learn about the fast-paced life it lived, submitted by a site viewer.
"...Model 2D, serial # 4522. They are the numbers which designated the 1954 Super Jet that I owned 35 years ago, but unlike the others pictured on your site, this little Hudson was not quite in it's original factory form when I bought it. It and I went very fast for the great majority of our time together, on the same 4/10ths of a mile asphalt section. And that section was bent into the shape of an oval.
The story begins in 1972 when I purchased the four door Jet which had been made into an oval track racer and along with it came a black two door Jet Liner which had a 308 Hornet engine (complete with "Twin H Power") stuffed into it! Unfortunately, the Jet Liner had very bad rust issues along with a lot of missing parts and a very shabby interior plus my parent's home didn't have enough parking spaces for me to keep it so I pulled the engine and trans and hauled the rest off to the dump (Yes, even though it was in bad shape, I still regret that move to this day!).
|At right, circa 1973:
The Jet Running alongside a '56 Ford during a main event. The "C" after the #98 indicates that the car ran in the "claimer" class. You could "claim" (buy) any car in this class for $199.00. This was a move to keep the costs down. Luckily for me, no one ever tried to buy the Jet!
The Super Jet had originally been converted into a racer in 1967 and raced for that year only. It was subsequently sold to a second owner who ran it during the 1970 racing season, after which it sat in a garage alongside the Jet Liner until I bought them both. I repainted it, made a few minor modifications and safety updates and started racing it in 1973. This included lettering "It's a Hudson Jet!" on the side as too many people thought it was a Ford! I had a 20 year career in oval track racing at our local speedway building and driving different cars but I always remember the Jet as the most fun car I ever raced. It lived up to Hudson's reputation for excellence in competition and endurance as I finished the year off 6th in the point standings (at one time I was in 4th place). This season included a 3rd place finish in the Championship race on a replacement engine (that only cost me a mere $10.00!) after the regular engine was sidelined with a damaged piston. This very good showing was quite remarkable when you consider that the Jet, with it's tiny 202 cubic inch engine, was running against more powerful and larger overhead valve 6 and V8 powered cars. It handled very well and was extremely reliable; always running at end of the race (something that could not always be said of some of it's fellow competitors!). And, as an added bonus, I actually came out financially ahead (usually totally unheard of in auto racing!) and posted a profit of $150.00 when the season ended!
|Below, circa 1974, the Jet and I charging down the backstretch, keeping two Chevs and a Ford at bay during a heat race.|
For the next year, as Hudsons were getting very scarce here on Vancouver Island, I swapped out the 202 for a '64 Chev 230 cubic inch overhead six and finished 8th in the points standings. The final year, 1975, saw the Jet and I almost win our first main event (the feature race with all cars running) early in the season. We jumped into an early lead and held it until 2 laps from the end when, coming off the first turn, the right rear axle snapped and I spun around and went up on two wheels, just narrowly avoiding a rollover. My fellow competitors managed to avoid the crippled Jet and I scrambled out just in time to see my severed wheel rolling merrily off down the track! I subsequently swapped the stock rearend for a Ford one and finished the season in 10th place. The rear unibody had always been badly rusted and I had had to replace the areas where both rear spring hangers attached. That, plus proposed rule changes that were in the wind for next year's racing season would put the oldest year cars able to be run at 1956 which meant that the Jet would need to be replaced. I sadly had to consign it to the same fate as the Jet Liner. However, I saved a few mementos which included the builder's plate, the trunk emblem, and the failed piston from the original engine. Today they sit in a place of honour in my shop, a fond reminder of the little car that could.....and did!
So, the Hudson Jet has, and always will have, very fond memories for me and sometime in the future (after all my current projects are done!) I would really like to do "one for the road". I think they fit right in with today's "compact" cars. But (in my humble opinion) they are A LOT cooler!
I took a couple photos of my Jet mementos and thought your readers would find one of them especially of interest:
The first is of the builder's plate. The second is the damaged piston from the original engine. Note the large elongated "slot" that has been carved in the piston's side (kind of hard to miss, eh?!). This is truly a testimonial to Hudson endurance in a competition situation!
When I first took to the track with the Jet, my pit crew (which consisted of my Dad and later my younger brother) noticed that when I came into the corners of the oval track and backed off on the throttle there was a small but noticeable puff of smoke from the exhaust.
The engine seemed to be running just fine with no odd sounds or drop in oil pressure, so we just kept our eyes on the engine oil level and I monitored the oil pressure gauge during races. As the season wore on however, the little cloud slowly grew into a larger one and by the time the season-end championship race was only a week away, the by now "ominously large" cloud was accompanied by a loss in power and a definite noise coming from the front cylinders of the motor. Rather than risk engine failure during the most important race of the season, we scouted around and found a suitable replacement engine at one of the local auto wreckers for the very fair sum of only $10.00 - and this included a perfectly good automatic trans as well (which we turned down, thinking that some other Jet owner could make much better use of it than us!). We swapped engines and, just to satisfy our curiosity, I pulled the ailing 202 apart and found the problem. The pistons all had brass "end buttons" mounted in each end of the pins that held the pistons to the connecting rods.|
The buttons were held in place by short shafts, which protruded from their inner surfaces and fit inside the hollow piston pins. I surmised that #1 piston's one button had had it's pin shear off which left it free floating and the violent up and down movement of the piston had, over time, gradually worn the elongated slot in the side of the piston. On it's "journey", it managed to break a section out of each piston ring it came to including the much lower second oil control ring. And it came very close to breaking out through the top of the piston! I have no idea when the pin had sheared off and this condition may have existed for some time, even before the car became a racer - who knows?!"