Popular Science, April 1953

Hudson Brings Out Most Powerful Small Car

The following article was provided courtesy of Popular Science, April 1953. pp. 124-126. Francis, Devon.

Weighing only 2,700 pounds, the thrifty 104-horsepower Jet wriggles in and out of traffic.

Ever since the dog days of last summer, certain people in Detroit have been hinting darkly out of the side of their mouths about a new car that would beat anything else in its price class away froma traffic light.

Last month this automobile went on display in dealers' showrooms all over the U.s.

The Hudson Jet (PSM, Feb. '53, p.97) - for that's what it proved to be - is the most powerful car, for its weight and price, made in this country. Each of its 104 horsepower totes only 26 pounds of car.

L-HEAD ENGINE has as high a compression ratio for its type as any in the industry.
Battery discharge and low oil pressure are shown on driver's instrument panel by red lights.
The weight-to-horsepower ratio is even more impressive in the 114-horsepower Super Jet - 23.6 pounds. The Super Jet is the same Jet but it comes equipped with a different cylinder head. a higher compression ratio, twin carburetors and fancier trim.

Here, for purposed of comparison, are the weight-to-horsepower ratios of other American automobiles selling in the low-cost field.

Chevrolet30 lb.Nash Rambler30.6 lb.
Chevrolet Powerglide30.5 lb.Plymouth31.7 lb.
Ford V-830 lb.Studebaker Champion33.6 lb.
Ford 630 lb.Willys (90 hp.)28.4 lb.
Henry J Corsair30 lb.Willys (75 hp.)34 lb.
Henry J Four30 lb.

For a pretty-good-size car, the Jet is light. It weighs 2,700 pounds. That's several hundred pounds less than the Chevrolet, Ford, Plymouth or Studebaker will scale. The Jet does outweigh, however, the Henry J, Rambler and Willys. It's economical - it will get at least 20 miles to the gallon. And it will accelerate from zero to 60 m.p.h. in 14 seconds.

Paring Off the Pounds: The curious in-between weight of the Jet is the result of the target that the engineers of the Hudson Motor Car Co. set for themselves. In these days of rapidly mounting automobile horsepower, Hudson wanted a car of only modest horsepower (for economy) that would sizzle on street and highway. A high horsepower-to-weight ratio was the only answer.

Other qualities were a natural or necessary result. To keep the weight down, they had to lop off pounds by shortening the wheelbase, length, width and overhang. that gave them a car that wriggles through traffic like a scrollsaw blade through soft pine. To keep the speed and acceleration from being a hazard, they had to have a low center of gravity.

To have low weight and yet not jar a man's upper plate from its moorings on a washboard road, they had to have extra-soft suspension and lightning-fast snubbing when the springs rebounded.

HUDSON'S SUPER JET has "stepdown" interior and integral body and frame like company's standard cars.
To pare down the width of the car, they had to trim the seat cushions. That brings down the hip room to a little less than what the average car buyer, spoiled by wide seats, is accustomed to. To put the back-seat passengers between the axles for an easy ride, they had to cut down the leg room in the rear.

But whatever shortcomings the Jet may have are more than offset by its basic design, good engineering, styling and performance. The steering is light. Gear shifting is exceptionally easy. The car is like a car on its feet. The fast snubbing cancels out any tendency to pitch on the short wheelbase.

The Jet is one of the few cars with an advanced-compression engine that won't get indigestion on non-premium gasoline. At 8 to 1, the Super Jet's side-valve engine, as the British more descriptively call the L-head, can be accelerated from a walk in high gear without pinging.

Part of the secret of that is a high-turbulence combustion chamber. The rest is twin carburetors, introduced in Hudson Hornets on the stock-car race tracks, for easier breathing.

Hudson Jet Trunk
GAS FILLER TUBE is in the rear. Usable space in trunk is 44 inches deep by 40 wide and 22 high.
Wrap-around rear window, measuring 63-1/2 by 15-1/2 inches, gives excellent visibility.

Car's Interior Is Eye-Catching: The Jet's interior trim, particularly that of the Super, is luxurious. Fabrics are rich. The area of the rear window is nothing short of magnificent. The instruments are shrouded against windshield reflection at night. And the heater-ventilation controls, reading like a child's primer - "Winter" for cold weather and "summer" for hot weather - don't require an hour's cockpit check-out to understand them.

The retail cost of the "stripped" Jet is right at the level of the Big Three - Ford, Chevy and Plymouth. A "stripped" car isn't as bad as it sounds. It only means a car minus heater, radio and turn signals, and less shiny metal trim.

But if you're going to want a Hydra-Matic transmission (which is available), 10 more horsepower and chrome enough to draw sour-grape comments from your neighbors, the price - as in all cars - begins skyrocketing. Prepare to shell out several hundred dollars more. As a matter of interest, the costliest Jet still won't be as costly as the flossiest of the Big Three.


Model: 4-door sedan.
Engine: 6-cyl. L-head; 104 hp. at 4,000 r.p.m.; compression ratio, 7.5:1; piston displacement, 202; piston travel (in feet per car mile at 20 m.p.h.), 2,470; bore and stroke, 3" by 4-3/4"; crankshaft bearing surgace, 42.77 sq. in.; torque, 158 lb.-ft. at 1,600 r.p.m.
Weight: 2,700 lb; per hp., 26 lb.
Transmission: 3-speed synchromesh; rear-axle ratio 4.1:1 (with hydra-Matic, 3.54:1).
Steering ratio: 20.2:1; radius of turning circle, 18'.
Effective brake-lining area: 132.14
Springs: front, coil; rear, semi-elliptic
Outside dimensions: height, 60" over'all length with bumpers and guards, 180-11/16"; width, 67-1/16"; wheelbase, 104-3/8"; overhang, front 32- 1/8", rear 44-3/16"; tread, front 54", rear 52"
Inside deminsions: seat-cushion width, front and rear 58"; leg room, front 41-7/8", rear 38-1/2"; headroom, front 36-1/2", rear 35-1/2"; seat height, front 13- 1/4", rear 14-3/4"; vertical distance, steering wheel to seat cushion with seat in mid-position, 5-7/8"; front-seat adjustment, horizontal 4", vertical 1/8".
Tire size: 5.90 by 15.

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