Dodge Draws Influence From a Fabulous 1950s NASCAR Winner for Their New Small SUV

Fans of the Cars movies will be delighted to learn that the Hornet is back, thanks mainly to Dodge, and we don’t have to wait long. The American automaker is set to release the 2023 Dodge Hornet later this year. Even better, this latest addition to Dodge’s muscle cars is directly inspired by the original Fabulous Hudson Hornet that made NASCAR so thrilling to watch.

The word is out on the new Dodge Hornet

The Fabulous Hudson Hornet, the inspiration for the 2023 Dodge Hornet.
The Fabulous Hudson Hornet | Getty Images

Dodge was proud to announce a new Compact Utility Vehicle (CUV) joining its lineup, known as the Hornet. It’s a hybrid with a 1.3L Turbo engine and an electric motor. There is an estimated 285 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. 

Many of the most desirable features aren’t standard, so if you want the full Hornet experience, you’ll have to pay a little extra. Some features you can upgrade include 20-inch rims, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, semi-automatic parking, a 360-degree surround view camera, a power liftgate, a best-in-class available 13-Speaker+Subwoofer, and a  Harman Kardon Sound System. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, lane support warning, automatic counter-steering, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection.

An exact price and release date aren’t yet available, but you can sign up for updates if you see a 2023 Dodge Hornet in your future.

How Fabulous Hudson Hornet inspired Dodge

According to Automoblog, the Hornet nameplate can be tracked all the way back to the Fabulous Hudson Hornet in 1951. Even though the 2023 Dodge Hornet didn’t do a full remake of the beloved Hudson Hornet, it has become a modern reinterpretation. There is a lot of emphasis on new tech, but the exterior of the Dodge Hornet definitely brings to mind the original, which was such a hit when NASCAR was starting. 

It’s the name which will likely garner Dodge the most attention for the latest model to its lineup. For many who aren’t familiar with NASCAR’s history, the Hornet brand of cars is still well-known thanks partly to the Disney film Cars, in which an old Hornet was one of the main characters.

It wasn’t the Disney film that inspired Dodge. It was the racing roots going back to when NASCAR was a struggling company and the car which took home a considerable number of wins.

The Fabulous Hudson Hornet

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According to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Fabulous Hudson Hornet was one of the main reasons the racing company is so huge today. In the early 1950s, NASCAR struggled to get off the ground. It desperately needed backers, and one of the first to step forwards was the Detroit-based Hudson Motor Car Co. Because of this, Hudsons were very prominent on the tracks of NASCAR.

In 1951, the Hudson Motor Car Co released the original Hornet, and plastered the sides with the “Fabulous Hudson Hornet.” It wasn’t long before the Hornet was wracking up win after win on the track, and the Hornet became a household name. 

1952 was doubtless Hudson’s best year, as Hornets won 27 of 34 races. There were other entertaining stories revolving around the Hornet, such as a Rhesus monkey who rode shotgun in one, named Jocko Flocko. His driver, Tim Flock, won a championship race in 1952.

Even though very few without a keen interest in automotive history remember the Hudson Motor Car Co, it’s actually tied in third place with both Oldsmobile and Toyota on the all-time NASCAR premier series manufacturers’ championship list. This is because Hudson took home titles in 1952, ’53, and ’54.

It all came to an end in 1957 when Hudson shut its doors for good. The good news is that the Hornet now has a new lease on life with Dodge. While it’s unlikely that the Dodge Hornet will hit the tracks of NASCAR, it’s still nice to have a much-beloved car from the past finding a new lease on life.