Trucks & SUVs

Hudson Made Incredible Trucks In the 1940s

Hudson Motor Company of Detroit manufactured some great cars in its day, but it also built some incredible pickup trucks. It was one of three independent auto manufacturers (the other two being Nash and Studebaker) that did. Any company that would name its ¾-ton pickup truck “Big Boy” had to have built some cool trucks, which it did.

Starting in 1929 manufacturing Dover trucks, it also built a nearly identical truck under the Essex brand through 1932. From 1934-1938 Hudson built pickups based on its Terraplane brand of cars. In 1937 Hudson began its own line of trucks that included a sedan delivery, a station wagon, and chassis cab, which was a cab on a bare frame. This allowed low-volume outside body makers to tailor specific commercial bodies for large and small companies.

3/4-Ton “Big Boy” Pickups

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1941 Hudson Pickup Truck

When Hudson debuted its all-new 1941 models it utilized some of those stampings to create its pickups. Both half- and ¾-ton “Big Boy” pickups were built on either a 116- or 128-inch wheelbase chassis. Front ends were Hudson’s independent “Auto-Poise Front Wheel Control” suspension, not your typical I-beam solid-axle affair like so many trucks in the day. Out back conventional leaf springs handled loads. Modern tube shocks were used all around.

Though Hudson pickups used its sedan frame and sheetmetal for the front end and part of the cab, these were not the Ranchero or El Camino of its day. That’s because Hudsons were massive, stout cars. They were built like trucks to the extent that its sedan bones were a perfectly acceptable foundation for building a pickup.

Hudson Cars Supplied Pickup Bodies

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Hudson Pickup Truck

Styling for the 1942-1947 pickups came from Hudson’s Super Six sedan bodies. That meant you got some of the car’s nice features like a 30-hour clock, Zenith radio, Weather-Master heater, deluxe steering wheel, and chrome horn ring. Remember, trucks from this period were pared down to the basics, with virtually no frills inside. 

For power Hudson’s Super Six 212 ci straight-six was built like a battleship. A three-speed manual with column-shift could be ordered with overdrive, which then came with a stump-pulling 4.56:1 rear end ratio. 

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1946 Hudson Pickup Truck

In 1945 after WWII ended Hudson slowly ramped-up car production, followed by pickup trucks. Only the ¾-ton version was offered and the “Big Boy” name was dropped. Production continued into 1947 while Hudson was deep into the development of its revolutionary “step down” unibody design.

End Of Hudson Truck Production

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1947 Hudson Pickup Truck

When the all-new 1948 Hudsons arrived, the pickup was gone. Obviously, the unibody construction did not lend itself well to being converted into a pickup. One would think that Hudson could have extended its truck production for a few more years next to the new passenger car but volume was never going to be very high. 

There was at least one prototype step down Hudson truck that was built, but nothing came from it beyond this one pickup. In all Hudson built around 30,000 trucks over the years. That makes finding one a bit of a search today. But, it is not so obscure that one can’t be acquired for an attainable price if you are interested in adding a Hudson pickup to your collection.