Hudson achieved significant success with its innovative “step-down” models, such as the Hornet, introduced in the post-World War II era. However, their journey to continued triumph was fraught with uncertainties, as demonstrated by the less fortunate fate of the compact Jet, which made its debut in 1953. Regrettably, the Jet struggled to find a substantial market, prompting Hudson’s design guru, Frank Spring, to embark on a collaboration with Carrozzeria Touring in Milan, Italy, in a quest to inject some excitement into the model.
The fruit of their collaboration materialized as the Hudson Italia, a spectacular dream car based on the Jet platform. It boasted a sleek, meticulously handcrafted body, a sporty interior featuring specially designed reclining front bucket seats, and a robust Hudson twin-carbureted inline-six engine, complemented by a three-speed overdrive transmission. The Italia generated the much-needed attention and buzz for Hudson, particularly since the automaker had already merged with Nash-Kelvinator by early 1954, forming American Motors.
Despite its undeniable appeal, the Hudson Italia remained a rare gem in the automotive world. Only a scant 25 Jet-based Italias, plus a solitary prototype, rolled off the production line. With a substantial retail price of $4,800, it’s rumored that Hudson incurred losses on each unit sold.