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Saturday, January 29, 2011

1959 Studebaker Lark

This lovely hardtop is the 1959 Lark by Studebaker.
Shown in Regal trim, it listed for $2,947 f.o.b. Hamilton
 and weighed in at 3,042 pounds.

Studebaker had long been part of the domestic automotive scene by the time the Lark appeared on Canada's highways and byways in the fall of 1958. The predecessor E-M-F and Flanders cars were built in Windsor, Ontario starting in 1910. That company was taken over by Studebaker in 1912 and the latter grew to be one of the most popular cars in the country.

Big and fast, the Studebaker was a favourite of both rum runners and the police during the American prohibition years. The factory closed in 1936 when it became cheaper to build cars in the United States and export them to Canada than it was to build them here. Plans were under way to reopen a factory in 1939 thanks to the runaway success of the inexpensive Studebaker Champion but our 1939 entry into World War Two put those plans on hold for six long years until victory came and the world was at peace once again.

Listing for $3,164 with the V-8 engine, 
the most expensive Lark in the lineup 
was the Regal two-door station wagon. 
It rode on a 113-inch wheelbase.

Proclaiming a new dimension in motoring by Studebaker, the company’s 1958 annual report was jubilant with the company’s success. “The new Lark fulfills our decision to concentrate our energies in the rapidly expanding smaller car field—and tailor our products to a demonstrated consumer demand for a convenience-sized automobile.”

The car that took shape under stylist Duncan McCrea was certainly ingenious even if the basic envelope had been in use since the 1953 models bowed. With no money for a ground-up package, the restyle was nothing less than stunning. A compact-sized car emerged, built around the existing frame. This was achieved by cutting eight inches out of the part of the perimeter where the interior was cradled by the frame. A reporter wrote that the Lark was “a tidy 108.5-inch automobile, shorn of excessive ornamentation and engineered for functional value. Studebaker lauds the Lark as ‘the common sense car’ because of its initial low cost its economy of operation and practical design.”

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Larks began rolling out the doors of the Hamilton, Ontario plant in October of 1958. Production was set at a modest 32 cars a day. Reports said the 600 Studebaker craftsmen in Hamilton “are proud of their product. The Lark is unlike any other car because its proportions and performance are ideally suited to today’s driving conditions. The Lark has all the space the …motorist demands for driving comfort, seating six adults and accommodating their luggage in a vacation-size trunk. The Lark runs with any car and adds the advantage of economy. Eliminated are useless overhang, excess bulk and wasteful “dead “ weight.” 

The “Econ-O-Miler” Taxicab was a special 
Lark offered in 1959 by Studebaker-Packard of 
Canada Limited. 

The stark truth was that Lark was Studebaker’s last hope to stay in business. Nervous management was anxious about its acceptance by the public. The company’s entire future was pinned on the Lark's success. They needn’t have worried, Lark turned out to be the right car, in the right place, at the right time. Introduced during a business recession, those few consumers who were buying new cars were headed straight for small, thrifty vehicles. Many of them were European. One out of every five cars sold in Canada during calendar year 1958 came from the UK, West Germany, France, Sweden or Italy. The other practical small car choice was, of course, the stylish Rambler by the newly minted American Motors of Canada Limited. The Lark by Studebaker was a step up from the imports, took on Rambler toe-to-toe and turned out to be a smash hit for the old-line, independent automaker.

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“Easy to park, effortless to handle, fun to drive; in every respect, the Lark is she car that meets the needs and tastes of our times,” bragged advertising and the annual report threw roses to the marketing team, too. “The appeal of the Lark by Studebaker has perhaps been best described by the phrase in our advertising, ‘Smart, sensible, solid, smooth, spirited,’ and the trend toward this type of automotive transportation is the most revolutionary occurrence in the…auto market in many years.”

The Lark four-door sedan sold for $2,441 with a
six-cylinder engine and $2,640 with Studebaker’s
259-cubic inch V-8 mill stuffed under the hood.

With its bargain $2,355 price tag, the Lark 6 by 
Studebaker in Deluxe trim was the 
cheapest set of  
wheels Hamilton could offer in 1959.

Instrument panel of the 1959 Lark featured a 
padded dash overlay in Regal models. 
All Larks carried a centrally located glove box.

Copyright James C. Mays 2007 
All rights reserved.
Advertising billed the cars as “haughty and handsome” and “jewel-like.” Folks liked them immensely. In the first two months of the 1959 calendar year, workers built 4,108 cars. January retail sales were the company’s best since 1951.  In March of 1959, management was obliged to increase production by 50 percent to keep up with demand. With the move to 48 cars a day, a hundred new men had to be hired to do the job.

Interiors were the largest in the compact class, seating six with ease. They were said to be “inviting” as well as extremely comfortable. Special attention was drawn to the extra seat support provided for the small of the back and under the thighs. Stealing a page from Rambler, reclining seats could be ordered for “the ultimate in motoring comfort.” 

Studebaker boasted it was the friendliest family car in town and that the entire family would love it. Plenty of families did. Studebaker-Packard Canada Limited ranked 13th for calendar year 1959 with a total of 7,686 sales—and that figure included the Silver and Golden Hawk sports cars as well. Factory reports show 7,294 cars were built in the Hamilton facility for the 1959 model year. The company further strengthened its position by selling 189 acres of unused industrial-zoned land it owned on Guelph Line Road near the QEW in Hamilton. That property sale was a good thing because competition stiffened considerably with new compact entries from GM. Ford and Chrysler. Workers would only build 6,446 Larks for the 1960 model year.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1973 Ford Maverick

The 1973 Ford Maverick four-door sedan rode a wheelbase 
stretched  by 152 millimetres (six inches). With a six-cylinder engine the Maverick 
sold for $2,739 in Canada. 

North America’s compact car wars heated up considerably for the 1970 selling season as American Motors and Ford unleashed the next generation of domestically built small cars. Ford would replace the venerable Falcon in the North American market with its compact Maverick. The western-themed name was chosen to reflect on and hopefully cash in on the company's runaway success with Mustang

American Motors introduced the Hornet for the 1970 

selling season. Its target competition was Ford's new 
compact Maverick and a legion of imports.

American Motors dropped a cool $40 million for the Rambler's replacement--the car that started the compact craze in 1950. Even the Rambler name disappeared as the last of the independent automakers updated its stodgy image. Marketing dipped into the corporate name bin to borrow the Hornet name from the Hudson side of the AMC family as it launched its “little rich car”.

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Ford's Maverick bowed to the public as being “simply wonderful and wonderfully simple.” This time around the domestic automakers were not doing battle against each other as much as they were poised to fight imports.  General Motors fielded its faithful Chevrolet Nova  and would add its all-new Vega in 1971. Chrysler would stand firm with its tried-and-true Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart offerings. 

Maverick publicity made good use of humour; the 

compact was billed as 'running competition around the herd
of foreign cars' and promised to 'steer clear' of costly prices
and upkeep.

Built in Ford’s St. Thomas, Ontario facility, Maverick was launched on April 17, 1969—the fifth anniversary of the wildly successful Mustang. Maverick carefully followed the successful trail blazed for the compact Ford Falcon a decade earlier. Maverick was perky and pert. 

Consumers liked the long hood, short rear deck fastback styling and bought 19,104 of them in calendar year 1969—all of them being 1970 models. Despite its mid-year entry, Maverick took honours as the 11th best selling nameplate in the country.  Production of Mavericks accounted for 17.7 percent of all the cars built by Ford of Canada that year. Maverick sales were pure gravy when added to the 11,367 Ford Cortinas imported from the UK and 6,601 Ford Falcons that also went home with buyers. 

The imported Ford Cortina was popular with Canadians.

The story was much the same in 1970.  The venerable Falcon was finally phased out and Maverick stood alone in its place. Production hit 178,825 units and Mavericks were being shipped to the US as fast as the wranglers could lasso the newborn Fords, round them up and load the frisky critters into the CN car carriers waiting at the factory rail siding. Domestic sales for the Maverick and Falcon models hit 23,053 units for the model year, knocking out the full-sized Dodge lineup to claim eighth place in national sales. British-sourced Ford Cortinas did their part by snagging 10,111 sales, too.

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1971 Chevrolet Vega came in four versions. The Notchback
Coupe is shown.

When the 1971 selling season opened all eyes were on the new kids in the corral. The sharp looking Chevrolet Vega would take 15th place and the innocent, chubby-cheeked Ford Pinto would finish in 12th place. With that kind of competition it was no surprise that Maverick dropped in sales. It settled in at 21st place with 13,606 sales but the pot was sweetened with 11,616 sales of the cloned Mercury Comet.
1971 Mercury Comet was a kissin' cousin to the Ford Maverick.

Combined sales gave the two-birds-one-stone compact from St. Thomas a satisfying eighth place on the chart right behind the Plymouth Valiant. Late entry of the newest Ford Cortina from Britain saw a sales drop to 6,867 units.

Labour troubles at Ford in the UK caused Cortina sales to drop sharply in Canada in 1971.

Small cars were hotter than an egg fried on a Saskatoon sidewalk in July. The big Canada-wide winner for 1971 was Toyota in second place with 50,080 sales—only 192 units less than first place full-sized Chevrolet!  Datsun placed fourth with 45,100 sales, eclipsing Volkswagen in the Number Five spot with 30,435 sales to its credit. Plymouth Valiant was Number Seven and its Dodge Dart kin was Number Nine.

For 1972, the Ford Maverick was given a 2 768-millimetre (109-inch) wheelbased four-door sedan. It was one of Ford’s best ideas in a long time. Maverick rebounded to take 15,207 sales. Mercury’s Comet brought 13,747 more while the smartly styled Ford Cortina added another 10,028 to the total. The subcompact Ford Pinto grabbed 22,556 sales. The boys in Oakville were on a roll.

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When the doors opened for the 1973 selling season, the Maverick was in its fourth year without a major restyle. Fans noted the flatter, energy-absorbing front safety bumper. Not noticeable were the steel girders welded into the doors for safety. The Grabber option package was new that year, available with a six- or eight-cylinder mill under the hood. 

The Grabber package was new for the 1973 Ford Maverick. 
It listed for $2,806 with the six-cylinder engine and $$2,955 
with the V-8 stuffed under the hood.

Solidly established in the market, Maverick wordsmiths could do little more than announce the obvious--the car was “building on success.” Content with refinements, the compact boasted the latest in safety features, the brightest colours and latest interior fabrics.  The men of Maverick tripped over themselves to offer a fresh grille treatment that featured new parking lamps. The bright drip rail and wheel lip mouldings got attention, as did the now colour-keyed carpeting and the two-spoke steering wheel. Seats were blessed with revamped padding, and ticker backs. Soundproofing was upgraded. Door handles were improved. Attention to detail was proof that the company was in harmony with the buying public.

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Instrument panel of the 1973 Ford Maverick was simple.
Note the Euro-style under-the-dash parcel shelf. 

To dress up Maverick in its best Sunday-go-to-meeting finery, Ford stylists dreamt up the Luxury D├ęcor Option with “glove-soft" all vinyl trim, reclining front seats, plush cut-pile carpets, colour-keyed wheel covers and an Odense grained vinyl roof in Black, White or Green and Orange for the Grabber. 
The 1973 Ford Maverick offered upscale 

cloth and vinyl upholstery or extra-cost all-vinyl 
seating with luxurious pleats.

The list of  Maverick options was practically as long as the Trans-Canada Highway. Included were the SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic transmission, SelectAire conditioner, tinted glass and power steering. There was a string of radios, including an AM-FM stereo unit. Dress items extended to metallic glow paints, a spare tire lock, a centre-mounted, lockable storage Consolette with an electric clock, a leather-wrapped deluxe steering wheel, a 4-litre (250 CID) six or the 5-litre (302 CID) V-8 engines, heavy duty suspension, and rubber bumper guards, to name but a few.

  The least expensive Ford Maverick in 1973 carried a 
sticker price of $2,603 f.o.b. Oakville, Ontario.

Oakville would end the year in pretty good shape. Total sales for the Blue Oval added up to 225,838 units—some 20,000 more than 1972. Maverick would take 14th place in domestic sales with 22,599 units delivered. Mercury Comet would park itself in the 18th spot with 20,294 sales and in its final year in Canada, the British-sourced Ford Cortina added 6,619 sales. 

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  Copyright James C. Mays 2007 All rights reserved.

Monday, January 24, 2011

1976 Peugeot 504

Truly one of the automotive industry’s pioneers, it was in 1889 that French bicycle maker Peugeot built its first horseless carriages. The initial offerings were steam-powered three-wheelers. Peugeot holds a place in automotive history for being the first company to sell an automobile to an individual. By 1907 the company was well established as a leader of automobiles in the four-wheeled, gasoline format. That was also the first year that the famed lion appeared on Peugeot products.

Jules Goux piloted a 1913 Peugeot to victory at the
Indianapolis 500.
In the early days, carmakers earned their reputations on the race circuit.  Management at Peugeot were relentless in seeking publicity for their product. Europe wasn’t big enough for the cocky company as it endeavoured to showcase its fleet automobiles. A Peugeot took the checkered flag at the Indianapolis 500 in 1913, 1916 and 1919.  Those wins didn’t hurt sales one bit on either side of the Atlantic. 

The company survived the Dirty Thirties by offering products with avant-garde aerodynamic styling. It even went so far as to field a car with an electrically retractable top. 

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15,300 Peugeot DMA two-tonne trucks
 were delivered to the Third Reich
during World War Two.

During World War Two, the Peugeot factories were seized by the Nazis. Trucks and vans were built for the Third Reich. Arial bombing of the plants by the Allies was frequent and damage was heavy. After France was freed from the Nazis in 1945, Peugeot was able to return to civilian manufacture of passenger cars in 1948. 

It appears that Peugeot began to export cars into Canada around 1960. Canada Track & Traffic lists the prices for Peugeot that year.  The economical 403 family, comprised of the four-door sedan, the sliding roof sedan, the convertible, the six- and eight-passenger station wagon, were in the same price range as the compact Rambler, Chevrolet Corvair and the Studebaker Lark 6. 

The French cars did not sell in large enough numbers to warrant a domestic breakout in 1960 and Peugeot’s sales are lumped in with the 7,476 "Other Imports" listed in Canadian Automotive Trade magazine’s 1960 annual total. 

A year later. a Peugeot owned by a private citizen ran the gruelling Canadawide Shell 4000-mile Rally from Montreal to Vancouver in seven days. Sales had grown sufficiently that Peugeot now rated its own column in Canadian Automotive Trade. The periodical reported sales of 1,628 units. That tally is followed by 954 units in 1962; 581 units in 1963 and delivery of 707 units in 1964. The low figures reflected stiff new tariffs imposed by Ottawa on foreign automakers as the Diefenbaker government took steps to protect the domestic automobile industry.

This 1965 Peugeot advert targets the
 Canadian market.
Fierce rivals on home turf, Renault and Peugeot joined forces in Canada. In 1965 the two automakers began to assemble cars for the Canadian market in St. Bruno, Quebec. Now considered domestic players, sales were no longer hampered by import taxes. Renault and Peugeot were incorporated under the auspices of a provincial crown corporation using the acronym SOMA (Societe Montage Automobile). Sales offices for Peugeot were located in  Ville-St-Laurent, Quebec and in Don Mills, Ontario. Having a domestic presence helped Peugeot to more than double its sales Canadawide as units delivered reached 1,405 in 1965 and rose again to 1,655 units in 1966.

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A very sleek and slippery 504 bowed for the 1967 season. This was a large car, at least by European standards. The vehicle rode on a 2 743 millimetre (108-inch) wheelbase, putting it squarly in the North American industry’s compact category. The look of the Puegeot was one of a prestigious vehicle. Dedicated consumers had come to expect a high quality of fit and finish; that was certainly part of the Peugeot tradition. 

The 1967 Peugeot 504 boasted sleek lines.
The newest Peugeot incarnation promised to be more powerful, more spacious and even more comfortable than its predecessor. It did not disappoint. The 504 boasted an elegantly lined body built with monocoque construction. The sensuous Peugeot featured fully independent suspension, anti-roll bars front and rear, a suspended hypoid real axle, trailing arms and four-wheel disc brakes

The new styling prompted Canadians to pull into Peugeot dealers' showrooms and sign on the dotted line, Dramatic looks no doubt contributed to the modest rise in sales that reached 1,810 units for 1967; an even better finish of 1,947 units in 1968 and up to 2,022 units delivered in 1969.  Calendar year sales for 1970 reached 2,270 units. In 1971 the final figure of 2,254 units made Peugeot number 56 in domestic sales—sandwiched between AMC’s Matador and AMC’s Gremlin.  Peugeot's sales were off ever so slightly to 2,196 units in 1972. 

 Peugeot was a steady if quiet seller. The GL
Sedan listed for $6,795 in 1976.
The 1976 Peugeot station wagon weighed in at 1 446 kilos (3,190 pounds) for the gasoline model and 1 456 kilos  (3,210 pounds) for the diesel version.

Under the hood of this Peugeot is the 2.2-litre,
four-cylinder gasoline engine, boasting 

a top speed  of  168 kilometres (105 miles) per hour and 
a cruising speed of 136 kilomtres (85 miles) per hour.

The SOMA factory closed its doors in January of 1973 and Peugeot sales dropped to 1,029 units delivered. Sales would inch upward to 1,189 units a year later and though it was only Number 70 in the nameplate sales, Peugeot rose to 1,630 units in calendar year 1975.

The Peugeot gasoline engine for 1976 measured two litres (120 cubic inches) in displacement and generated 92 horsepower. The Diesel mill had a 2.2-litre (128.8-cubic inch) displacement and rated 72 horsepower. 

Seats lay flat in the 1976 Peugeot.
Peugeot engineers promised consumers that the 504 had luxurious comfort, deluxe functionalism, durability and security built into it. The cabin boasted a most spacious interior; wall-to-wall carpeting; fully reclining bucket seats; contoured rear seats with a retractable centre armrest, a standard sunroof and tinted glass. Safety features included front and rear anti-sway bars; low centre of gravity, rack and pinion steering; disc brakes on all four wheels; Michelin XAS radial tires and four-wheel independent suspension. Durability was derived from monocoque construction; stainless steel trim; primer coat and rust proofing designed to meet Canada’s extreme climatic conditions and engine stamina proven in races and rallies.

 Instrument panel of the 1976 Peugeot was extremely functional.

For 1976 selling season Peugeot dealers offered the 504 GL Sedan for $6,795. For an extra $430 one could order the automatic transmission. The fancier 504 SL Sedan listed for $7,685 with the manual shift and for that extra $430 the automatic transmission became part of the deal.

 The 504 Diesel Sedan listed for $8,370 and the Diesel-powered wagon carried a price tag of $8,880. Peugeot would finish the calendar 1976 year with sales of 1,225 units. 

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Copyright James C. Mays 2007
All rights reserved.

1954 Hudson Jet

The 1954 Hudson Jet was Hudson's entry into the compact field.

The honour of introducing the modern compact car to the North American market fell to the independent automakers.  Nash was ready in 1948, but wisely delayed introduction of its 2 540-millimetre (100-inch) wheelbase entry until March 15th, 1950 in order to take advantage of pent-up post-war consumer demands for any new car. 

The successful 1950 Nash Rambler inspired Hudson's 
management to create a compact of its own.
 Rambler debuted as a snazzy station wagon and an adorable convertible. Complete with white-walled tires, radio, heater and leather-trimmed seats, the snazzy little Nash listed for only $7 more than a stripped, base-priced Chevrolet.

Kaiser-Frazer's Henry J was shunned by Canadian consumers.

Hard on the heels of the Nash Rambler's entry into the compact market was the Henry J from upstart Kaiser-Frazer.  While the Henry J had been unveiled before the Nash Rambler, production problems prevented it from reaching dealers. 

At Kaiser-Fraser, the corporate philosophy regarding compact cars was the exact opposite of the thinking at Nash. In the time-honoured tradition of Henry Ford and his very basic Model T, K-F's little Henry J was offered as a bare-bones vehicle with very limited optional equipment. Canadians didn't care much for the car or the philosophy behind its production. 

Sales figures for Henry J were lumped in with Kaiser for 1952. Records show that 1,876 units were sold domestically throughout the Dominion of Canada in the 1952 calendar year.

The imported 1952 Willys Aero was beautiful but saw few
buyers in  Canada because of its hefty price tag.

Pioneer automaker Willys-Overland re-entered the passenger car business in 1952. The company had been busy building the versitile Jeep for the military. After World War Two, designer Brooks Stevens was called upon to create Jeep variants for civilian use. Willys then  launched a quartet of sleek Aero sedans. The compact beauty was imported from Toledo, Ohio. With a hefty price tag of $2,542 for the base Willys Aero Wing, first year sales in Canada came to only 255 units for the  Willys.

Hudson Jet

Last but not least, Hudson intended to recapture market share for itself with the 1953 introduction of its compact Jet.  Dealers had long clamoured for a small car, complaining that the company was missing the boat as the only independent without a presence in the compact field.  Company president A. E. Barit decided to tool up a pint-sized companion for the big Hudson.  

New for the 1954 selling season was the Hudson Jet  Family Club Sedan. Like other Jets, the two-door model rode on a 105-inch wheelbase. It listed for $2,365.
Frank Spring was the highly talented in-house stylist for Hudson.  He had his hands full trying to create an attractive car and satisfy the peculiar idiosyncrasies of Hudson's president.  Barit originally ordered a vehicle similar to the Fiat 1400. When he saw it, Barit didn’t like the result. 

The Fiat 1400 was Hudson's benchmark. A 1952 model is seen here.

The president personally ordered higher fender lines, beltlines and rooflines to accommodate chair-like seats in which passengers would sit up straight and tall.  The small rear window was redesigned and given wrap-around glass, similar to that seen on the 1952 Ford.  Barit then fell in love with Oldsmobile’s fuselage-like taillights and ordered similar affairs be welded onto the Jet's body.

The 1954 Hudson Jet Liner two-door sedan listed for $2,635. It included many refinements  including oodles of extra chrome trim andfull wheel covers.
The production version of the Hudson Jet only faintly resembled its larger kin. It was taller and much narrower than the big Hudsons and somehow managed to miss completely the low-slung Step-down look for which Hudson had become so famous. Over-engineered, somewhat vague in styling and dreadfully over-priced, at $2,392 plus taxes, the Jet simply didn’t fly. Although it cost $552 less than a full-sized Hudson Wasp, the Jet’s price tag rang in at more than $300 more than a full-sized Chevrolet and more than $200 more than a Ford. 

Pricing was a headache and so were the seemingly endless production delays. Shown to the public in the fall of ’52 with the rest of the Hudson lineup, production problems, parts shortages and labour troubles kept the half-pint Hudsons out of dealer’s showrooms until March 13th.  

On top of all those troubles were strict manufacturing and materiel restrictions placed on all the automakers by Ottawa and Washington as a result of the police action on the Korean Peninsula.

When Hudson's junior Jets finally began to roll out the factory doors, many potential customers passed, preferring to buy a small, more stylish looking car from Nash or Willys-Overland. Aside from domestic competition, the Jet also had to do battle with British Ford offerings as well as GM’s captive Vauxhall import. Then there was Austin, Volkswagen, Hillman and Morris to contend with. Worst of all for the Jet, many Hudson dealers throughout the Dominion were already twinned with British automakers Hillman or Austin.

If style was the Jet’s weak point, power certainly was not. The Jet’s engine was as powerful as Labrador Falls.  It boasted an all-new, six-cylinder L-head, sharing its bore and stroke with the now discontinued Hudson Eight.  Ranging from 104 to 114 horsepower, test Jets were impressive, clocked in excess of  160 kilometres (100 miles per hour [ancient Canadian units of velocity]).  

Billed as the ‘wonder car in the low-price field’ the small Hudson was offered in two series, the standard Jet and the Super Jet.  An upscale two-door Club Sedan was available in the more costly line. 

Rear legroom in the Hudson Jet was increased for 1954. The Salon Lounge interior was offered in a combination
 of white pleated vinyl seats trimmed in red, green or blue.

With its unique dimensions, the Salon Lounge interior should have been absolutely cavernous but the floor didn’t appear to be step-down in design and passengers complained of being cramped in the back seat.  The instrument panel was superbly crafted: a long wide brightwork band ran the width and housed controls, crowned by a domed, white numerals-on-black-faced speedometer.  Hudson had invented idiot lights in ‘30s and in 1953, they were touted as Teleflash signals. Automatic transmission was an option; something one couldn’t get on a Willys or a Henry J.  The gas pedal was moulded in the traditional Hudson triangle, lest one should ever forget the brand.

The 1954 Hudson Super Jet four-door sedan sold for $2,516. 

Women were targeted as potential owners.  Ad copy waxed absolutely lyrical.  “When a woman meets this lovely jewel of a car, it’s love at first sight!  For if ever there was luxury, smartness modern styling built into a car—it is in the new Hudson Super Jet.  And if ever there was a car easy to park, to handle to use in a lady’s never ending day, it is this compact economical Hudson Super Jet.  For lugging the youngsters to school, for shopping, for social calls for meeting husband at the railroad station—in fact, for any feminine need, nothing could be so desirable as this brilliant new kind of car!” 

Complete with snazzy continental spare, the 1954 Hudson  Jet Liner four-door sedan was the most expensive model in Hudson’s compact family with its $2,649 price tag.
Complete with continental spare, the 1954 Hudson Jet Liner four-door sedan was the most expensive model in Hudson’s compact family. It carried a $2,649 price tag.Workers built only base model, four-door Jets in the Tilbury, Ontario plant; all other Hudsons--large and small--were imported. Records show that Jet assembly began on March 2, 1953 and a total of 918 domestically assembled units rolled off the lines during the abbreviated 1953 model year. 

While Hudson pitched the Jet as a police car, there were few buyers.

The Canadawide unveiling of the 1954 Hudsons, including the Jet, took place on October 2, 1953. The 251 dealers welcomed the Jet back with open arms, in hopes that it would bolster sagging sales. Those hopes were quickly dashed. 

Hudson sales plummeted to 1,061 deliveries for 1953 from 1,901units the previous calendar year. There does appear to be a discrepancy between reported sales and new car registrations, however. Records indicate that 1,947 new Hudsons were registered in calendar year 1953, up from 1,430 new Hudson registrations in 1952. Figures may be in dispute but there is no dispute whatsoever that Hudson’s highest market penetration was in Prince Edward Island. 

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Domestic Jet production for the 1954 model year in the Tilbury, Ontario assembly plant began in November of 1953. In May of 1954, it was announced that Hudson had merged with Nash-Kelvinator. Since Hudson's compact car competed directly against the highly popular Nash Rambler, the Jet was permanently grounded on July 19, when the last Hudson Jet rolled out the doors of the Tilbury plant. 

Only 650 compact Hudsons had been built during the 1954 model year. Hudson itself was on life support; the grand marque would be laid to rest at the end of the 1957 model year.

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 Copyright James C. Mays 2005
All rights reserved.