Written by independent automotive journalist David Neyens
Renowned from inception in 1909 for durability, innovation and quality, Detroit’s Hudson Motor Car Company scored a major coup with the late-1947 introduction of its brilliant new “Step Down” models. Launched while Chrysler, Ford and GM were still producing barely warmed-over prewar cars, the sleek new Hudsons revolutionized automobile design in one stroke with “Monobilt” unibody construction and offered unrivaled passenger comfort with floors placed low within the frame rails. Another significant benefit of the radical new design was an uncommonly low center of gravity, making the new Hudson models America’s best-handling vehicles. Domination on the wildly popular NASCAR stock-car racing circuit followed by 1951, with the new Hornet 6 utterly dominating the V8-powered opponents fielded by “Big Three” teams.
Covering a wider market with further developments of the “Step Down” lines, Hudson offered the lower-cost, shorter-wheelbase Pacemaker 6 by 1950, with the upmarket Wasp 6 trim level available in late 1951. Retaining all “Step Down” virtues in a lighter, nimbler package, the Wasp exemplified the versatility of Hudson’s unique, industry-leading basic design. Despite the successes of the early 1950s, Hudson’s production levels never matched those of its far-larger competitors and capital was lacking. Ultimately, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator in 1954 to form American Motors, itself acquired by Chrysler Corporation in 1987.
All surviving “Step Down” Hudsons are enthusiastically owned, shown and enjoyed nationwide by legions of fierce marque loyalists. However, few, if any, demonstrate the design’s sheer genius as clearly as this stunning, full-custom build. Celebrating its rich heritage, this multiple-award-winning 1951 Hudson Wasp is the product of a meticulously detailed restoration and build performed by Kenny’s Rod Shop (KRS) of Boise, Idaho. Based on a KRS-built custom frame, this classic Hudson delivers modern handling and roadholding with Fox front coilovers plus RideTech Shockwave air shocks and a custom 4-link setup to the rear, with anchor-like stopping via Wilwood disc brakes mounting 13-inch rotors at all four corners.
Body modifications include shaved trim and hardware for an exceptionally clean look, plus subtly reshaped and precisely fitted body panels. Other choice custom tweaks include twin driving lights fitted into the smoothed front bumper, modified headlight rings, ’37 Ford taillights and flush-mounted rear-fender skirts accentuating the Hudson’s fabulous bodylines. The demanding, mile-deep black paint finish was applied by Shawn McNally of Regenerated Rides in Nampa, Idaho, beautifully enhanced by Cerakote Bronze ceramic coating applied to the grille, bumpers, engine components and captivating Schott billet wheels.
This unique Hudson stays true to its corporate lineage with a 2004 Dodge Viper V10 engine mounting an aluminum Hogan intake and big-bore throttle body. Free-flowing tubular headers route the spent combustion gases to a KRS-fabricated exhaust system feeding twin outlets exiting beneath the rear bumper. A Lokar-shifted 6-speed manual transmission delivers the considerable Viper V10 power to a 3.89:1 Ford 9-inch rear axle. Finishes and details applied to the mighty V10 powerplant and surrounding engine compartment are show-quality throughout and consistent with the entirety of the vehicle.
The luxurious, full-custom interior compartment is loaded with fine details, including supportive Chrysler 300 bucket seats and rich brown leather and gray Alcantara upholstery from Interior Revolutions. Vintage-appearing storage cases replace the rear seat and very nicely replicate old-time fitted luggage pieces, with the theme carried through to the matching trunk and long-range 28-gallon custom fuel tank. Atop the dash is a ’55 Hudson gauge cluster mounting gorgeous 1950s-themed Classic Instruments gauges, with the driver facing a late-model Corvette steering column and steering wheel. A custom console and fully upholstered rear-wheel tubs add uncanny elegance. A Restomod Air climate control system delivers year-round cruising comfort, and a Kenwood audio system provides additional entertainment on demand.
Following completion, the Hudson created a sensation everywhere it appeared, earning multiple honors in 2019, including a Top 5 Pick at the Goodguys Pleasanton, California, show, plus selection as a Custom Rod of the Year Finalist at the Loveland, Colorado, Goodguys event. The same year, at Reno, Nevada’s Hot August Nights festivities, the Hudson took Best of Show at the Atlantis Casino Resort and was also inducted into the Gold Cup Award Top 5 grouping. Many online articles and a video fully document the no-holds-barred build, this stunning full-custom 1951 Hudson Wasp, which was also featured by Hot Rod magazine in 2020.
See this early headline consignment at the upcoming Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction yourself at WestWorld, January 21-29, 2023. Be sure to register to bid today for your chance to experience all the auction has to offer and bring home this totally unique interpretation of Hudson’s greatness.