Hudson Hornet

Cars Culture

OK, so the film version of Jack Kerouac’s epoch making novel On The Road has come and gone and the dust has settled on the hype.

It was a mediocre piece of work, really, the celluloid version: full of domesticated clichés about what it meant in post war America to paddle hard against the flow of the chrome clad boomtime and take to the road in search of nothing in particular.

What sticks out in particular is the strange appeal of the avuncular-looking, low slung Hudson Hornet, much loved by Neal Cassady in the novel and evoked admirably in the movie.

Looking at the Hudson through sixty years of car culture, it’s hard to believe how these lumpen bits of metal were so appealing to racers. They handled well, apparently, with that stepped-down chassis and even in 1951a five litre-odd engine must have punched pretty hard. In the flesh, we reckon, these beasts must have been a striking step forward from the boneshakers of the thirties and forties.