Vintage Motor Cars at Amelia Island
11 March 2006
1953 Hudson Hornet Twin H-Power Sedan
To be auctioned on Saturday, March 11, 2006
Sold for $110,000
- Chassis no. 7C245006
Est. 240hp 308 cu. in. L-head inline six-cylinder 7X race engine, three-speed with overdrive Dragfast shifter, independent front with alloy coil springs and semi-elliptic leaf springs and four-wheel servo-action hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 124"
History in the Making
Historians have often credited the “step down” Hudsons, introduced in 1948, with leading the postwar styling drive towards future innovation. Understated and sleek, they had been heavily influenced by the popularity of aviation with the public. Aerodynamic and handling advantages of the lowered and streamline step down Hornet were quickly discovered and subsequently proven on the racetrack.
In the 1950s stock cars were really stock cars, just as you could buy from your friendly neighborhood dealer. No special equipment that was not a standard option could be used. In the first half of the 1950s the Hudson Hornet completely dominated stock car racing. It moved like a bandit, was a tough as a rhinoceros, and handled as deftly as a cowboy’s pony with the surefooted agility of a mountain goat. The Hudson Hornet had a long stroke, in-line side valve (L-head) six that just about blew the doors off of the push-rod V8 competition that had up to as much as 100 more cubic inches displacement at times. Unheard of to this day, the mighty Hornet dominated racing in 1952 finishing first in 47 AAA and NASCAR events, raking in 36 victories in 42 starts. By September 7, 1953 the Hudson marque had collected 46 victories. Despite this, the true ‘sting’ of the Hornet came from the powerful 7X racing engine introduced in 1953.
Developed by Marshall Teague and Hudson engineer Vince Piggins, the big-six had a bigger bore, bigger valves, relieved and polished combustion chambers, high compression head, high performance cam, split dual exhausts and “Twin H-Power” carburetors and manifold. This combination boosted the big straight six up to 220 gross horsepower, a jump of 75 horses over the showroom-stock figure of 145. Torque was abundant peaking at 278 pound feet. Other “Severe Duty” factory Hudson parts included reinforced wheels and heavy-duty suspension, brakes and axle components. All these “stock” components made the Hornet nearly untouchable on the track.
Famed drivers such as Marshall Teague, Herb Thomas, Dick Rathman, Fonty and Tim Flock, Jack McGrath, Frank Mundy and Lou Figaro were part of the Hudson race team. Together they accounted for 13 wins in 1951, 49 in 1952 and 46 in 1953. No other car of the time could match the Hudson’s bulletproof construction, low center of gravity, good handling, and factory support – the results speak for themselves.
With the AAA’s abandonment of racing in 1955, many marks set by the racing Hornets remain today. Furthermore, its victories in ensuing amateur contests raised eyebrows as well. Such is the case with the car affectionately known as the “The Satan of Morimar” – a story so good one has to read, see and drive the car to fully appreciate its humble beginnings and rise to legend. All those who have heard the story have always appreciated the two-owner from new Satan of Morimar Hudson, it was driven as it was designed and received sometimes unwanted attention by stinging its competition for over half a century.
They Call Him “Satan of Morimar”
The story begins in late 1955, involving a broadside collision between a 1952 Commodore and another car driven by a thoroughly drunken woman. Too severely damaged to repair, the Commodore was scrapped leaving its owner in need of new wheels. Unable to buy a new Hudson, regarding the A.M. Hudson as a disappointing replacement, and disgusted with the tail finned sheet-metal monsters with mash potato suspension that were coming out of Detroit, it was decided that the Commodore would be replaced with a Jaguar.
Delivery on a Jaguar proved quite a challenge and frustration mounted when a 1953 Hudson Hornet Sedan was spotted in a used car lot. The Hornet was in just about period condition still complete with the dark blue solid genuine leather upholstery and overdrive transmission. A quick decision was made to purchase the Hornet for use in competition and for long distance driving. With the money saved not buying the Jaguar, a Volkswagen was purchased for city use. At the time it never occurred to the Hudson’s second owner that it would ever become a collector car.
Disappointed in the original color, a dark metal-flake blue was laid down in 27 coats to match the interior, complemented by metallic gold below the belt line. Seeing no reason why only the “big three” should have chromed engines, the 7X engine was chromed. Louvers were cut in the hood to expedite more cool air to the carburetors while four “moon” style disk hubcaps were installed, as was a driver’s side spotlight.
Aside from the cosmetic customization it was decided to unleash the full potential of the Hornet’s straight six. Jack Clifford founder of Hudson Performance Products and later Clifford Performance Products, re-worked the engine putting in an extensive list of go-fast upgrades from the Clifford Performance Products catalog. A floor mounted Dragfast Shifter was installed to manage the modified engine and the wet clutch and required a section of the front seat to be cutaway to accommodate its long throw.
What had started out as simple used car turned into something very special – a car that had become something dark, pitiless and merciless. A name had to be chosen for this wild custom Hornet; while many suggestions were appropriate, names like Blue Devil, Blue Demon, Mephistopheles… Satan of Morimar seemed to be a natural choice.
‘Satan’ has earned numerous competition awards including two show awards and in spite of its customizing, a second and a third to boot. However, the car was built to perform and has done so, being regularly driven in hillclimbs. In these, power, speed, torque and handling are paramount. While Satan’s wheelbase and weight are tremendous handicaps, it has done performed fantastically – especially when there was a little extra breathing room between the pylons.
Most of the hillclimbs in which Satan of Morimar competed were of the mountain type, these being run at extreme high speeds and widely considered some of the most dangerous racing events. One of the Hudson’s most impressive results was at the Basso Presto Hill climb in 1971, where it took first in the Sedan class with a time of 29.41 seconds. In the Class D (next higher) the first place Triumph Spitfire sports car finished the run in 33.26 seconds. In Class C the Satan beat all but the first place MGB who clocked a 29.09. The Satan was one one-hundredth of a second from beating the 5th place Class A Ford Mustang. Incidentally, on this event 11 cars ended up essentially wrecked at the day’s end.
Another satisfying and competition-abusing win was in the Gene Connors Memorial hillclimb in 1969. There, the Satan finished first in Class D with a time of 33.90 seconds. The first place Class C Porsche could only manage a time of 35.51 seconds. In Class B the Hudson would have been finished in 4th. In a letter regarding the car’s history, the former owner recalled a smart aleck driving a Pontiac Firebird who mouthed off to the Events Master, “What the hell is that guy doing here with that old HUDSON—are you really going to let him run?” The E.M. said, “You’d better lookout buster, that old Hudson is going to cream you!” True to the Event Master’s word, the Satan of Morimar did just that. Afterwards the Firebird owner, now quite angry (and somewhat dejected) demanded, “What the hell do you have in there a 427?” Satan’s owner calmly replied, “If I’d had that piece of junk you could have beaten me—I got the best damned engine ever built in this country, a Hudson in-line six banger.” With that he lifted the hood to let him look, and calmly walked away. Clearly, satisfaction was in the win, but a little attention and humbling of the competition never hurt anyone either. The Hudson continued to compete for years with its skilled owner piloting the car at hillclimbs well into the 1970s. It remained in single family ownership for the ensuing years while its original condition remained entirely preserved.
Today Satan of Morimar continues to garner attention wherever it goes. After remaining in the same family’s hands until recently, the Hudson found its way to Arizona where it was hidden away until spotted by Rob Myers and Ian Kelleher on a recent trip. Following an exhilarating test drive in which the Hudson’s performance was very well displayed, a deal was struck and the Hudson changed hands for only the third time on record. The Hudson remains in excellent overall condition, retaining a lovely patina of originality and charm. Mechanically it is fully sorted and will offer its next owner a truly unparalleled experience behind the wheel. We encourage those interested to ask for a test drive as we would be more then happy to help display the Hudson’s power and agility.
A Charitable Decision Honoring Eight Years of Support
Still in unrestored original “hillclimb” condition, the Satan of Morimar is up for public sale for the first time since 1956 at RM’s annual Vintage Motor Cars at Amelia Island auction to be held March 11, 2006 in conjunction with the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance at the elegant Ritz-Carlton hotel. In a charitable decision to support Bill Warner, his great team and all the people who volunteer annually at the prestigious concours, RM Auctions will be selling the famed Hudson without reserve with the proceeds benefiting the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance charities. We encourage those interested in driving or inspecting the car to contact one of our motor car specialists prior to the auction – we guarantee one test drive will seal the deal for any true driving enthusiast.
AddendumPlease note that the serial number for this vehicle is 7C245006.
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