1909: The Launch of the Hudson Motor Car Company in Detroit

February 24, 1909

In Detroit, eight businessmen met to establish a company under Michigan state law that would produce automobiles selling for less than $1,000. This meeting marked the start of the Hudson Motor Car Company. The company was named after Joseph L. Hudson, who was a Detroit department store entrepreneur and one of those eight businessmen. 

A little over four months after that organizational meeting, the company’s first automobile rolled out of a Detroit factory that is pictured above. This automobile, which was called the Hudson “Twenty,” sold for only $900. “Here’s a car that is good looking,” proclaimed a Saturday Evening Post advertisement for the new roadster-type vehicle. “It is big and racy. Note the graceful and harmonious lines. Observe the sweep of the fenders and the frame.”

The Hudson Twenty, which is pictured above, became the first low-cost automobile equipped with a selective sliding gear transmission. More than 4,000 units were purchased that first year, setting a new sales record for the automobile industry record. The Hudson Motor Car Company jumped to 17th place industry-wide when it came to overall sales by 1910 — all the more remarkable when considering that there were hundreds of firms marketing and selling motor vehicles at that time. 

The Hudson Motor Car Company built on that strong start by unveiling and popularizing a host of other automotive innovations over the next several years. These innovations included the first low-priced automobile to reach 60 miles (96.6 kilometers) per hour; the placement of the ignition system inside each vehicle, and the steering wheel to the left and the shift lever in the center; and the introduction of dual brakes as well as dashboard oil-pressure and generator warning lights. The Hudson Motor Car Company remained in business until 1954, when it merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation to form American Motors.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the Hudson Motor Car Company, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_Motor_Car_Company

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