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Lot 290

1954 Hudson Italia Coupe

Sold for $275,000

114bhp, 202 cu. in. inline six-cylinder engine, two dual-barrel carburetors, three-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 105"

Following the war, Detroit’s automobile manufacturers looked to Italy for inspiration in creating special cars that could provide design cues for the cars produced in their own styling studios. While the products of Chrysler’s joint ventures with Ghia are the best-known examples of this trend during the 1950s, even the small, independent marque Hudson followed this practice.

Hudson entered the postwar market in an enviable position and was the first manufacturer to market in 1948 with an all-new and radical design, the “Step Down” Commodore. Both passenger comfort and handling were aided by the rather low stance of the car, and with the introduction of the Hornet in 1951, Hudson ruled NASCAR competition for three consecutive years. A smaller companion model, the Jet, was introduced in 1953. While exploring design ideas for future models, Hudson chief designer Frank Spring made arrangements with Carrozzeria Touring of Milan to collaborate on the design for a new grand touring coupe. Mechanical components were conventional and based on the Jet, while Touring provided its renowned Superleggera (super light) bodywork, which used a framework of small steel tubes to support the body panels.

The car Spring and Touring created in 1953 was very dramatic and clearly bore the design influence of the newest jet airplanes. Fully ten inches lower than the already low standard Hudson models, the resulting Italia was advertised as being “styled like no other car that has preceded it”. Characteristically, Hudson also highlighted safety, “due to its extremely low center of gravity, its ‘Monobilt’ body-and-frame, and its cornering and braking ability.” Intended for larger-scale production, the Italia was initially built in a small series of 25 examples, plus one prototype coupe and one four-door model, the X-161. However, the Italia appeared at the very moment when Hudson entered its ultimate business crisis and merged with Nash. Actually, the deal was more of a takeover than a merger, and company management had little interest in a futuristic, Italian-bodied “halo car”, with a relatively high list price of $4,800.

This striking Italia, chassis number IT10011, is one of just 21 examples known to remain in existence. While it is believed by some authorities that the flamboyant Las Vegas-based entertainer Liberace may have once owned this very car, no corroborative evidence has currently been found. Today, the Italia displays a comprehensive cosmetic restoration, including a fresh exterior finish in the original and correct cream-yellow color, new brightwork and a new and correct red and tan interior, as well as a fully detailed dash panel and engine bay. The Italia is also offered complete with a large file of documentation and the current owner reports that it runs and drives exactly as it should.

Collector interest in the wonderful Italian custom-bodied cars of the 1950s is strong and continues to grow. This dramatic Hudson Italia continues to exemplify a long-lost era of automotive design and innovation, when even a small manufacturer like Hudson rivaled the Big Three. Whether used as a fitting show entry or as a tour and event car, the fortunate new owner of this Italia will certainly be in privileged company.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more