1955 Hudson Italia
Year of manufacture1955
Trevor Constable (acquired in late 1950s)
Carl Mendoza, San Jose, California (acquired by 1975)
Current Owner (acquired from the above)
The rare and distinctive Hudson Italia was the brainchild of designer Frank Spring, who – using the already innovative Hudson Jet as a platform – approached the Milanese from Carrozzeria Touring to produce a short run of Hudson dream cars incorporating their ingenious superleggera construction method. Conceived to elevate the entire Hudson brand, the Italia was hailed as a triumph of modern design, but orders were few – perhaps because of their comparatively high price of more than $4,800. Each hand-built Italia was shipped from Italy and delivered during the 1954 and 1955 model years. After a run of just 25 cars, plus the prototype, the project was halted by the company’s top brass.
According to the Hudson Italia Registrar, this Italia, built near the end of the tiny production run, quickly found its way to Southern California in the 1950s and was bought by noted UFO theorist and environmental engineer Trevor Constable. At some point, according to a handwritten specification booklet found in the car, a 283 cid Chevrolet engine and a floor-shift four-speed manual gearbox replaced the standard straight six and column-shift three speed. Archival photos feature Mr. Constable with his metallic red Italia and showcase some of the modifications he had made to his prized car, which include the addition of a rear wiper, fog lights, and cloisonné Italian fags that adorn the front fenders.
The Hudson Italia Registrar also notes that the Italia was purchased by Northern California automotive aficionado Carl Mendoza, likely in the early 1970s, and the car was placed on jack stands in a rented San Jose garage, sans running gear. The rare Hudson was to remain there, in a state of suspended animation, for the next 40 years. The property housing the car changed hands in the mid-1970s and, many years later, the new building owner claimed the car and the balance of the garage contents. In early 2015, the building owner obtained a formal California title for the Hudson.
In June 2015, Italia no. 24 was rolled out into the sunlight for the first time in the better part of half a century, and it appeared particularly well preserved. From the delicate details of the superleggera aluminum body to the Mid-Century Modern leather interior, the rarest and the most difficult to duplicate pieces have remained in place, undisturbed.
It is not every day that a low-production dream car rejoins the collector car world. Italia 24 will need to be united with a Hudson straight six and transmission, among other items, to be complete once again. Perhaps, in homage to its early history, the next owner will elect to reinstall a Chevrolet V-8. Regardless, this Italia’s return to the road is sure to add to its already remarkable history.