Low-slung, ground-hugging, roomy. Such words were used to hype many of Detroit’s first all-new post-war cars, but the “Step-down” 1948 Hudson was one of the few that truly deserved them. It was unquestionably one of the decade’s most outstanding designs.
Hudson broke a lot of new ground with its ’48. Since 1932, the firm had touted “unit engineering,” a body bolted to its chassis instead of resting on flexible mounts. With the Step-down it switched to a more solid welded structure as pioneered in the Thirties by the Chrysler Airflow and Lincoln Zephyr, and Hudson took the concept a step further by dropping the floor pan so that it was fully surrounded by the chassis side rails. This put the floor lower than the door sills, hence the “Step-down” nickname, while affording girder-like side-impact protection.
Besides safety, the Step-down’s chassis design contributed to a much lower centre of gravity that…
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