The Hudson Italia was an automobile styling study and limited production two-door compact coupé produced by the Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan in cooperation with Carrozzeria Touring of Italy during the 1954 and 1955 model years. Designed by Frank Spring, and introduced 14 January 1954, the Italia was based on the Hudson Jet platform and running gear but had its own unique body and interior. It was an effort by Hudson to capitalize on the notoriety of showcars, as the Chrysler Ghia had done.
During development of the ill-fated Hudson Jet line, chief designer Frank Spring had hoped to bring a low-slung stylish car to Hudson's model range. His work was modified by Touring. The car first appeared under the "Super Jet" name and featured numerous advancements including its aluminum body, wraparound windshield (reminiscent of the 1953 Corvette),doors that cut 14 inches (356 mm) into the roof (also called aircraft doors) for easier entry and exit. In part because of Hudson's "step-down" floorpan, which dated to 1948, the Italia was 9" (23 cm) lower than the Jet, but shared its 105" (2667 mm) wheelbase.
While styling for the Jet was conservative, the Italia was anything but. For one, the Italia was 10 inches (254 mm) lower than a Jet. Over the headlights, the front fenders featured "V" shaped scoops, ducting cooling air to the front brakes. The front bumper sported a large inverted "V" (the trademark Hudson triangle, inverted) in the center that angled up and overlapped the grille work. Rear quarter scoops cooled the rear brakes. In the back of the car, the tail, directional, and back-up lamps tipped the ends of three stacked chrome tubes per side, emerging from scalloped cut-outs in the rear quarter panels. Inside, it featured a radio (not yet standard equipment even on Cadillacs), form-fittingbucket seats covered in red and white leather and vinyl, and bright red deep-pile Italian carpet,contrasting with the Italian Cream exterior color, and even seat belts (also just beginning to appear as standard, pioneered by Nash). Flow-through ventilation, usually credited as a GM innovation, feeding through a cowl vent (just becoming usual in 1950s U.S. cars), was also standard.
Despite lower labor costs in Italy,the hand-built car's price tag was USD$4,350.Combined with Hudson's dashed prospects as a stand-alone independent marque (Hudson and Nash merged in May 1954), it spelled the end for the Italia after a mere twenty-five examples were completed. A single 4-door sedan prototype (dubbed 'X-161') was also constructed to study production possibilities.
The car was powered by Hudson's Twin H 202 cu in (3.3 L) L-head straight 6, with higher (8:1) compression and dual one-barrel (single choke) downdraft carburetors, producing 114 horsepower (85 kW) and all were equipped with a 3-speed manual transmission with a column-mounted gear shift lever. It featured drum brakes front and rear.
One source reports 21 of the 26 built as surviving today.