'54 Hudson Jet Race Car Project

Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
edited February 2014 in HUDSON Posts: 25
Hi guys, new member here. I post over on the HAMB forum, but found the classiccar.com forum recently when researching my '54 Hudson Jet that I'm working on.

From what I'm told, this car was built back in the 1980's and raced a few times at a dirt track in Vermont. It ran with a 308 Hornet engine, somehow mated to a '39 Ford 3 spd. flathead transmission, along with a Ford banjo rear-end (still has the torque tube).

The former owner's did not want the current number on the car to be displayed, that's why they're covered up. I respect their decision, so I don't really want to go in to detail about the history of the car right now.

But anyways, my plans are to get the Jet up and moving again, and make it street legal. It would be nice to find a 308 Hornet engine to put back in the Jet, but for right now I think I'm going to just use a spare Chevy 292 I have laying around, and mate it to a '39 Ford Transmission, so I can use the same mounts and keep the torque tube to the rearend. Plus, if I do get a 308 I could always change it pretty easy since all the mounts would still be in place.

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Comments

  • RL ChiltonRL Chilton Administrator, Moderator
    edited February 2014 Posts: 5,003
    Welcome to the forum!  Sounds like an interesting project.  I like the 3 speed.  Zephyr gears in the rear end and a hornet engine would make a killer combination.  Where are you located?
    Russell http://www.52hornetvert.blogspot.com HETrlchilton52@gmail.com (drop the HET)
  • hudsontechhudsontech Senior Contributor
    Posts: 4,606
    Welcome aboard.  HET is a great club - a family really.  You mentioned the Jet ran on a dirt track in Vermont - which one and who ran it.  Being originally from Maine I might know the people.

    Hudsonly,
    Alex Burr
    Memphis, TN

  • ski4life65ski4life65 Expert Adviser
    Posts: 802

    Alex

     

    He has been posting on the HAMB. For some reason, any useful information about the car or the previous owner is a big secret. Maybe it was being raced by the CIA in some deep undercover probe at a track in New England??????? Otherwise, I can't imagine why the previous owners would care if anyone knew about it's history. Sorta strange. Hopefully Shaun will be able to leak a little more about the car in the near future. It looks like a fun project.

     

    Don

     

  • Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
    edited February 2014 Posts: 25
    Hi guys, thanks for the welcome. Not used to posting photos this way on a forum, so it took me a little bit to figure it out. The photos should appear now... Sorry I wasn't real clear on the first post. I was going to add more, but wanted to see reception first.

    Russell, I'm located up in central New Hampshire. I checked the rear-end gears and they show as 4.11's. A little lower gear then I want- since I'm planning on making the Jet road legal again, but it shouldn't be too bad going down the road. For right now I'm just going to use a spare Chevy 292 that I have... I'm going to try to make a set of front mounts that utilize the stock Jet motor mounts. That way, if I find a nice Hornet 308 to put back in it the swap will be easy (though I have no idea how they went from a Ford 3 speed to a Hornet 308).

    Alex, the car raced at Devil's Bowl speedway back in the 1980's- apparently they were trying to make a sort of "budget" racing class using late model cars. I don't have alot of details about the class, but I guess things never really materialzed, and the class was cancelled due to a small field of cars.

    Looking at the car in person you can see that it never raced much... No big dents or other damage to the car like any stock car that actually raced much. I was told when I bought it that it never actually ran, but after talking to one of the guys that helped a little building it, and finding a ton of clay dust in the trunk, I'd say it raced at least a few times.

    Don, when I bought the car I agreed to the seller's terms that the number would no longer be displayed on the car as it was their father's. I am trying to be respectful of their decision, and I have blanked out his numbers and left out his name. If they change their mind, then I'll update everything. But until then, I don't want to really dwell on the history- more on the restoration of the car.

    photo Hudson1_zps25bc7ba1.jpg

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    Played around a little bit when I first moved it into my garage. Managed to get all 4 doors to open again... Well, OK, 3 and a half. The passenger side door was cut in half, and the top swings out- that was how the guy got in the car... The rest were bolted shut.

    photo Hudson1HAMB5_zps5f39ed8e.jpg

    photo Hudson1HAMB4_zpsf2f7a684.jpg
  • Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
    Posts: 25
    Here's a couple more pictures.. The front fenders are pretty well gutted out as you can see. Also, there's two master cylinders on the car. The one you see on the firewall is for a hydraulic clutch (60's Chevy style master), and the other one is mounted beneath the floor for the brakes (possibly a '40 Ford set-up).

    photo Hudson1079_zps095ab049.jpg

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  • RL ChiltonRL Chilton Administrator, Moderator
    Posts: 5,003
    Looks like Buick brake drums on the front.
    Russell http://www.52hornetvert.blogspot.com HETrlchilton52@gmail.com (drop the HET)
  • hudsontechhudsontech Senior Contributor
    Posts: 4,606
    You don't happen to know Buddy Bardwell do you??  He ran, and may still be at it, a 1934 Ford chassis with a 308 in the engine compartment for years on dirt tracks all over New England and New York.

    Hudsonly,
    Alex Burr
    Memphis, TN
  • Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
    Posts: 25
    Russell- pretty close! Those are actually wide 5 bolt pattern drums. They were all aluminum, and made by a couple different companies- I know "Safety" racing and Frankland made them, I'm sure a couple others.

    With those drums they ran a "safety hub" on the right front.. Sort of hard to explain, but basically instead of one castle nut holding on the drum and wheel, it is fastened on like a floater rear axle, with the two thin nuts and the special lock washer that has tabs folded over to keep the nuts from coming off. This was so in the event of a crash, the right wheel couldn't come off as easy and go out into the crowd. Some tracks might have required it on both front wheels, not sure.

    I should have posted to some more pictures of the rearend.... It's a '40 Ford banjo rear, that still has the torque tube. But the funny thing is that it has full floater 3/4 ton truck axles in it. I guess they're the same spline and everything? They certainly don't look like custom axles.... The brake drums on the rear are cast iron stock Ford wide 5 truck ones. I've been told they're pretty hard to find, since they only made them a couple of years.

    Alex, I have met Buddy a few times. Not too long ago he sadly went into a nursing home... I guess he still remembers alot of the old racing days, and has helped people identify cars in drivers in old photos that no one else would recognize.
  • hudsontechhudsontech Senior Contributor
    Posts: 4,606
    Sorry to hear about Buddy - I only met him one time when he brought the 308 powered Ford over to Ed & Else Cook's meet in Shapleigh (ME) (I lived in Maine at the time).  Lordy was that thing loud - I think Ed might have gotten complaints from people 15 miles away.  LOL
    Interesting fellow to talk with.

    Hudsonly,
    Alex Burr
    Memphis, TN
  • LHudsonLHudson Expert Adviser
    Posts: 164

     

    Found this over on the HAMB. Who's was it?
  • Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
    Posts: 25
    I think that was the drag Hudson Jet that Jack Clifford used to run back in the day (as in Clifford 6 cylinder performance parts). He ran with a 308 Hudson in the Jet and used to turn 12 and 13 second 1/4 miles with it back in the day.
  • J SpencerJ Spencer Expert Adviser
    Posts: 505
    It looks like stepdown subframe grafted into the car. Might make sense using the Hornet engine.

    Jim Spencer
    Western New York Chapter
    Jim Spencer Western New York Chapter 1951 Pacemaker Coupe
  • 53jetman53jetman Senior Contributor
    Posts: 1,184
    The pictures above show it with the standard Jet front frame rails.  The angle of the front suspension parts are the first give-away that it is still Jet. 
    Jerry Bean  -  Lima, OH,  Home of the M1A1 Abrams Battle Tank - email: JerryBean@mail.com - A 2nd Generation Hud-Nut -  HET Tech Adviser on Hudson Jets 1953 & 1954 & HET Registrar of all Hudson Jets
  • Oldfarmer1947gmailcomOldfarmer1947gmailcom Expert Adviser
    Posts: 1,199
    Adapting a Ford transmission to the 308 engine might have been a revision or outright one off for your car. The 1960's JC Whitney and Almquist catalogs I have list 4-5 pages of engine to transmission adapters as well as complete "kits" to install your favorite engine to a specified transmission or body. The Almquist catalog for Spring 1965 lists a HUDSON 8 to Ford or Mercury manual transmission adapter. It is not a long stretch to believe this adapter could be made to work on a Hudson Big 6. These catalogs were the "dream" design works for every young aspiring Hot Rodder. The bits and pieces to make your favorite engine "mate" with the transmission and car body of choice were all there. Pick and chose and make it work.
  • hudsontechhudsontech Senior Contributor
    edited May 2014 Posts: 4,606
    The late Sloane McCauley, out of North Texas campaigned a 308 powered Jet dragster back in the '70s - the car was, I think, in Big Daddy Garlits  museum in Florida - that sounds right - for a while.  Last I heard it was up for sale, but I'm not sure about that.

    Hudsonly,
    Alex Burr
    Memphis, TN
  • Ol racerOl racer Senior Contributor
    edited June 2014 Posts: 2,281
    FYI

    You may not know that  a guy bought that Record Holder Jet from Don Gartlis last Yr

    (Pls Dont shoot the messenger)

    I learned this fact when I inquired about the Hornet Race Mtr & B&M Hydro Stick when seen on Ebay.
  • TwinHTwinH Senior Contributor
    edited June 2014 Posts: 706
    Vintage race cars with history now bring stupid $$.
    :-q

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  • Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
    edited June 2014 Posts: 25
    Oldfarmer- you wouldn't happen to have any part number or anything for the Almquist adapter? I'm guessing they're about as rare as hen's teeth.. But you never know, might get lucky.  Not sure what someone would be thinking when they came up with that plan??

    I wonder how they adapted a Hydro Stick to a Hornet 308?
  • Oldfarmer1947gmailcomOldfarmer1947gmailcom Expert Adviser
    edited February 2014 Posts: 1,199
    Amquist Engineering - Hudson V-8 to Ford Transmission: 60-736
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    The JC Whitney - number is: p81020 . This adapter is supposed to mate a 55-56 Hudson V-8 to 32-48 Ford passenger car, 32-53 Ford Truck, 39-50 Mercury with 8 bolt transmission. The catalog advertisement also states, a pilot bearing will be supplied where required.

    Universal adapter for HEAVY DUTY TRANSMISSIONS - part number 81302 the picture appears to show an adapter that can be match drilled to replace the bell housing of you engine and the other end is manufactured to fit the same Ford / Mercury transmissions listed above.
  • Oldfarmer1947gmailcomOldfarmer1947gmailcom Expert Adviser
    edited June 2014 Posts: 1,199
    FYI

    You may not know that a guy bought that Record Holder Jet from Don Gartlis last Yr kept the outside paint as it was when it was raced.  

    I learned this when I inquired about some parts I saw on Ebay.

  • PaulButlerPaulButler Administrator
    edited February 2014 Posts: 719
    A question about the steering wheel position.

    The actual positioning of it looks uncomfortable to me ; would this have been personal choice or brought about because of the box / rack used?

    Great pictures by the way!

  • Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
    Posts: 25
    Oldfarmer, thanks for the numbers! If only it was 1965 again and I could just order one haha!

    Paul, did you mean my Jet or the blue Garlits drag Jet?
  • PaulButlerPaulButler Administrator
    Posts: 719
    Hi Shaun,I did mean your Jet and the pictures of it. The Garlits drag Jet looks great as well of course.

    In your Jet the position of the wheel looked high to me however I did wonder if it was hooked up to allow entry to the car?

  • Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
    Posts: 25
    Hi Paul, it is sort of a strange configuration for the steering wheel. The roll cage is actually "notched" so that you don't catch your hand on it while driving.

    It's kind of hard to see in the pictures, but there's actually an offset steering box under the dash... I'm guessing this gave a little more legroom in the car? I think the steering will be one of the hardest things to figure out for me...
  • Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
    edited March 2014 Posts: 25
    Here is the offset or quick steering box made by D&M:

    photo Hudson1154_zps417da5cc.jpg
  • PaulButlerPaulButler Administrator
    Posts: 719
    I can see you will have some fun with that for sure.

    Thanks for the response and extra picture ; it does seem a strange configuration but I'm sure it worked!

  • Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
    Posts: 25
    Not sure how I'm going to tackle that one... I've never set up steering in a car before.

    Maybe go rack and pinion?
  • Ol racerOl racer Senior Contributor
    Posts: 2,281
     Just get a Column out of a late model GM car or truck  in a wrecking yard then go to a speed shop (or Tractor Supply) and buy a  3/4" I.D Universal joint to attach the GM column onto the Hudson Steering Box. I weldaround the Joint Ends anddrill a hole for a 1/4 bolt too.
  • Shaun1162Shaun1162 Senior Contributor
    Posts: 25
    Unfortunately the Hudson steering box is long gone... There are a few mounts in the car for some other type of cross-over style steering box, but no idea what kind it was. I'll take some pictures of it later... It doesn't look like a very good set-up.

    I was thinking that rack and pinion might help simplify the system, especially since clearance on that side of the frame might be an issue.
  • Ol racerOl racer Senior Contributor
    edited March 2014 Posts: 2,281
    FYI
    I have Mid '90's Monti Carlo Rack & pinion on my '37' Hudson that works well. Just need to center the Unit then make your Mount brackets. (If Unit not centered Steering Radius will be different left or right). In my case I had to shorten the outter T/Rods slightly and make a small 'bushing' to insert into the Hudson steering Arms.I utilized all the GM Hardware, even the U Joint on the Rack. The Rack shaft angles to the left so clears V8 Mtrs...Make certain to procure a Rack from a car that the steering Arms go toward the Rear like Hudson Arms do...

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