Cars & Stars

Steve McQueen’s Hudson Commodore

With the valuable support of Prof. Massimo Grandi’s depth of knowledge and illustrative talent

Photo credit: Massimo Grandi, Bonhams

8899 Beverly BL 501, Los Angeles, California. This was Steve McQueen’s address when he bought one of the approximately 700 Hudson Custom Commodore Six Convertibles manufactured in 1950. He loved the car, keeping it until his death, from asbestos-related lung cancer, in 1980.

After the end of the Second World War, Hudson was among the first Detroit-based car makers to introduce new models. These cars had futuristic designs that outshone what others were producing

McQueen wasn’t just a Porsche and Ferrari enthusiast; he was also a great lover of Hudsons, purchasing four in all over the years. This example, still largely original, is accompanied by its vehicle registration document, which shows McQueen as the owner. Initially powered by a six-cylinder engine with a single carburetor, McQueen subsequently had it upgraded with the larger high-compression six-cylinder engine equipped with the Twin H-Power (dual carb) system. This is hardly surprising given how passionately the ‘King of Cool’ loved both speed and engines.

Hudson’s 1948 innovation was the “step-down” chassis which featured footwells recessed between the stiffening members of the body. This solution was one of the first expressions of the “unit body” construction concept, which saw the body and chassis combined in a single welded unit

On the death of the Hollywood legend, his Commodore was sold to a friend. For a long time, it was left parked in a warehouse in San Bernardino (CA). It remains in largely original condition, even though, at some point, someone decided to repaint the lower part of its bodywork in a dark gold/brown combination. However, this modification only adds to the charm of this seductive model.

The car is still accompanied by its original registration document. Issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles on 8 April, 1979, it names McQueen as the owner