The Hudson Wasp is an automobile that was produced by the Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan between 1952 and 1954. The Wasp was also built by American Motors Corporation in Kenosha, Wisconsin and marketed under its Hudson brand for model years 1955 and 1956.
The Wasp (Series 58) was introduced in 1952 as a member of the Hudson Pacemaker series, replacing the Hudson Super Custom models from 1951. The Wasp was available in two and four-door sedan, convertible coupe and hardtop coupe designated the Hollywood. The Wasp was built on Hudson's shorter 119" wheelbase using the company's "step-down" body design, and used Hudson's detuned Inline-Six engine.
Wasp model year production saw 21,876 units in 1953 and 17,792 units in 1954, its final year before the Hudson merger with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation took effect.
In its final two model years, the Wasp became a product of the newly formed American Motors Corporation (AMC). Following the 1954 model, Hudson's Detroit manufacturing facility was closed and production of Hudson models was shifted to Nash's factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin. All Hudsons would be based on the senior Nash models, but would have exclusive Hudson styling.
In 1955, Hudson emerged as a conservatively styled car, differing mainly from the full-sized Nash by having full front-wheel cut-outs and headlight placement. Model choices were limited to a four-door sedan and two-door Hollywood hard-top. While the senior Hornet could be optioned with a V8 engine, Wasps continued to be powered by the I6 engine. Sales dropped to 7,191 units for the year as traditional Hudson buyers left the marque, viewing the cars as something less than the legendary Hudsons of the past.
For the 1956 model year, AMC executives decided to give the Wasp and Hornet more character in hopes of boosting sales. However, the plan backfired. Design for the vehicles was given over to designer Richard Arbib, who provided Hudson's with one of the more distinctive looks in 1950s, which he called "V-Line Styling". Taking the traditional Hudson triangle, Arbib applied its "V" form in every conceivable manner across the interior and exterior of the car. Arbib's front-end combined a tightly woven egg-crate grille (a nod to the 1931 Hudson Greater Eight) bisected by a prominent "V" (a nod to the 1954 Hudson Italia). Combined with tri-tone paint combinations, the Hudson's new look was unique. However, the plan to build a better Hudson identity failed; the car's garish design failed to excite buyers and Wasp sales skidded to 2,519 units in its final year of production.
For 1957, AMC stripped Hudson of eleven of its fifteen models, including the Wasp and badge engineered Metropolitan and Rambler models. This left only the Hudson Hornet in two body configurations available in two trim lines (Super and uplevel Custom) for sale. The Hudson brand name was pulled from the market at the close of the 1957 model year as AMC focused exclusively on Rambler, and to a lesser degree, the Metropolitan and Ambassador models.
- Gunnell, John, Editor (1976). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. American Motors Corporation. ISBN 978-0-87341-096-0.
- Conde, John A. (1987). The American Motors Family Album. Kraus Publications. ISBN 1111573891.