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Issue 08:01:04 - January 28, 2008

1915 Hudson Super Six: The car with six little cylinders

The 1915 Hudson Super Six was a line of cars produced by the Hudson Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan. It consisted of several great models, each with just "six little cylinders" but with plenty of power and great features to go along for that day. Hudson fared well when campaigning as to why a mere six cylinders were good enough when everything else was in place on an automobile. Let's take a look at the features and models of the 1915 Hudson Super Six and see what these had to offer.

The year of the cylinders

According to brochures from 1915, it was the year of the cylinders. Manufacturers were tweaking and adding cylinders to hopefully improve performance. Hudson, however, harped on keeping the same number of cylinders - six - while tweaking other areas such as the chassis and body styles. Hudson believed in simplicity when it came to engines, and focused on building a great car around the engine that would give comfort and pride to the driver.

Hudson engineers, led by Howard E. Coffin, spent countless hours researching and developing to create what they felt was a great "six" engine. They felt the number of cylinders alone was not enough for great performance, but more power, better flexibility, and more pick-up could be accomplished by tweaking engine design and the car's overall design.

Hudson Super Six features

The Hudson Super Six engine had a bore and stroke of 3 1/2 inches by 5 inches. It was rated at 76 horsepower, which was an increase of 80 percent over the best "six" engines in the market that were of a comparative size. It had a displacement of 288 cubic inches, a size that had predominated in racing motors for two consecutive seasons. For Hudson to get the engine's horsepower just right, the company invented a new way of power transmission, a new cylinder design, and a new crankshaft.

The Super Six could reach a speed of 60 mph in only 25 seconds. Its stock car speedway record was 75.68 mph.

One dominating feature of the Super Six was its small size. It was lightweight, simple, and yet economical. It gave increased power without adding weight to the car and without complications such as jerking and vibration during acceleration. Hudson found that six cylinders were the smallest number of cylinders that could be used for an engine to still produce continuous power for a gas-fueled engine. Engines with fewer cylinders would not accomplish this, and at the same token, engines with more cylinders were not necessarily better than a well-built "six" engine.

Hudson's famous "Light Six Engine" met the demands of the public, which included engine smoothness, excess of power, and good fuel economy. The engine quadrupled Hudson's sales in only two years and made Hudson one of the leading fine automobiles of its day.

A patented engine

Hudson's new Super Six was such a great invention due to its vibration-less mechanics that Hudson filed for a patent on June 28, 1915. The patent was approved on December 28, 1915. It was a great achievement in engine development.. Hudson's methods to eliminate vibration included maintaining the harmony of the connecting rods, pistons, and other moving parts during operation. By keeping harmony among these moving parts, the engine could use smaller cylinders and larger valves. The engine also had a new pneumatically-controlled carburetor.

An engine tested for greatness

The Super Six was tested for performance under official supervision. At Sheepshead Bay Motor Speedway, a Super Six seven-passenger Hudson was tested under the supervision of the American Automobile Association and made new records for endurance, acceleration, and speed. It covered 100 miles in 1 hour 20 minutes 21.4 seconds. Its average speed during this run was 74.57 mph. The seven-passenger stock car accomplished this while carrying two people, and being fitted with a windshield and top. In another one-hour test under matching conditions, the car covered 75.68 miles and attained a maximum speed of 76.75 mph. The car carried five passengers, a top, and a windshield in another one-hour test and had an average speed of 70.74 mph for the entire run.

Other tests were done using different scenarios, or speeding from a standing start or rolling start... all with great results.

Hudson Super Six models for 1915

The 1915 models were built with a higher front and lower rear to create the perfect flowing lines. There were five body styles. The windshield was slanted. Paint coatings were finished with heat to ensure durability. The upholstery was made of a rare grade of grain leather.

The Phaeton model had a double cowl with two compartments that each had its own finished dash. It would seat seven passengers, or buyers could opt to leave the two extra seats out when ordering. The Hudson Roadster could seat three passengers. There was also a Cabriolet, which was a Coupe that could be changed to an open Roadster.

The Hudson Touring Sedan was a closed, seven-passenger luxury car with windows that would easily open for days of nice weather. Hudson also produced a Limousine and Town Car.

The basic Phaeton style Hudson retailed for $1375. Buyers could expect great features inside and out as well as great performance from the Hudson's "Six Little Cylinders!"


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