Silver Bullet

The 'restoration' and modernization of my 1954 Hudson Hornet

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I acquired this car a couple years ago and have just recently dived into it in ernest.
My long term goal is to turn it into a sort of 'rat rod' with some geeky accessories and modern touches.
Since it's clearly been a 'project' vehicle for several decades I have no qualms about messing up a class car by moving away from original parts and specs. That damage was done long ago and I'd rather just have fun with it.
I have made some progress but there's still a lot to be done.

I got this car a few years ago from a local man who was selling it on behalf of his grandson. The grandson was apparently using it to get to and from school but it had been deemed too unsafe (for good reason) and the kid wanted a Honda so that he could better fit in with local car culture.
When I got it none of the lights worked, literally nothing electrical was connected other than the starter and ignition coil and the car had clearly been a project vehicle for decades.
The original straight 6 and 3 speed manual transmission were long gone and had been replaced with a Chevy 350 (5.7L) small block V8 and 4L60e automatic transmission from (as far as I can tell) a late 70s pickup truck.
Originally the car had a "3 on the tree" (ask your grandpa if you don't know what that is), no power steering, and manual drum brakes on all 4 wheels. Someone had replaced the brake master cylinder with a more modern vacuum booster unit, possibly from the same donor vehicle that the engine and transmission came from. However the installation was done very badly and resulted in the brake pedal slightly overlapping the gas pedal. Also the new master cylinder was designed for a vehicle with front disk brakes which resulted in the front wheels locking up at the slightest touch of the pedal.
This was just one of the many factors which made this car very frightening to drive. 

Unfortunately I haven't many photos of the car in its original state mainly because I wasn't planning to post online about it but as the project has morphed and grown I plan to begin documenting it better.

Thus far I have removed the rat infested seats and had them reupholstered. This actually cost almost as much as the car itself but I feel it is well worth it since it's hard to get motivated to work on a car one can barely bring themselves to sit in.

I have also treated some minor surface rust in the floor pans and added new carpet. The car is surprisingly rust free which leads me to believe it has lived it's whole life in California where it is now.

The rest of the modifications I have made are as follows:

-Replaced leaking radiator with aluminum one.

-Converted front drum brakes to disk.

-Removed failing mechanical fuel pump and replaced with electronic unit.

-Replaced weird old school fuel level sender with modern Bosch unit.

-Flushed fuel tank

-Changed oil and filter.

- Removed most of the original wiring (found the results of a minor electrical fire in the past).

-Converted from original engine driven radiator fan to dual electric units with thermal switch.

- Added voltage regulator and connected alternator

Currently the list of planned modifications is as follows but I'm sure it will change as time passes:

-All new wiring (see diagram). This is a BIG one. 

-Add oil pressure and water temp gauges and wire up fuel gauge

-Replace headliner

-Replace inner panel on all doors

-Add basic sound system (think fancy built in Bluetooth speaker)

-Build and install custom Nixie tube based GPS speedometer and tachometer.

-Add a gauge cluster for essentials (Volts, temp, oil pressure, etc. )

The following are hopes and dreams at this point:

-Air conditioning


-Power steering

  • Fuel System Done!

    Sky Shorba04/28/2021 at 18:00 0 comments

    Finished the fuel system finally.
    I've come to the conclusion that mechanical fuel pumps are responsible for most people's perception that carbureted cars are hard to start.
    Now that I have an electric pump providing instant pressure at the turn of the key the cold starting issue has completely vanished.

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Dave wrote 04/28/2021 at 10:57 point

Best of luck! Rat Rods are my favorite aesthetic. I also have a small-block Chevy with a 4-spd's just in a cargo van lol. Definitely not as cool

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Art G. Granzeier III wrote 04/20/2021 at 17:49 point

Wow, Doc Hudson would be proud. Nice list of your work, and plans.

Do you have any newer pics showing the work you have done?

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Dan Maloney wrote 04/20/2021 at 16:30 point

I remember helping a friend work on the wiring of his '57 Chevy Bel Air when we were in high school. I was struck by just how simple the electrical system was compared to even cars in the 80s.

This should make for a great project car -- I'm jealous, been looking for either a Volkswagen camper or a Toyota Land Cruiser to restore. Best of luck!

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Sky Shorba wrote 04/20/2021 at 16:57 point

The Toyota Land Cruiser is definitely a favorite of mine. They're getting harder to find though.

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