Icon turns a 1949 Hudson coupe into a 630-horsepower rockabilly sleeper

23 August 2019 - Autoblog

Icon turns a 1949 Hudson coupe into a 630-horsepower rockabilly sleeper

Wild alligator leather and a Corvette engine highlight the changes

Icon founder Jonathan Ward revealed a Derelict project he poured his heart and soul into. His team transformed a 1949 Hudson coupe found sleeping in a North Carolina barn into a hand-crafted, custom-designed hot rod that hugs the road.

"This project was built for a repeat client we love," Ward explained. He added the buyer owns a ranch in the Nashville area, so he asked for a rockabilly-inspired car that reflects the local culture. The project began after Ward and his customer chose to start with a Hudson coupe made between 1949 and 1951. We can see why; it's one of the most distinctive-looking American cars manufactured during that era, and its low-slung look lends itself well to hot-rodding.

If it could talk, the Hudson would likely say waking up from its long hibernation was well worth it. Icon swapped its original engine (which was either a straight-6 or a straight-8) for a Chevrolet Corvette-sourced, 6.2-liter V8 supercharged to 638 horsepower and 604 pound-feet of torque. The cavalry travels through a four-speed automatic transmission before reaching a Dana 60 differential at the back. Icon hasn't released performance specifications, but the Hudson is very likely at least quick enough to keep up with a Corvette like the one its engine comes from.

Brembo brakes on both axles keep the engine's power in check, while a fully-adjustable independent suspension lets the owner raise the ride height if needed. The coupe features semi-unibody construction, not body-on-frame construction like many American cars made around the turn of the 1950s, so the mechanical components rest on sub-frame assemblies manufactured by Art Morrison.

It takes a big team to turn a classic car into one of Icon's Derelicts, but Ward remains personally involved in his company's projects. He designed the Hudson's interior using wild-caught alligator and calf leather, and dyed it all himself. Wool carpeting, a wool headliner, and removable floor mats add a finishing touch to the cabin. While it looks period correct, the coupe features a modern infotainment system, LED ambient lighting, A/C, and an electric parking brake controlled by the original handle. All told, the interior required 400 hours to complete.

Icon displayed its latest Derelict project during Monterey car week, and the Hudson will soon settle into its new life in Nashville. We're already looking forward to seeing what Ward's seemingly boundless imagination comes up with next.

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