Posted by: futurevehicles | May 22, 2009

Car of the Day: It’s a bird, it’s a plane. No……….It’s a Hudson!!

Okay, so while it’s not a car, the Dreyfuss-designed ‘Hudson’ series of steam trains make my spine tingle every time I see them. These trains were the epitomy of luxury cross country travel in America between 1902 and 1967. Passengers were treated like royalty, and the red carpet that lined each of the carraiges gave birth to the expression ‘the red carpet treatment’.

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The locomotives themselves are truly groundbreaking in their design. From the outside, the then radical streamlined skirting and fairing designs were truly awe-inspiring, and helped give birth to the trend of highly stylised, streamlined automobiles that were so prevalent in the pre-war era. They were, for the larger part of the 20th century, the most powerful steam locomotives ever built and have obtained legendary status amongst all those who appreciate quality engineering and design.

I guess the thing that draws me to the Hudson is the impact it had- this one series of locomotive challenged and indeed broke convention, but it did it in such a way that made people stand back and stare in amazement. Never before had people seen something of such power, grace and aesthetic beauty. When I first saw it as a child, I was drawn to the smoothness and the refinement of the form. I didn’t understand why the train had been designed that way (I grew up watching Thomas the Tank Engine after all), but I knew that what I was looking at was something truly special.

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Sadly, EVERY single one of the 27 streamlined Hudson trains was scrapped when central New York turned to diesel power. Despite the differences in running costs between steam locomotives and diesel being minimal, the Hudson- quite possibly the most influential train in history- was relegated to the big train yard in the sky for good.

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