Friday, April 26, 2013

Separated at Birth: Hudson Step-Down and Jaguar XJ

My e-book on automobile styling argues that there hasn't been much evolution in the appearance of sedans since about 1950. Yes, technology has improved in terms of metal stamping, autoglass forming, headlamp structure and other fields related to how cars look. And there has been increased attention since the early 1980s regarding improved aerodynamic efficiency as a means of reducing fuel consumption. But the dominant factor is fashion. Automobile styling fashions come, go, and occasionally return.

A case regarding the return of a style is the design of the current Jaguar XJ model. It took me a while to make the connection, but it finally dawned on me that the XJ can be considered a modern version of the "step-down" Hudson of the 1948-1954 model years.

Let's take a look:

Here are the cars in profile, the XJ above, the Hudson below.

And here are rear 3/4 views that offer more information on the treatment of the "greenhouse" -- styling jargon for the glassed-in top part of a car.

Both designs might be called "almost-fastback," where the top gradually curves downward and meets the lower body slightly in front of the back of the car. Both designs use a "six-window" treatment, each door having a window plus a window placed to the rear of the rear door. (A "four-window" style has only door windows.)

True, there are differences in appearance. The XJ makes plenty of use of technological refinements and wind tunnel testing, but the most visible difference is that its rear wheels are exposed, whereas the Hudson's are skirted. Nevertheless, the cars separated by the Atlantic Ocean and 60 years are conceptually similar in terms of basic shape.


dearieme said...

I'd be happy if I never see again the re-entrant rear window of the 1960s Ford Anglia, however practical it was.

Donald Pittenger said...

dearieme - Ford really liked that style for some reason. It first saw production (at Ford) on the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruises and as late as 1988 the Mercury Cougar had a vertical rear window.

The earliest example that comes to my mind is on the 1953 Packard Balboa show car.