Restomod gurus from Icon recently debuted their latest creation. Based in Chatsworth, California, Icon is famous for transforming Toyota FJs, Ford Broncos, and flatfender Jeeps into re-engineered restomods, and this 1949 Hudson Super Six is the latest in Icon’s Derelict line, which features an all-new chassis and drivetrain under bodywork that’s left as untouched as possible.
Icon made a name for itself by offering Jeep, FJ, and Bronco 4x4s that all followed a similar build process. Though the system was far from an assembly line, sticking with the same basic vehicles helped Icon to learn lessons in early builds that smoothed the way for those that came later. Lately, Icon has spread its build philosophy used on those 4x4s into two separate lines of one-off builds: Reformers and Derelicts.
The concept of the Reformer is somewhat similar to Icon’s original 4×4 builds, since each vehicle gets a full restoration with bodywork and paint. In contrast, each Derelict build aims to keep the exterior of the vehicle looking as it was in as-found condition, which is weather-beaten and full of character.
Some of Icon’s previous Derelict builds have needed some exterior sheet metal rust repair and required some artful paintwork to blend the old with the new, but this Hudson’s patina is all its own. The sun-checkered paint might not be the car’s factory lacquer, but it’s still ancient.
Under the sun-beaten body lies an all-new chassis from Art Morrison with independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and Wilwood disc brakes for a much more modern ride and handling. Almost any modern V-8 would be a huge improvement in power over the Hudson’s smooth-running inline-six, but it would take something out of the ordinary to move its 4500-pound bulk with gusto. After consulting with the owner, Icon tracked down and installed a 638-horsepower Chevrolet LS9 V-8 engine and 4L70E transmission. You’d have no idea the car was packing such a potent powertrain from the outside. Even the wheels and tires do a good job to keep the Hudson playing the part of a sleeper. The forged, 18-inch wheels are black to blend in with the ZR-rated Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires and use the original hubcaps to be extra sneaky.1 / 30
The interior features distressed blue leather and blue alligator upholstery and blends in much better to the old Hudson than you might expect. Much of the dash remains original, but a new chromed aluminum trim panel holds additional air conditioning vents with 3D-printed ducts and louvers. With performance-oriented power steering, the huge-diameter factory steering wheel wouldn’t do; yet the horn ring and center button were too cool to replace. So, a smaller-diameter outer wheel was cast in resin to fit those factory centerpieces.
While the bodywork benefited from dry storage, the floorboards didn’t fare so well. Icon built a whole new floor for the car, including the trunk. The car’s spacious cargo area now houses the LS9’s massive dry sump oil tank.
The build process spanned two years, and before that this Hudson sat in Icon’s lot next to a handful of other prospective builds. Icon’s Jonathan Ward and his crew are just waiting for the next customer to make another high-tech, low-gloss Derelict sleeper.
If you want to learn more about the car, Ward shares all of the details in this video.