Car: Hudson Hornet Coupe
What makes it special: Introduced for the 1951 model year, the Hornet was based on Hudson's "step-down" design, merging body and chassis frame into a single structure, with the floor pan recessed between the car's chassis rails instead of sitting on top of them, so you actually "stepped down" into a Hudson. For the 1954 model year, the model underwent a major square-lined redesign, with extensive retooling because of the way the step-down frame wrapped around the passenger compartment. A simpler grille, a functional Hood Scoop, a new one-piece curved windshield, period-typical fender chrome accents, and the formerly sloped rear end now squared off being some of those changes. The front to rear fender line was styled to make the car look longer and its taillights were also redesigned.
What made it famous: While there was no V8 yet available for the Hudson Hornet that year, its 308 cu in inline six-cylinder produced 160 hp and a racing-inspired 170 hp "Twin-H-Power" version was optional from the factory.
Why I would want one: They were the car to beat in the early days of Nascar, proving to be nearly invincible in stock-car racing. Plus, it's iconic body lines and the famed "step down" design makes it legendary.
Fun fact: Overall, Hudson won 27 of the 34 NASCAR Grand National races in 1952, followed by 22 wins of 37 in 1953, and capturing 17 of the 37 races in 1954 which was called an incredible accomplishment, especially from a car that had some legitimate luxury credentials.
( 1954 Hudson Hornet Coupe photo from conceptcarz.com )