The World’s Largest Collection of Hudson Vehicles
By Scott Strenzel, aka Scooter from Scooter’s Garage
Now, I’ll give you a quickie on Hudson motors. Roy D. Chapin left Oldsmobile in Lansing, MI to build a more affordable car, as he stated. He got with some of his auto buddies with last names of Coffin, Brady, and Benzer and began to build cars. He got with E. R. Thomas of the famous Thomas Flyer too. Space and word limitations cut me off on this. But I also have to say there were more names that came in and out of this venture over the years. It became Hudson mainly due to the fact that one mover and shaker named R. B. Jackson that had also left Olds, happened to be married to the niece of the owner of the Hudson Department store in Detroit. Chapin’s “group” had a car made, but with no name for it. When Mr. Hudson saw it, he made offers to invest in their cars. So, it was a Hudson. Later on it became Nash-Kelvinator and then American Motors.
OK, back to the exciting viewing. Once you park in the large lot, the building is awesome in itself, and it’s hard to keep realizing that this is a privately-owned classic car collection with a few guest feature automobiles assembled for your viewing pleasure. This classy reddish front building is on South Van Buren Street in Shipshewana, IN. This is the finest collection of Hudson, Essex, and Terraplane’s you could ever see and know that every one of them is in running and driveable condition at anytime.
Right up front I must apologize for the small amount of information to be presented in this article. The amount of design, engineering, inventing and firsts the Hudson Motor Car Company brought to the American auto industry is massive, to say the least.
When I walked in and announced I was Scooter, you’d have thought I was actually somebody important. The front desk man Roger Yoder greeted me like I was an old friend, and he quickly told me that I would be privately guided by another volunteer named Darrell Worthley that came right up and shook my hand complete with a genuine smile. Then I stepped into the gigantic showroom area. I just began clicking the camera as my man Darrell tossed out specific info about each and every vehicle. I had never realized the amount of class in one of the Hudsons that were built. Heck, my mother before she married my dad worked right on the assembly line in Detroit, MI at the Hudson Motor’s. So I’ve always had a spot in my heart for Hudsons.
After checking out a 1909 and a bright yellow 1911 Hudson Speedster, I was told the yellow 1911 Speedster was the very first car (with a patent) to have a balanced crankshaft. This allowed car motors to run at much higher RPMs. In 1929 and 1930, Hudson was contracted to build 500 mail trucks for the U.S. Postal Service. There is only one left and it’s in the Museum. They were called Dovers, not Hudsons. Hudson even built fire trucks, off the record, so to speak. There is one on display that’s in mint shape. Also, you should be aware of the fact that in the 1920’s Hudson was the third largest car manufacturer in the USA behind Ford and Chevrolet! In 1928 they custom built a Murphy-bodied Hudson Town car for Mrs. Frederick William Schumaker–the wife of the patent medicine King of Columbus, OH for a whopping $14,500. That was the most expensive car Hudson ever built. The Hostetler’s now own it and it’s sitting there in all of its glory for you to see. Then another museum person walked up to me and shook my hand. He told me his name was J.R. and he invited me into one of the private workshop areas. He told me there was one in there I’d be interested in. It was getting a tune up so it can be driven in a parade coming up. It was a 1931-30 Hudson 8-cylinder 7-passenger Phaeton, that had been owned by some guy you might recall in our nation’s history by the name of Herbert Hoover. Later on Darrell told me J.R. was J.R. as in Eldon’s son. WOW! A nice guy and very knowledgeable, he came back to me later on and gave me so much information it would take a novel to just print part of it. He said that he was very happy to have Scooter and Auto/Truck Round-Up interested enough to want to do an article on the Museum. I really felt welcomed from J.R., Darrell, Roger and Rowie.
I’m hurting for word count, so here are some high spots. The white 1942 Woody with a before- rusty one next to it must be seen. The right-hand drive model has to be read about and you have to see the dark blue business coupe/pickup box car. Some of the 30’s Hudson have a rack-and-pinion-like system that has the lower headlights mounted on it so those lights turn the direction of the tires when cornering. And get this_many Hudsons have a pair of rear chrome red lenses which are tear-drop-style brake lights that move back and forth for better visibility via a vacuum system. You have to read about the yellow Shaw Special race car and the to-die-for light green pickup truck. Plus, there were three special 1932 Hudsons built for Roy Chapin (the company’s president), Amelia Earhart and Orville Wright. I’d say that’s good company for any of us. Come and see this collection and the ultra-friendly people around it. Thanks J.R., Darrell and Roger.