The Adventure Begins
It was in the mid 1980’s that I first became interested in vintage cars and decided to buy one to restore. At the time, this advert appeared in the New Zealand Herald, a national newspaper.
Vintage Hudson Super Six, 1928, partly dismantled,
good tyres, spare parts, literature, original papers,
best offer around $1500 Ph.... a Taupo number
(which is a two hour drive from where I live in Hamilton)
So, I went to have a look at it - and I liked what I saw. It was a big, strong and powerful American car that was still original and basically all there if not all together (the then owner had started to restore it and had removed some body panels).
It occurred to me even then that it would make a great wedding car when restored.
But I also knew that it was going to take a lot of work and money to do this.
So I offered him $1000, which he accepted. At the time, I actually knew nothing about Hudson cars. It was only in the months that followed that I learned that they were a very well made and sought after car in their time and that I’d stumbled on a great buy. On 17 November 1985, I trailered my purchase back to Hamilton.
The Restoration of My First Hudson Super Six
Well, it took me nearly a decade of working nights, weekends and holidays to complete a thorough or “ground-up” restoration of my Hudson. First of all, I stripped it right down to the chassis, had this sandblasted and then painted it.
Then, in turn, all the mechanical assemblies were renewed and assembled onto this chassis.
I had an engine re-conditioner do the major motor work for me. But the rest, such as the gearbox, differential, brakes, and wheels, I reconditioned myself, with the aid of a 1928 Hudson service manual I’d managed to get since buying the car.
Eventually I got it to the “rolling chassis” stage and then began repairing the body. To do this I attended a part-time Polytechnic Vintage Car Panel-beating course for several more years, learning how panel-beat the old fashioned way, i.e. to weld, beat and file as I worked on panels from the Hudson.
Next, I taught myself how to spray-paint, sprayed the now good panels and assembled them back onto the chassis. Then I wired up all the electrical parts.
Finally the upholstery was done. I had an upholsterer recover the more complex seats for me. But I did all the other areas myself, such as the door panels, and hood lining which were large and flat and relatively straightforward.
The restoration of my first Hudson was complete!
The Baby Essex Arrives
It was then that I decided to get the second car that was necessary if I wanted to provide wedding transport. It would however have to be one that had already been restored so that I could start doing this fairly quickly.
Besides I didn’t think that I could spend another ten years of my life undertaking another complete “ground-up” restoration. But there were no other Hudson Super Sixes for sale in New Zealand at the time.
Indeed, they’re now rare and none had come up for sale in all the time I’d be restoring mine. So, on 10-9-94, I bought a road worthy 1928 Hudson Essex from Auckland (a two hour drive from Hamilton) for $9000.
Now, an Essex is the “baby sister” or scaled-down model of the Super Six. It is powered by a smaller motor on a lighter chassis and is fitted with smaller guards, and bonnet etc. But, it is just as roomy inside as the bigger Super Six as Hudson put the same body onto both models.
The Essex I bought had also had a thorough “ground-up” restoration done to it in the 1970’s, and was still in good condition.
So, apart from doing a few minor repairs to it, I only had to respray it the same colours I’d used on my Hudson Super Six to get a second matching car that the wedding attendants could happily travel in .
Around this time I also set up the business, 1928 Hudson Hire. Like the restoration of my Hudson Super Six, this didn't happen quickly and it wasn't cheap. Since I would be transporting people “for reward” I had to become a Licensed Operator, which is a very involved process. I also had to set up an acceptable premises to base the business at, including an office. Drivers had to be employed, their uniforms designed and made, accounts had to be set up, stationery had to be printed, and advertising had to be done. So it wasn't until late 1995 that 1928 Hudson Hire started providing wedding transport.
Getting My Second Hudson Super Six
Then, several years later in June 1997, this advert appeared in Beaded Wheels; New Zealand’s Foremost Historic Motoring Magazine
1928 Hudson Super Six
Warranted, registered, in good order & condition,
Excellent reliable vehicle with a trailer load of spares.
Best offer over $7,500 Ph.... a Christchurch number
(which is about 600 miles from where I live in Hamilton)
After phoning a few people I knew in the Christchurch branch of the New Zealand Hudson Club, who knew this car, I bought it over the phone. As there was a lot of interest in it, I had to go to $10,000 to win it, something I was quite happy to do.
I had learnt that this car also had been thoroughly restored from the ‘ground-up” also in the 1970’s, and was still in good condition.
Furthermore it came with a huge number of spare parts, some very hard to find, that I could use in the future to keep it, and my first Hudson Super Six on the road for as long as I wanted.
Buying it would therefore be a great investment for Hudson Hire! So, I flew to Christchurch, paid the then owner my winning bid, and over the next week drove back to Hamilton in the car, towing a large trailer full of all the spares. What an exciting trip that was!
And, once home, apart from doing a few minor repairs to it. I only had to respray it with the same colours I’d used on my first Hudson Super Six and Essex to get a third matching car.
The Jewel in Hudson Hire’s Crown
Hudson fitted, among other body styles, a robust steel sedan body onto their standard length chassis to make 5-seater cars just like my two Super Sixes. But they also made an extra long chassis, onto which more delicate but elegant wooden-framed custom bodies were fitted by coach builders of the day, such as Biddle & Smart, Briggs, or Murphy, to make 7-seater Limousines.
At Christmas, 2008 I travelled with my family to the Far North. As it had been some years since I’d been there, I asked around for parts that might help me keep my Super Sixes on the road. At first, I didn't find anything. But I persisted and wow, I eventually came across what is now, and will probably always be, my best 1928 Hudson Super Six ever, that is an extra long, Murphy-bodied 7-seater Limousine; the jewel in Hudson Hire’s crown.
This beautiful car had been restored very well in the early 1970’s by a retired engineer. (I know this because photos of this restoration came with the car). It then changed hands, the new owner using it in rallies in the 80’s and early 90’s. He then lost interest and the car wasn't used much (but was at least garaged fortunately!) for the next 15 years. I then saw it. The owner was ready to sell, I really wanted it, a deal was made, and the car, because it had no current WOF, or VIN, was trucked back down to Hamilton to join Hudson Hire’s stable of Super Sixes.
Mechanically, there was little wrong with the car and I just did numerous minor jobs to it, like cleaning out the carburettor and installing indicators, to make it more reliable and safer.
The paintwork was, however a different story. It had badly cracked over the last 40 odd years and needed redoing from scratch. So, I spent many months stripping it right back to bare metal and respraying in our company colours.
Once done, a COF was obtained for it, it was re-registered as 28LIMO, exhibited a week later at the 2010 Waikato Wedding Expo and used less than two weeks after that on a wedding. Boy, do things happen fast around here!
In building up the Hudsons and our business 1928 Hudson Hire, I have had, what have been for me, a lot of great adventures. Indeed, there are too many to tell you about here, so I'll just show you this picture from one of them. Along the way, I have also become good friends of other people with vintage Hudson cars, both in New Zealand and worldwide..
Also my knowledge and skill level with working on vintage Hudson cars has gone from nothing to the point that in the unlikely event that one of mine breaks down, I will be able to repair it well and quickly.
To help me do this I have built up a comprehensive library of very useful Hudson vintage car literature, including log books detailing all the work I've ever done on any of my Hudsons.
Also, I have collected a large cache of used parts from all over New Zealand and some new ones mostly from America. And, over the last few years, I have restored many of these used parts, such as starter motors, generators, gearboxes, differentials, and even complete motors back to good working order should they ever be needed in a hurry.
Finally, if it’s not already clear to you by looking at this website, I’d like to point out that I manage 1928 Hudson Hire in an enthusiastic, professional and thorough way.
What started out as a passion for me, i.e. restoring a vintage Hudson car has turned into a very busy small business. Providing bridal transport in my beautiful Hudsons is work I really enjoy doing and will be happy to do until I retire, God willing, some twenty plus years from now. Until then I will continue to improve Hudson Hire in any way possible and provide those who hire my Hudsons with excellent service.
(1928 Hudson Hire Manager)