Friday, February 29, 2008

Hudson had been manufacturing cars for 20 years when the 1930 models were introduced to the motoring public.

One of the new Hudsons was a Great Eight Touring Car that had a base price, when introduced of $1,250. Later in the year, as the Great Depression deepened the price dropped to $1,145. The car had a 213.8-cubic-inch L-head in-line eight-cylinder engine that developed 80 horsepower.

The initial owner of the green, five-passenger Hudson employed a rather large chauffeur who reportedly could not fit behind the steering wheel. The solution to the problem was to simply cut off the bottom part of the steering wheel to accommodate his girth.

Decades later, the Hudson was found in New Hampshire by Jim Potter who saw it advertised for sale. That was about seven years ago. He went to investigate and although the car was well-worn he says, “It was solid as a brick.” According to the odometer, it had been driven 50,000-plus miles. He bought it in November and had it trucked to his Davidsonville home the following month.

Once the Hudson was safely parked in his garage, Mr. Potter says, “We looked at it for six months.” During that time, he decided the car warranted a total restoration. He enlisted the help of Allen Brown before tackling the project in which he says he was committed to details.

A similar Hudson in Tennessee was purchased as a parts car. As an added bonus, the engine in the parts car had recently been professionally rebuilt and balanced.

Bumpers were found in New York and at a Virginia flea market. New Valves were located in California. Regardless of what the part was, if it fit a 1930 Hudson, Mr. Potter bought it.

When he first got his Hudson it had a single backup light. It also had a single taillight on the left rear fender — something Mr. Potter could live with. It also had a single side-mounted spare tire, something Mr. Potter sought to alter. He learned that Hudson offered optional dual sidemounts in 1930 and that’s what he wanted. He acquired the necessary hardware and had a fender well cut into the other front fender. Now the Hudson rolls on its 136-inch wheelbase supported by 5.25x18-inch tires with two matching spare tires. Atop each spare tire a leather strap secures a mirror to augment the mirror above the windshield inside the car.

Stopping chares for the 3,270-pound Hudson are assigned to the 12-inch diameter brakes.

With the big engine running with a five bearing crankshaft in place, a lot of heat is generated. Each side of the long engine hood has five manually operated ventilating doors to enable some of the heat to escape.

Getting the engine hood restored proved to be problematic. When Mr. Potter sent the center hinge, to which both sides of the hood are attached, to be replated with chrome, the shop told him the part had been lost.

Since he had spent his working life in the steel industry he was able to fabricate a new hinge to replace the original. Pleased with the finished product, Mr. Potter proudly calls the hinge, “a work of art.” Since then, Mr. Potter has copied many parts in stainless steel that originally were made of aluminum.

Also helping control engine heat are the manually operated vertical shutters in front of the radiator. The cooling system has a 4.5-gallon capacity.

The gas tank holds only 16 gallons but the crankcase has a capacity of a whopping 9.5-quarts of oil.

When it came time to respray his car, Mr. Potter selected an appropriate robin’s egg blue with dark blue accents and primrose yellow pinstriping.

A pair of Trippe lights illuminate the road along with the headlights, each one 10 inches in diameter. A lever on the dashboard permits the driver to open the windshield at the bottom for fresh air in case the two cowl vents aren’t drawing enough air into the passenger compartment.

The driver must wrestle the floor-mounted three-speed gear shift lever which Mr. Potter explains is non-synchronized and must be double clutched both up and down.

In case the external fixed visor above the windshield didn’t block the sun’s rays, two internal visors on the ceiling can be lowered which places them almost at the tip of the passenger’s nose. The rear window and rear quarter windows all have pull-down window shades to shield the occupants from prying eyes.

Reproduction rubber running boards with the Hudson Great 8 emblem appear too nice to step on while climbing into the Hudson. The inviting interior is upholstered in a gray wool fabric with attention to details like the storage pockets in the front doors.

Hudson designers only equipped the car with one windshield wiper for the driver — a fact that doesn’t concern Mr. Potter who never intends to drive the car in rainy weather.

The restoration of the Hudson was declared complete, or as complete as a restoration ever can be, late last summer. “I couldn’t be happier with the way it looks,” a satisfied Mr. Potter says.

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