I should have learned after 4 failed car projects to just leave well enough alone. But I didn’t. And so the saga unfolds anew.
I joke that where others have a soft spot for stray animals, I lug home all sorts of vintage yard art probably best left to serve out their sentences and head to the great car crusher in the sky. My grand-vision far, far exceeds my novice mechanical aptitude. My wallet isn’t particularly fat. And I continuously doubt my decisions. However I can be doggedly-persistent, and more than a bit naive, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. Generally I recognize my limits, most of the time I speed right by them and run head first into a wall – wrench in one hand, pride in another and sanity no where in sight. The rationale is simple: if someone else can do it so can I. That’s all well and good until I inevitably realize that Many are more talented or have more experience or quite frankly, are smart enough to not undertake a project so large.
I had been hunting for a hot rod after selling off a 1964 Galaxie and a few motorcycles last summer. The intention then, of course, was to take some time away from cars and bikes and just “enjoy being project-free”. Clearly that didn’t work out and I was jonesing for my fix of agitation, stress, and pissing money away. A “hobby” if you will. I’m blessed with 2 beautiful children and a woman (hereforth known as the “Better Half”) who has tolerated my antics – from an upside down rusted and ripped Dodge PilotHouse cab setting on the newly sodded grass to multiple C10 carcasses in the driveway while I performed a frame transplant – so I have to watch out for a project that will be too much for minimal time. (Note: As I write these words I realize today is probably a good day to get the Better Half some roses.)
So the hunt was on. I’d seen a few candidates – a chopped Chevy and a few chopped 47,48 Fords. All great cars with pros and cons to each. And then one Saturday morning I was on CraigsList – coffee in hand while keeping the 2 kids from mauling each other. A typical Saturday. I scrolled down through my CL filter: under $8000, between 1900 and 1954, manual transmission. And then I saw it. A 1948 Hudson. And not just any Hudson (as if any is JUST a Hudson) but a COUPE! Factory chopped-looking roof line, good paperwork, standard transmission, already slung low. I immediately sent the link to a buddy who demanded I go purchase it right then. So I called the owner and set a date to make the 90 minute drive and see it in person.
Made the trip up the following Saturday, leaving my house around 8 am. Plans were to be back at home by 11 to hang out with my Dad and then spend time doing some yard work and hanging with the kiddos. The trip up was uneventful other than getting a bit detoured and wondering why there are 75 cent tolls every 7 miles on Rt 95 in NH. I missed the mailbox with the right address so had to turnaround and backtrack. Making my way up the dirt driveway I expected the Hudson to be in full plumage, to bask in her glow as her patina showed through her original prom dress. I was about to be enthralled.
And then I wasn’t. There she sat under a broken and mangled car-tent-shelter-thing. Couple flat tires. An assortment of Peanuts-inspired Christmas trees propping up and through the tent at various angles to keep Mother Nature at arm’s length. It wasn’t easy to get a real good view of anything other than the passenger side. But that was enough. I’d made my decision before I spoke much with the owner, but any sense of apprehension was pretty well eradicated after talking with Bruce for almost 2 more hours.
To say he loves this car isn’t doing justice. Bruce gave me all the backstory – how and from whom he got it, the barn it was in for years, his grand plans, what he’d done in the past. He smiled as he told the stories and ideas and in doing so it became very clear that his selling was not so much a choice as it was a mandate. As someone who has bought and sold many cars and bikes over the years – many of which held hundreds of hours of labor or more importantly, numerous trips around town with the kids – I respect the passion he has for the car and felt the weight of the decision he had to make. I let him know of a way that he could store it for a while if he was able to do so. Circumstances being what they are he had to make the difficult decision to let it go. I finally headed back with a lot of decisions to be made. Notably how to convince the Better Half that another 4k pound relic “needed” to come home. I planned on calling Bruce later on that weekend to advise of my decision.
I was late getting home, but still had time to play whiffleball with my Dad and son, and for ice cream with both my kiddos later on. I haven’t played catch of any sort with my Father in close to 20 years. Checking out the car was great but being a boy with his Dad again was priceless. To have 3 generations of my family tossing a ball and watching my father pitch to my son. Beyond words.
NOTE: The pics of the car here are from www.vintagehudson.com. These were the pics I was given in an email to look over. They are the work of the gentleman who pulled the car out of a barn after 50+ years. His name is Harley Freedman and his work can be seen here http://www.hfvisuals.com/