1923 Hudson Super Six
In the days before buses there were Service Cars. The Southward Museum is preserving a rare 1923 Hudson Super Six seven seater
Hudson were always makers of well above-average motor cars, much closer in quality and engineering to Cadillac than Ford. Unusual for an American maker they were even highly regarded in the UK, to the extent that when Austin made their Twenty, the Hudson Super Six was the inspiration. They were not cheap (the Essex brand took care of that) but always with a reputation for power and comfort.
In New Zealand, Hudson’s were a popular choice for Service Car operators. Not only were they rugged and strong, they were big. Most were seven seaters so with a bit of wriggling, ten passengers could be shoehorned into the car. In the lower and central North Island the main operator was AARD (Always Alert & Ready to Drive) and part of their sales pitch was they only used Hudson cars and they had “Royal and Vice-regal Patronage.” This second claim seems a little far-fetched but in those days advertising standards were pretty low. They were one of the first operators of North Island public road transport and the network extended from Auckland to Wellington via New Plymouth and Gisborne. A fully laden Hudson, with two-wheel brakes on the wet, muddy tracks which passed for roads in those days, would have made for a fraught journey for both driver and passenger as well.
This car was purchased by Roy Southward in 1966 and he never intended to restore it as it is in far too good condition to justify pulling it apart just for the sake of it. The WoF sticker on the windscreen expired on June 6 1941 so we can logically assume it has been off the road since then. The 288 ci 78 hp side-valve six may be big and powerful but it is also rather thirsty, so wartime fuel rationing would explain why a car which was less than 20 years old found itself prematurely retired.
Roy donated the Hudson to the Southward Museum Trust three years ago with the instruction that it not be restored, but the original AARD livery be uncovered from the matt black paint which covers it at the moment and it is displayed in the museum loaded with period luggage, as it would have been seen on the rugged back roads of 1920s New Zealand. While it is a shame the car probably won’t see the road again, it is an irreplaceable link to a forgotten past of local history and preserving it in this manner is the only logical choice.
Uncovering history. The 1941 WoF would explain why the car has survived until now with such little deterioration. By pure coincidence, a few days after seeing the Hudson, I spotted this AARD route map on the wall of the Ashburton Motor Museum
It is very rare to find a car from this era this well preserved. The aluminium over woodframed body appears to be in perfect condition