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

Classic Driver - - FEATURES - STORY JOHN BEL­LAM­ORE PHO­TOS TONY HAY­COCK

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

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