By on March 26, 2012

Most car guys look back over many years with fondness at their favorite misspent youth car. Roger Ward just looks in his garage. Unfortunately, a favorite car is usually found in an out of focus, badly faded photograph-at best.

But Roger Ward clung to his family-owned 1948 Hudson like grim death, and he still owns it well over 40 years later.

Roger’s Hudson adventures technically started back in 1965 when his great uncle died and Roger’s dad was stuck with the sale of the old sedan. As Roger pointed out, “the Mustang had just come out so nobody wanted it”.

His older brother drove the Hudson for a year, but he didn’t connect with this classy old ride. So Roger stepped up and said, “I’ll take it”. Roger didn’t care about the late 40s styling-even in the swinging 1960s, because this was his first car and it came with one huge option – freedom.

Roger admitted that “my old Hudson got stopped by the police a few times but not very often because a car like that slipped under the radar plus I took every back road into town”. That’s a good thing because the Hudson was “Party Central” for his football team. He would routinely stuff 8 guys in the car and head to the lake.

He attributed his “under the radar” status with the authorities to a polite approach – in other words, he didn’t have that late 60s anti-authority attitude, and his Hudson said boring, not out of control.

Roger’s only brushes with “hippie-ism” came when he’d drive the Hudson to the big city to see concerts by bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service. But the Hudson was as reliable as a tax bill in April on the longer road trips back in the 1968-69 era.

Fittingly, Roger can only remember one incident with the Hudson where the car left him in hitchhiking mode. It stopped on the way to his favorite resort town where “some guy in a Hudson of all things, actually stopped and gave me a ride.” Roger estimated that he left between 5 and 8 people waiting back in the car.

Roger has never regretted keeping this legacy car. With the money he saved money over the years, he brought the party wagon back to pristine condition. The only change he made was paint – a body man told him “that’s an old man’s color” and Roger took his advice.

Over time, he’s done the mechanicals as well, so the car is probably in better shape than it was back in 1968 when he spoke those famous words, “I’ll take it”.

Varsity Hall is gone now and there’s no word on a Quicksilver Messenger Service reunion tour, but after all those years, Roger still has his beloved Hudson.

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18 Comments on “Car Collector’s Corner: 1948 Hudson. Faithful Party Wagon Since 1968...”

  • avatar

    Quite impressive keeping it alive all these years, you don’t go to the store for parts like that.

  • avatar

    Elegant cars. Very rare they were in Europe. Poor visibility, I’d presume, comparable to contemporary cars.

  • avatar

    What kind of battery is that, with 4 caps/cells?

    • 0 avatar

      That would be an 8V battery, with 33% more starting voltage than the standard 6V battery.

    • 0 avatar

      Going to an 8v tractor battery was something of a halfass way to deal with the many issues of 6 volts. Voltage regulator will usually put up with adjustments for 8v. Modern gas, with the alcohol (boils @ lower temperature) makes things worse.
      I’ve been putting up with various issues on my 6v truck for 28+ years & haven’t really felt much of a need to go to 12v. Well, sometimes.
      Get on Google & try to look up something about 6v & you’ll find that ~80% of the hits are how to change to 12v.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s a company on the web called Foreign Intrigue that sells a fake 6V battery box that holds the Optima 6V battery. The Optima supposidly cures many of the ills of 6V systems. This is popular with the 356 and early VW guys in my PCA region.

  • avatar

    A girl at my high school had one of these. This was in 1970-71. I think it was a ’51 or ’52; it had the inverted “V” in the grille. It was a brownish gold color with a mohair interior. It had been given to her by an uncle. She called it “Henry”

    I rode in Henry a few times, and remember that “he” was very quiet and smooth; with a roomy and plush interior.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    A neighbor in Austin had one back in the seventies , Naturally he was a bit of an eccentric . I believe it was a ’48 , an odd olive metallic sedan . The guy gave me a ride a couple of times . One time I sat in the back seat alone- it was absolutely limo like in size . The interior was totally original and intact . Another time the neighbor gave a GF and me a ride to the lake- that time there were maybe seven people aboard but compared to the dinky college kid cars of the time it was quite comfortable . I always thought that this was one car that looked way cooler as a four door sedan than as a coupe or a hardtop . Totally Buck Rogers , even more than a similiar era Nash.

  • avatar

    My wife’s college car in the late ’60s was a ’49 Buick with a straight eight engine, slushbox transmisssion and split windshield. There was plenty of room in the back seat for her bicycle.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a photo of my brother and me leaning against the front bumper of our ’49 Buick, the first car I can remember. Those old sedans had so much legroom in the back that you could hold a square dance.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Of all the dead independent brands, Hudson has to be my favorite and the one I would most like to own.

  • avatar

    Did Hudson share engines or drive trains with the big 3? If not finding parts must be a challenge.

  • avatar

    My family had a ’48. Dad bought it new I think. My oldest brother wrecked it a couple times. Dad & he fixed it, flipped the tailights and put in a Dodge or something grille. I can remember lying on the ‘parcel shelf’ (try that now days!!!!) and riding around in it. Dad had installed a miniature traffic light in the rear window.
    Red light came on w/ the brakes. Green when he had his foot on the gas. Yellow when he coasted. Got rid of it when I was around 4 years old in 59-or ’60.
    Wish I had it now………………..

  • avatar

    Got the one (chev 210) that I kept in 72 but I haven’t kept it nearly as well as this. One of my favorites from the time I used to see them with the two carb engine winning at the local jalopie races. I don’t think it was engineering that killed Hudson but if that big six had gone to OHV it would have kept up with anything. Clifford got it’s start IIRC because the founder had a Hudson and loved whipping up on the big boys.

  • avatar
    J Sutherland

    Good point on that 8 volt battery.He was advised by a mechanic he trusted to set it up that way and so far so good.

  • avatar

    I bought my first Hudson, a 50 Pacemaker, in 71, the same year I got married. I dragged the old car home, it didn’t run ’cause it had been in a barn since 54. My new wife looked at it skeptically, and said, “Is there anything else I should know about”?

    I still have the Hudson, and I’m still married.


  • avatar

    My uncle was quite the talk of the family when he got his two-tone blue Step-Down Hudson sedan in 1949…quite overshadowed my father’s new Packard the year after.

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