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Our Trip to the 100th Anniversary International Meet Pontiac Detroit USA

Courtesy of Carole Wheeler

 After 3 years in the planning and lots of hard work by President Tony, together with Wendy & also Karen at Elite Travel and with lots of excitement, 28 club members, leaving on different flights over about a week, set off in July on our big adventure to attend and celebrate 100 Years of the Hudson Motor Company with the National Rally being held in Pontiac, Detroit USA.

And what an adventure it was. We gathered at the Marriott Hotel in Pontiac, the host Hotel for the week of Hudson Rallying and celebrations. We met up with some of the USA club members that had made the trip to Down Under in 2003, as well as HET members from all over the USA, Canada, South Africa, England and New Zealand. Some US “ralliers” travelling 2 and 3 days to get to the Rally. One New Zealand couple shipped their car to LA and then drove across America in the car to attend the Nationals.

It was an amazing sight as we arrived at the hotel at about 2am one morning, after a long flight from LA, to drive up to the front door of the Marriott and be greeted by several Hudsons' parked at the front doors. There was plenty of excitement as we all arose that morning and headed down stairs to meet up with everyone and to take a walk around  the 3 car parks chock full of Hudsons, Essex, Terraplanes & Nash and to admire the wonderful vehicles.

The cameras were working overtime, and as we wandered more vehicles were arriving, more friendships renewed and more people to meet. What a sight in excess of 450 HET vehicles in one spot and approximately 1500 HET members and family. It was amazing as cars came and went all week, as some left others took their place. After the car park it was a short wander to the swap meet also held on site and which occupied many hours of looking and  finding some treasures that were needed back home to complete those projects. Many boxes were packed and several trips to the post office were made to send purchases back home.

One car park and there were 3 like this, jammed full of HET cars

The week long program was a busy one, but a chance to see some wonderful sights around Detroit, but each day as we arrived back in the bus, it was the mandatory car park walks followed by the swap meet wander just to see if there was anything new that had arrived during the day.

The USA HET Club had put together a wonderful program of events.  We visited the magnificent Henry Ford Museum at Dearborn, covering 12 acres, packed full of the history of America.

We saw past presidents cars, including Roosevelt through to J F Kennedy, and cars of every make and model that refashioned the American way of life. There were horse drawn vehicles and a wonderful Allegheny locomotive engine weighing 600 tonnes, there was furniture including The Lincoln chair, George Washington’s camp bed, machinery, agriculture, visionary architecture with the Dymaxion Home, heroes from the sky and early pioneers, anything and everything that you could think of.

The main display theme at the time was “ Rock stars, cars and guitars”.The display of memorabilia from many of the music industry legends including Elvis, Roy Orbison, etc. with their wonderful cars on display.

We visited the Greenfield Village, and working history of America. Many original buildings dismantled and moved to the Village and rebuilt. We rode the train to get an overall view of the village then walked, rode in T model Ford’s, Buses and horse drawn vehicles as we made our way around the village for the day. There was Henry’s first Ford building, schools, homes, general stores, we posted mail from the post office and some of the girls relived childhood experiences riding the carousel (Merry-go-round).

We visited the Automotive Hall of Fame at Dearborn, where we experienced automotive history through visual & interactive exhibits, automobiles and artefacts. We learnt about the great names of the automotive Industry like Ford, Olds, Edison, Daimler etc.

We took a coach tour around Detroit and viewed the former Hudson Motor Company factory. The building still stands but is unfortunately in a state of immense disrepair. It was amazing to see the total area that this great car manufacturer had occupied.

We travelled in US members cars to attend the Walter P Chrysler Museum where a reception was held in our honour and a chance to view the wonderful museum of cars. Many makes and models were on display, including the “vintage collection” which included DeSoto, Hudson, Nash, Plymouth, Rambler and Willys Overland.  The lower level was called “Boss Chrysler’s Garage” and housed dream machines from ‘50s – ‘70s.

Who will forget the trip to Frankenmuth, founded by German Lutheran immigrants, historical significance combined in a natural, small-town Bavarian-inspired setting and the quaint village of shops? We experienced the Bronner Experience, the largest Christmas shop in the world. Even the men were enchanted with this wonderland.

The HET annual auction was fun. Our club had donated a windscreen banner for the auction. Fierce bidding took place with the winning bid coming from John Clements (USA), price US$45, our club members buy them for about AUD$15. There were lots of bits and pieces donated to the auction by the Aussies including Aussie thongs etc. all drawing great interest and some embarrassment.

Ypsilanti’s Automotive Heritage Museum & Millers Motors Hudson at Ypsilanti, Michigan, was amazing and is funded entirely by private contributions. Jack Miller was the owner of Millers Motors which was the last Hudson dealership and dates back to 1927, there we saw 30 vehicles on display along with Hudson dealer memorabilia. It was great to meet Jack and chat with him.

The girls did a spot of retail therapy some days and didn’t we have a lovely time. Off we went with our obliging Marriott driver & his bus, which we had not trouble filling as soon as word got around that there was a trip going. All the family back home benefiting from some of the shopping as well as our spouses, how much money we saved with all those bargains girls. We won’t forget our Wal-Mart experience in Auburn either.

The Banquet was held on the final night of the Nationals. The huge attendance of 750 necessitated two ballrooms being filled at the Marriott to hold the HET ralliers. We were entertained by the guest speaker, Bill Chapin, grandson of Roy D Chapin (known as the man behind the Hudson Motor Company), sharing his experience & knowledge of the Chapin’s. Many of the Chapin family, including grandchildren and great grand-children were in Pontiac to help celebrate the 100th year Anniversary.

Following the National Meet many of the Australian contingent together with some USA members were lucky enough to be part of a 3 day coach trip. John & Jeannie Clements organised this for us and what a great trip it was. We visited the Gilmore Auto Museum, the Studebaker Museum and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum and of course the Hostetler's Hudson Auto Museum .

We were hosted on the first day of our trip by the Pontius Family at their farm. Son John & his wife Lorrie together with lots of friends prepared a wonderful BBQ for us all. The boys pored over the cars in the barns and sheds as well.

We were also hosted by Glen & Sally Kellogs at their home to view their collection of cars and what surely must be the best collection of Hudson memorabilia in the world.

 We arrived by coach and drove up the long driveway to Glenn & Sally’s home which was lined with Hudsons and Terraplanes from their collection.

 What a sight! We also enjoyed a wonderful lunch provided by the Kellogs family.





President Tony with Sally & Glen Kellogs

 The trip was highlighted by a visit to Hostetler's Hudson Auto Museum at Shipshewana, Indiana, a collection of Hudson, Essex, Terraplane, and Railton automobiles, from a 1909 Hudson Model 6 to a 1956 Hornet Sedan. We were delighted to meet Eldon & Esta Hostetler as this was Eldon’s personal collection of 46 cars collected over 25 years and donated to the Shipshewana community and now housed in this wonderful new Museum in the town center.

After returning to Pontiac from the coach tour, we said goodbyes as some of our touring group were heading back home to Australia; others going onto New York, then LA, before heading home, others were going onto other countries before heading home at a later date. What a wonderful trip was had by all and it will be the topic of conversation for many years to come as we share our wonderful experience.


The touring party at the Kellogs


2009 will go down as a special year as we say ………

Happy 100th Anniversary to the Hudson Motor Company

Happy 50th Anniversary to the HET Club in the USA

And a Happy 40th Anniversary to the Hudson AMC Car Club of Australia Inc.