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Fred Rodgers

1929 Essex Tourer (Challenger

Yes, it is a beer carton!
For emergency use only!

The model name for these Essex is the ‘Challenger’ as the previous 6 cylinder models (to ’28) were generally known as ‘The Gutless Wonder’.  The earlier (prior 1924) Essex 4’s were pretty powerful for the day & Norman ‘Wizard’ Smith (http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110677b.htm) set many Australian speed records using (modified) Essex (http://www.nectarbrook.com/cars/page4.html).

The year 1929 will always be remembered for the stock market crash that brought on the Great Depression, but it was also the first time the American auto industry produced more than 5,000,000 units.  The Hudson Motor Car Company was ranked third in sales for 1929 and much of that was due to its other car line known as Essex.  Hudson had announced in October, 1917 that Essex Motors had been organized to build a smaller companion car to the firm’s Super-Six. The first Essex appeared in 1919 having been delayed by World War I. With its vibration-free four-cylinder engine it was an immediate success.  The make quickly gained a reputation for good quality, reliability and providing greater interior room.  In 1924 the first Essex Six appeared at price more in keeping with its four cylinder rivals. The sales momentum continued and more and more models appeared.  

From Tony Atkinson, the story of Fred joining the club...

Fred got involved through driving our Roadster to outings when Wendy & I would take a white Terraplane that I had on loan to me for a few years.  I saw his car advertised in Just Cars magazine in about 2002 for what looked to be a reasonable price & showed it to him.  He contacted the owner (in Armidale NSW), was sent a photograph & through a mate of a mate of a mate, we had a guy in Armidale who knew the car ask some questions about the car & then he bought it sight unseen & had it trucked back to Sydney.  The car came with spare parts & I took Fred up with a trailer to collect the parts & the truck carrying the car would have been heading south as we traveled north!

We ended up in Armidale having a few beers with the owner & his neighbour (who is now a member of the club – Steve Wittig) in Steve’s shed drooling over his cars & bikes after we loaded the spares on the trailer.

This car has had very little done to it since Fred purchased it & has proven to be most reliable – starting first time every time!  On the last day of the Parkes Rally in 2003 whilst driving (in convoy) up the main street towards the showground, Fred heard a rattle, bang & then saw flames coming out from under the bonnet!  The generator (mounted below the carbie) had broken its holding bracket flopped around in a shower of sparks & -- bingo.  Fortunately, this happened right in front of a service station so Fred bolted across the road & grabbed the fire extinguisher from beside the bowsers.  He had the car towed into place in our semi circle for the photo shoot prior to trailering it home for some small repairs.  The only other time that I have known the car to let Fred down was one hot day in the past years or so when fuel vaporisation caused it to be returned home in disgrace on a tilt tray.  Oh, & not long after he got the car Fred had the radiator cleaned & repaired by Jeff Fripp & also replaced the head gasket.

From the Editor… Most members know Fred, our former Club Store Manager, and Gerry his mate and driving influence, and we all know they bring a smile to every conversation, their great attitude and outlook is infectious so we all end up smiling too. What more could you ask for? Well…now and again his truck is VERY handy. Every club should have a Fred and Gerry!