Photos by Larry Edsall
How many Hudson museums do we need? The more the merrier it seems.
Foremost, there’s Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum in Shipshewana, Indiana, which houses the world’s largest collection of Hudson vehicles. A Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Historical Society brochure also points to cars on display at the Hartford Heritage Auto Museum in Wisconsin and at the NATMUS Museum in Auburn, Indiana.
And, as we’ve reported on this website, the Hudson historical group is establishing its own museum as part of Jack Miller’s “last Hudson dealership” museum in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
But there’s yet another display of Hudsons worthy of a visit. This one is located within the Gilmore Auto Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, and is there in large part because Eldon and Esta Hostetler don’t have room for all their cars in the museum they launched in neighboring Indiana.
Eldon Hostetler grew up on a large Amish farm. He was always fascinated by the cars that drove past the farm.
One day, a neighbor, Ervin Yoder, arrived in a 1936 Hudson Terraplane sedan to help Hostetler’s father with the wheat harvest. The car was “tan in color with semi-automatic shifting next to the steering wheel,” Hostetler recalls on his museum’s website, adding that “I was allowed to drive this car several times to go from farm to farm.”
As soon as Hostetler was old enough to get his driver’s license, he bought a used 1938 Hudson.
“My Amish grandfather loaned me $350 to buy the car if I promised not to tell Mother he did this,” Hostetler reports.
Hostetler’s wife also learned to drive on a Hudson and they drove Hudson products until 1954, when the company merged with Nash and became American Motors.
“I have had good fortune in my life, which made it possible to collect old Hudson cars,” Hostetler wrote.
That collection grew to 48 cars, production and special models, including Hudson racing cars, more than enough to fill the 60,000-square-foot museum at the Shipshewana Town Center.
Several of those cars are on loan to the Gilmore museum, and they contribute to an impressive display of Hudson-produced and Hudson-powered vehicles.