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 it 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.
He did what most kids did back then-he drove the car everywhere. This car did a lot of weekend party time because in the late 60s Roger lived near a lakeside resort town where the weekend population swelled from under 2000 to nearly 25,000 every weekend.
These were kids who were drawn like a magnet to Varsity Hall-home of the best live rock music within thousands of miles…
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’d 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-not exactly household name bands in the 21st Century. 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 him a ride” He estimated that he left between 5 and 8 people waiting back in the car.
Roger has never regretted keeping this legacy car. He said “as 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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