2003 Totcky Award Winner
Submitted by Ray H.
One of the cars in his collection was a 1951 Hudson Hornet with a strange looking contraption attached to the engine. Literature in the glove box revealed that it was a gas economizer that had been marketed in the ‘50s to increase gas mileage.
After returning home, Ray continued to think about the Hornet so he called and asked Dave if he would be willing to sell the car. When Dave agreed, Ray told Dave he’d like to take another look at the car. Ray and Bob B. drove to Boaz to look at the car again and spent much of the day trying to get the car running, but it was not to be. So Ray decided to forego the car.
In November 2002, Randy and Nell received word that Dave was ill and was planning to sell all the remaining cars and trucks in his collection. They called Ray and he said he was still interested in the Hudson. In February 2003 they made a trip to Boaz to visit with Dave and look at the remaining vehicles, including the 1951 Hornet. The Hornet was sitting sadly neglected in a corner of one of Dave’s garages.
After looking at all the vehicles and parts that Dave had for sale, Ray made arrangements to buy the Hornet.
On March 10, 2003, Ray, Nell, and Bob made the trip to Boaz to haul the Hudson home to Ray’s garage and thus began the task of saving another old car. The Hornet was complete and despite being from the Midwest was a very solid 52-year old car. The right front fender was dented, so Ray removed it to make it easier to work out the dent.
Of course, the car had been sitting for over 20 years and the engine had no compression due to stuck valves. Ray began by grinding the valves and replacing the pistons and rings. (The engine work was made easier by the fact that he had removed the fender.) While he had the engine apart he also replaced the timing chain. He added an electric fuel pump and then reworked the brake system by replacing wheel cylinders, cleaning brake drums, and replacing brake shoes.
Once Ray had the car driveable and running “swell” (as he likes to say), he took it for new tires. During all of this time, Randy O. had been cleaning and polishing chrome and stainless. Next, came the task of stripping off several layers of paint and primer. Ray selected paint for a two-tone paint job and proceeded to paint the car.
He and Nell did squeeze in time for a trip to Sir’s Fabrics in Fayetteville to look for fabrics for the car’s interior. Ray felt he had enough to do with painting the car so he and Nell then made a trip to Upholstery Plus in Hartselle to take the seats and door pads to be reupholstered.
Once the painting was complete, the windows were cleaned, the right rear window glass replaced, and the car was totally washed to remove any dust or excess polish before beginning the job of replacing the trim and upholstery.
Ray liked the look of the trim on a ’52 Hornet and decided to add some of those pieces to his ’51. That necessitated a trip to Shelbyville, TN for trim parts and some re-engineering (the shape of the rear window glass was not the same which meant that some pieces of the moulding had to be altered and holes drilled for the moulding clips).
With most of the trim completed, it was time to clean the dash and install headliner, carpet, door pads, and seats. While Ray (with some help from Nell and his friend Ed A.) worked on this, Randy was busy re-wiring headlights and taillights and cleaning and painting horns, air cleaner, inner fender panels, radiator shroud, etc.
In October 2003, less than seven months after bringing it home, Ray was proud to show the Hornet at the Courtland Car Show.