The story of the 1917 Hudson Super Six 'Special'
INSPIRED by a love of speed, history and a passion for real race cars, this story begins in 1991 on a 40 degree day in Western Victoria. It was there that Quentin Sykes retrieved this Hudson from a farmer's paddock and brought it all home to the suburb of Ferny Creek located east of Melbourne nestled deep in the Dandenong Rangers.
The hours disappeared planning, sourcing, calculating and experimenting. Ongoing reading, researching and countless conversations with many others. Then the hard work truly began. Sorting, stripping and reclaiming hundreds of parts both large & small with the wonderful assistance of molasses baths and a great deal of elbow grease. The project evolved and the Hudson began to emerge from the piles of rusty metal and iron.
Over the next 24 months the Hudson was transformed into the racecar you see today. Although vehicles like this are an indefinite work in progress, the bulk of what you see was achieved in the first two year period and the Hudson drove out of the garage under its own steam on the 12th April 1993. The body was entirely remanufactured as closely and as accurately as possible in line with the four original Hudson racecars built in 1917 for the race circuit around the USA at the time. This included the Indianapolis 500 where the Hudson's finished the year in 8th position outright in 1919.
The engine is an original 1917 Hudson Super Six side valve with its capacity being 289ci. A custom Head Assembly was engineered and manufactured by Ruggero Giannini to improve a number of aspects of the performance and reliability of the engine. A full pressure oil system was also developed again improving the performance & reliability of this engine. Twin era correct Hudson carburetors were sourced (rare find) and installed as per the Hudson factory for their four "specials” in the day.
Fact to note - In 1917 Hudson were the first Motor Company to introduce the "counter balanced” crankshaft. Many other manufacturers followed their lead within a 12 month period. Hudson was also one of the first to introduce a distributor when most others at the time were still utilizing a magneto.
The gearbox is also an original 1917 Hudson lovingly and fully rebuilt. Holinger Engineering in Victoria were engaged to remanufacture a full set of gears while calculating and manufacturing a wider ratio for both 1st and 2nd gear.
Although the original Hudson rear axle has been removed and replaced with a Ford 9” housing & center, a great deal of engineering has taken place to maintain both the era correct Hudson rear axles and hub assemblies. This has allowed us to accommodate the correct wheel assemblies for the project.
In 1917 this Hudson had rear brakes only, forgoing any form of front wheel braking. For safety reasons our Hudson front axle has therefore been removed into storage and a Mercedes Benz front I-Beam axle has been installed from the same era. This enables the installation of front brakes. Each of the front brake drums were sand cast and machined as a "one off” for this project and they do function very well as per design.
Every aspect of this 1917 Hudson build has been well engineered and lovingly implemented with great attention to detail. This has led to the creation of a very loyal and accurate tribute to one of the four original Hudson Specials manufactured by the Motor Company in 1917. Only one of the original Hudson racecars is known to still exist and this car may be found in the Samsung Transportation Museum, near Seoul in South Korea to this day.
There are only a very small handful of 1917 Hudson Super Six Special "recreations” around the globe and this Hudson here is the only known example in Australia. All others tend to be located in England & the USA where they may be seen in attendance at historic race circuits including Goodwood Motor Circuit situated near Chichester, West Sussex, close to the south coast of England.
This story was contributed by Kentronics for the lead up to the 2019 Wondai Street Sprints.
The event will be held from April 13 to 14.