Heidi Hetzer’s 1930 Hudson Great Eight “Hudo” at the Hemmings gas station. Photos by Crystal Conwill.
Heidi Hetzer is already famous in her native Germany for her automotive exploits, and as reported last month by Richard Lentinello, she is now gathering international renown as she circumnavigates the globe behind the wheel of her 1930 Hudson Great Eight sedan, nicknamed “Hudo.” Last Friday, as promised, she wheeled into the Hemmings gas station, along with her son Dylan, just after closing time at the editorial offices to pay us a visit.
Heidi flashed her winning smile a lot during her visit. Injured hand notwithstanding, she’s clearly enjoying her journey.
“I just want the cheap stuff,” she says, as she grabs the pump handle ahead of the station attendant and begins to fill Hudo’s tank with 87-octane, taking care to keep the rate of transfer slow enough to avoid splashing fuel back out of the filler neck. The car’s original flathead straight eight resides underhood and has undoubtedly seen worse fuel between surviving the Great Depression and its recent travels across Central Asia.
The current engine is actually the second powerplant used on Heidi’s intercontinental journey, as it was still with the rebuilder when she left Berlin in July 2014 on what is shaping up to be a two-year excursion. The inaugural engine, taken untested from a second ’30 Hudson parts car, holed a piston in Uzbekistan, but made it all the way to Australia before being replaced with the now-rebuilt original engine.
Heidi sounds just like any other old-car enthusiast when she describes, with some exasperation, the delays in getting her engine from the rebuilder and the strange noises emanating from the crankshaft when it was started up in Melbourne. Nevertheless, the trip has continued and the Hudson sounded in fine fettle—we speculated, and Heidi and Dylan concurred, that whatever was wrong has “worn in” from the mileage.
The Hudson’s blue paintwork makes a perfect background for the world map recording the intercontinental adventure of Heidi and Hudo.
As with any car racking up the miles, Hudo has left some pieces behind in his travels and delayed the journey while repairs were made. In Canada, Heidi says with a laugh, “it was his turn to wait for me.” Heidi was wiping oil off the underside of the Hudo’s running engine in an effort to locate a stubborn leak, when the rag she was holding got too close to the distributor shaft and injured her right hand quite severely. She has not let it slow her down much and was stirring the Hudson’s old three-speed quite effectively despite bulky bandages.
Due to his mother’s injury, Heidi’s son Dylan flew in from Berlin to join her for the leg of her journey through eastern North America where he is serving as her social media director and IT manager while her dominant hand is on the mend.
When Heidi departed, she was still hoping to find a ferry to Cuba so she could drive Hudo in the island’s time-warp traffic.
It was wonderful to see Heidi, Hudo and Dylan, and we were very pleased to learn that Hedi is a longtime fan of Hemmings Motor News. In fact, whenever she has visitors from the States she only asks for two things: “Corn chips and Hemmings!”
Safe travels, Heidi, and thanks for stopping by.