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Blasts From the Past: The “Orphan” Car Show

Sponsored by the world's last Hudson dealer.

by on Oct.07, 2011

A 1947 Hudson Convertible welcomes visitors to the annual Orphan Car Show.

Jack Miller is a persistent man.  You would expect that of a man who claims to be “the world’s last Hudson dealer.”  For those who don’t recognize the name – brought back by the character Paul Newman voiced in the original animated Pixar film, Cars – Hudson was a once popular automotive brand that vanished in 1954, subsumed by the forever-struggling American Motors.

Miller’s showroom sits in a back corner of Ypsilanti, itself a backwoods suburb of Detroit.  But it has become the anchor of an annual pilgrimage by some of the world’s most serious car-nuts, folks who don’t really concede that brands like Hudson or DeSoto, Packard or Plymouth are gone.  And they’re not during the yearly Orphan Car Show Miller inaugurated in 1997 — just before several of the latest brands, including Oldsmobile and Plymouth, headed for that rust heap in the sky.


It is said that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and for my money there is nothing more appealing than this offbeat gathering, held this year on the last Sunday in September.

This show isn’t the stuff of Social Register types who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars – sometimes millions — acquiring rare classics from the likes of Bugatti or Talbot Lago and then investing still more big bucks having them restored to flawless perfection for display at a Concours d’Elegance like the ones in Pebble Beach and Amelia Island.

Studebaker had a strange way with names, chosing to pair the President (r) with the pre-war Dictator.