Delta Coach Company - 1940s - Detroit, Michigan
Delta Coach Company built a single 1946 Hudson Super Eight Ambulance, It was a on-off built by Don Rice using two standard Hudson four-door sedans on a stretched chassis. Additional features include a top-hinged rear door that combined the stock rear-window with the trunk-lid and also featured a vinyl roof. Hudson was reportedly interested in constructing 50 more, but with the re-tooling for the step-down in full swing by then, the project was abandoned. SIA# 168 pp61
1946 Hudson Ambulance SIA #170, March/April 1999 pp 60
For many years, Jack Miller ran the world's last operating Hudson dealership (see 8IA #80) and edited the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club's excellent magazine White Triangle News. These days Jack is devoting most of his energy to the new Ypsilanti (Michigan) Automotive Heritage Collection Museum, which celebrates and interprets the long automotive heritage of "ypsi" (Tucker, Saxon, Ace, and the cars and components built at Willow Run: Kaiser, Frazer, Henry J, HydraMatic and Corvair among them). Jack can still answer most Hudson questions right off the top of his head, though.
He immediately recognized the "Truth or Bare" stretch-Hudson ambulance featured in "Lost and Found," 8IA #168. He sent me copies of a series on the car he ran in WTN back in 1992. Builder Bon Rice told Jack that he came up with the idea for a stretched ambulance with rear lift gate, perhaps the first "hatchback," and shopped it around to various manufacturers in 1946. Of the carmakers he visited, only Hudson took the bait, and furnished Rice with a '46 Super Eight sedan painted gunmetal gray. It had a front seat, but no interior, and the Police-Taxi package with heavy duty clutch, oversize generator, and heavier springs and shocks.
Don Rice was part owner of a garden tool manufacturing company in Delta, Ohio, so he called his fledgling enterprise Delta Coach Company. He cut the Hudson in half, added three feet to the frame, and extended the driveshaft and emergency brake cables. He recalls Hudson as being very helpful in providing body pieces to complete the stretched car. The Hudson managers were impressed with the completed vehicle, and went so far as to publish a bulletin to distributors advising the availability of these conversion units, which were priced at $2,125 (plus the cost of the basic Hudson).
Apparently, an order was received from a Polish war relief agency for 50 vehicles, but Delta Coach Company was unable to follow through on building them. The ambulance shown in SIA # 168 was eventually sold to the American Ambulance Company of Toledo, Ohio, was wrecked, then repaired. It was then purchased by a funeral director in southeastern Michigan, after which Don lost track of it.
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