GALLERY: Go Behind The Scenes On Our 1930 Hudson Great Eight Film Shoot
When Heidi Hetzer sold her company and effectively took her retirement, the German adventuress had a talk with her children. They asked her, “Mamma, you’ve packed up and sold your business now. You don’t have that much work now. What do you want to do?”
A good question, and one that many of us never find a genuine answer to in our lifetimes. Heidi had an inkling of what lay in store for her future though, and even though she was 77 years old at the time of answering it she had always been fond of travel, so why not take a road trip? Not just any cross-country trek would do though, for Heidi wanted to see the world—all of it. Inspired by her countrywomen Clärenore Stinnes, the first woman (the first person for that matter) to travel the world by automobile, Heidi set out on her own version of the global drive. Petrol stations and new roadways had cropped up in numbers since that early voyage undertaken by Stinnes, and Heidi didn’t want to do a direct copy-cat version of the route taken so long ago by the 27-year-old Stinnes.
When it came time to select the mode of this massive test of transportation, Heidi did want to honor the original drive, and so she chose a machine with appropriate heritage and age: a 1930 Hudson Great Eight. With just two doors and 60PS to power it along to a manufacturer-claimed top speed of 60km/h (Heidi’s has an updated cylinder head though, and she’s gotten hers to cross the 100km/h mark), the rather ancient automobile was not the ideal car to cross the five continents Heidi’d planned on visiting, but it was not about doing the drive in modern comforts, it was about the experience.
And what an experience. Countless mountain ranges, lake beds, rivers, oceans, and hordes and hordes of trees filled her tilt-up windshield, but despite the majesty of Mother Nature and the scenery to die for Heidi says with utmost certainty that it was the human element that defined the best moments of her trek. People had asked her with worry-wrinkled brows “Aren’t you afraid?” But of course she was not, for the people she met along the way proved to be nothing but extraordinarily friendly and helpful.
She wasn’t always so lucky to have helping hands at the ready though, and many of the repairs that followed the breakdowns were performed by herself on the side of the road. She almost lost a few fingers during one such misadventure, and she is quick to mention her unpreparedness from the outset of the drive. You live and learn though, and even when she was diagnosed with cancer and had to fly home to Germany to have her operations, her spirit remained a burning pilot light of curiosity and drive. After the voyage came to its conclusion, you’d expect someone like this—anyone really—to have had their fair share of cars, but Heidi says with a laugh and a smile that she’d happily do it all over again, every bit.