When we ran into Will Hudson at the Southeastern Nationals in Charlotte last October, his brown and beige '50 Ford was wearing a little yellow sticker on the driver-side headlight, indicating it was just a few hours away from winning a Goodguys award.
This was the first show for the recently completed shoebox, and Will-like every other participant there-was eager to show off the custom he'd built. In addition to getting a little personal glory, Will was also hoping that this two-tone sedan would be a good rolling promotion for Hudsons Rod & Customs, his custom car shop in eastern Tennessee.
It's pretty cool when you can turn your passion into a money-making business, especially when it's in collaboration with somebody who has been a lifelong influence. Homer Hudson is Will's dad and partner in the shop. Will grew up watching Homer build rods and drag cars. Now, they work on customers cars together-and the occasional personal project, like this one.
Will was working on a real rough '51 Chevy Fleetline when a customer called with a lead on a '56 Ford pickup and a '50 Ford sedan. Homer and the customer drove to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to check them out, and came home with both. The customer wanted to finish the pickup first, but Will kept coming up with ideas for the '50. He talked the customer into selling him the car and talked illustrator Jason Rushforth into creating a concept drawing based on those ideas. "I told him I wanted something edgy, and this is what we came up with," he told us.
The car was in good shape, so Will could get busy shaving and filling holes and turning the Ford into the custom he'd imagined.
Some of the best customs are cars that mix differing themes in one car to create something unique. Of course, some of the worst customs do that, too. It's a tricky way to go, and you have a disaster if things don't go right. If they do, you have a gem that blends a lot of contemporary style with a lot of traditional cues, like this one does. Will not only managed to make the blend work, he carried it over to every part of the car, so the exterior, interior, and engine compartment all go together.
The sedan was completed in a year and a half. That's quick work considering Will spent all his days building cars for customers, and had to come up with the energy to spend an additional six or eight hours wrenching on his personal project after the shop was closed for the night. His family and friends were all supportive, and in addition to his dad, Homer, Will got help from Pig Smith, Dave Walker, Al Bettner, and Abby Hudson. Now, his shoebox is hitting more shows, earning more yellow stickers, and covering a few miles.