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Pat Foster Announces Retirement From Writing

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  • Pat Foster Announces Retirement From Writing

    (Snippet copy - see link for entire story)
    By John Burgeson, Staff Writer

    • Patrick Foster has written 13 books about old cars, and his Hudson book is the most recent. Foster poses in the back yard with his restored 1967 Rambler Rogue in Milford, Conn. on Wedensday December 22, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
      Patrick Foster has written 13 books about old cars, and his Hudson...
    • The cover of Milford, Conn. resident Patrick Foster's new book, Hudson Automobiles, on Wedensday December 22, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
      The cover of Milford, Conn. resident Patrick Foster's new book,...
    • Hudson had its hay day in the late 1940s and early 1950s when it came out with its low-slung "step down" styling. This is a 1951 Hudson Commodore convertible. Photo: Contributed Photo / Connecticut Post Contributed
      Hudson had its hay day in the late 1940s and early 1950s when it...
    • By 1954 the Hudson car company, battered by competition from Ford and Chevrolet, had no choice but to merge with Nash Rambler to form American Motors. After this point, Hudsons were little more than re-badged Ramblers. This Hudson Rambler station wagon is from 1955. Photo: Contributed Photo / Connecticut Post Contributed
      By 1954 the Hudson car company, battered by competition from Ford...
    MILFORD -- To stand on a busy street corner in 1950 meant seeing a parade of shiny, new cars with names that seem strange today -- Nash, Studebaker, Kaiser, Packard, Rambler and Hudson.
    Each one of these cars, the so-called "orphans" in car-collector parlance, has fans who lovingly maintain the few that have escaped the scrap metal dealer. The man who has chronicled the ups and downs of these independent car companies by writing 15 books on them, Pat Foster of Milford, says that his new book, "Hudson Automobiles," will be his last.
    "I had about 10 more books in me," he said. Now, he works for New York Life.
    "The collector car writing business has been really bad," Foster said. "You would be surprised how many car magazines -- I counted 16 -- that have gone out of business -- 16 in the last year-and-a-half. Even some big ones, like Cars & Parts magazine."
    The reasons for this are manifold. Aside from a poor economy, there has been a migration from print to digital content in the publishing industry. There also seems to be fewer car-crazy guys growing up these days. Not only are there fewer people interested in busting their knuckles in the innards of a '49 Nash, but there are fewer willing to pay to read about the hobby, too.
    "When I was a kid, we were a Buick family, the house next door always had Chevies, the guy across the street always had Fords. And the guy behind us -- the screwball in the neighborhood ---- always had Ramblers." Foster said. "You'll never hear anyone today say, `We're a Kia family.' "
    Still, these independents -- the makes that were mopped up by the Big Three in the 1950s and '60s -- have had a fascination with Foster. His books include "Studebaker: The Complete History," "AMC Performance Cars 1951-1983," and "American Motors: The Last Independent." He's regarded as the foremost authority on the American Motors Corporation.
    Hudson was one of dozens of car companies that had its start in the early 20th century, when all of the carmakers were relatively small. It was named not after the river nor the explorer, but rather after J.L. Hudson, owner of Detroit's Hudson Department Store, the new car company's major investor.
    The most memorable Hudsons were the so-called "step-down" models produced from 1948 through 1954. Welding the floor pan under the frame instead of above it gave Hudson a low-slung, road-hugging stance. The upper-end Hornet model, powered by a huge flathead six with twin carburetors, was the terror of the street, and the car dominated the NASCAR racing scene in the early 1950s. Its enviable reputation as a "bad boy's car" was well-deserved.
    Foster said that the appeal of the independents, and Hudson in particular, was that they were forced to do more with less.
    "They had to hit a home run with every new innovation and body style," he said. "They couldn't afford a clinker like an Edsel or a Pontiac Fiero."
    But the 1953-54 price war between Ford and Chevrolet delivered a body blow to the independent makes that left them bruised and broken.
    "If you look at the sales numbers, they all were doing well until mid-1953," Foster said. "By the end of 1953, Hudson was losing buckets of money, and at Studebaker, red ink was just pouring out of the doors. Packard was bleeding. Then it got worse in 1954, and even Nash was losing money."
    By the time the smoke cleared in 1955, Nash, Rambler and Hudson merged to form American Motors, Packard was absorbed by Studebaker and Kaiser had to close up shop.
    The last Hudson-badged car -- and by then they were all restyled Ramblers -- came off the assembly line in 1957.
    As for the other surviving independents, Studebaker struggled on until 1967, and American Motors was dissolved in 1987 after it was bought by Chrysler.
    Foster says it's always a sad day when a carmaker closes up for good. "When these brands disappear, to a lot of guys, it's like the death of a friend."

    Read more:
    HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)


    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

    Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)

  • #2
    Excellent article! Thanks for posting, way to true.



    • #3
      Pat Foster was at the NE Zone Meet and it was a pleasure to have a chat with him. His encyclopedic knowledge of automobiles reminds me of Tom McCahill and Ken Purdy. It is hoped he does at least some occasional writing. Thanks for posting.
      "Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional." author unknown


      • #4
        I always read Pat's column in HCC, and while I disagreed with him once or twice on some Studebaker issues, when I met him in person at Reedsville a couple years back I enjoyed him a lot...a regular guy. Spoke to him a good bit this past year at Reedsville too. As I said, real nice guy.

        I knew he got a "regular" job as he said he had.

        Too bad about no more books; he is a talent.
        Bill Pressler
        Kent, OH
        (formerly Greenville, PA)
        Currently owned: 1966 Cruiser, Timberline Turquoise, 26K miles
        Formerly owned: 1963 Lark Daytona Skytop R1, Ermine White
        1964 Daytona Hardtop, Strato Blue
        1966 Daytona Sports Sedan, Niagara Blue Mist
        All are in Australia now


        • #5
          That's really too bad. I often enjoy his work and perspective. I always learned something new from his articles, as well. I hope his new job works out well for him and it's a decent paying new gig. Tough these days to give up what you love.

          Having to retire from writing for personal or economic reasons... and knowing when to... are two different realizations. Many aren't aware that they are their only fans and it's time to pack it in. Pat has many fans and I'll bet he will write again. Hey, you can't even write the Bible without critics! Good luck, Pat.


          • #6
            It is always a sad thing when a good pen is laid down. It is hard to do that, so barnlark may be correct about that pen being refilled and put back to use. I hope so.
            Joe Roberts
            '61 R1 Champ
            '65 Cruiser
            Eastern North Carolina Chapter


            • #7
              Truely sad, One of the greatest, I have enjoyed much of his work and when I get my HCC his colum is the very first thing I read (unless a Studebaker or Packard is on the cover)... I am really bummed,