Shipshewana Car Museum Inc. to garner nearly $4M from Hudson auction

GEOFF LESAR | THE GOSHEN NEWSBill Vaillancourt, of Goshen, peers inside a Hudson during the Aug. 4 auction at the former Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum in Shipshewana.

SHIPSHEWANA — Shipshewana Car Museum Inc. will garner nearly $4 million following a record-breaking auction of classic Hudson automobiles.

John Kruse, of host Worldwide Auctioneers, offered the figure by phone Friday, part of the roughly $7.5 million generated from the Aug. 4 event, which included a 10 percent buyer premium required of each winning bidder.

Shipshewana Town Manager Bob Shanahan said the auction house is expected to transfer at least part of the money by Monday. Before the town sees any of the funds, Shanahan said loose ends will need to be tied with Blue Gate Holdings, which owns the facility at 760 S. Van Buren St. that housed the former Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum.

“Once everything is finalized and things are taken care of in terms of leases and other final payments that need to be made, then I believe the Shipshewana Museum Inc. will be dissolved and then the money from the auction will be then transferred to the town,” Shanahan said Friday. “It will go into a specific fund that the town would then be able to look at in regard to being able to disperse any funding from it.”

Shanahan emphasized the town hasn’t considered a destination for the funds “in any way, shape or form.”

The late Eldon and Esta Hostetler collected the cars for more than 30 years. The couple donated a large part of their collection to the town of Shipshewana, where the vehicles were housed in the museum at the former Town Center.

In 2017, the Shipshewana Town Council sold the Town Center. Earlier this year, the museum board, which has a majority membership of Town Council members, voted to liquidate the collection, citing the high cost to maintain it.

“We were very pleased with Worldwide Auctioneers,” Shanahan said. “We had a selection of six auction houses that we could have chosen. They did present pretty well, and from my position representing the town as town manager, I was very pleased with the way it was conducted.”

Sixty-nine vehicles and assorted memorabilia under the hammer produced the staggering total, including $1.265 million for the last and only known Hudson factory “Fabulous Hudson Hornet” NASCAR racer in existence, a 1952 Hudson Hornet 6 “Twin-H Power.”

The car was owned and driven by NASCAR legend Herb Thomas, and is now the most expensive Hudson ever sold.

Host company Worldwide Auctioneers said bidding broke 32 additional records. A 1955 Hudson Italia sold for a record $682,000, and a 1937 Railton Special Limousine with one-off coachwork by Rippon Brothers sold for $462,000.

“I would say that out of local interest, if Eldon’s goal was loving Hudsons and elevating Hudsons, we weren’t just setting but shattering most of those 32 records,” Kruse said. “… I think it’s appropriate to say we’ve solidified Eldon’s legacy in the automotive world.”

Geoff Lesar can be reached at or 574-533-2151, ext. 307.

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