CANONSBURG – David Sollon doesn’t mind trading his funeral hearse for a Hudson every once in a while.
The director at Sollon Funeral Home in Canonsburg has five classic Hudsons that include two convertibles, a coupe, a pickup truck and a rare paneled delivery van.
Most people passing through would never know of Sollon’s love for classic cars, but it’s actually not too unusual for a funeral home director to have a thing for hot rods and the popular, albeit defunct, Hudson brand.
Sollon knows of two other funeral directors in Pennsylvania and Iowa who belong to the same Hudson club of which he’s a member. And his award-winning 1936 Hudson Terraplane paneled van he recently restored was featured on the front page of last month’s nationally circulated Funeral Home & Cemetery News.
“It’s just something that helps you occupy your time,” Sollon said. “You have to do something. All the fun of it is doing it yourself.”
Sollon says his classic cars hobby rarely comes up during services, even though it’s hard to miss his collection of photos, trophies and die-cast cars around his office. But it’s an unavoidable discussion topic upon stepping into his garages that are bursting with cars, spare parts and Hudson memorabilia.
Inside, he pulled out a photo album showing the burned out and picked apart carcass of a Hudson convertible left for dead at a junkyard that is now in pristine condition. Sollon also recounted how he rebuilt the Terraplane in less than 22 months using tricks such as fabricating a motorcycle wheel hub to fit the van.
“You take a piece of scrap and you feel like you’ve accomplished something,”
But Sollon hasn’t always loved Hudsons. In fact, his father, Louis, was loyal to Oldsmobile, which created a bit of a sibling rivalry in the family since Sollon’s uncle, Bill, bragged about how often Hudsons similar to his won at the local dirt tracks.
“Back then, cars were more important to people than they are now,” Sollon said.
When he had a chance to finally buy his first classic car in 1980, he didn’t mind it was on the wrong side of the family rivalry. He spent just $750 on that 1941 Hudson.
“I just always enjoyed cars. When I got to the point in my life that I could buy one, it happened to be a Hudson,” he said. “It didn’t matter what car it was.”
It’s now become a family tradition. He bought his son, Nick, a Hudson right before his 13th birthday and it soon became a high school project. Nick took it to his high school prom, and the refurbishing left such an impact on him he now works as an engineer.
“Not bad for a couple of amateurs,” David Sollon said. “We’ve learned a lot since then.”
Sollon is slowing down with his restoration efforts after his panel van was one of 40 classic cars to win a national award from the Antique Automobile Club of America earlier this year. For now, he plans to clean up his garage, getting rid of the dust and grime that have accumulated through years of restoring cars.
But he expects catch the classic car bug again soon and be back at restoring a new fleet of Hudsons in his free time.
“They’re like cats,” Sollon said. “If you have one, you want more.”