Since 1908, when it was first seen on the streets of New York, the distinctive 1947 Hudson yellow cab has multiplied to such numbers that it sometimes seems to be the only car on Broadway or Fifth Avenue. It was made even more indelible with Joni Mitchell’s hit song called “Big Yellow Taxi” in 1970. Martin Hill’s 1947 Hudson is also big and yellow, but likely not from New York. Hill lives in Lund and while he seldom comes into Powell River his car is recognizable anywhere.
Why did you buy a 1947 Hudson?
I was looking for something from the early-to-mid ’50s, but nothing very specific. At the time I was driving a 1952 GMC truck, which was very nice, but I wanted a car. I was just looking around. I wasn't sure what I was looking for until I saw this ad for a ’47 Hudson taxi down in Sechelt and I knew it was what I'd been looking for.
What kind of shape was it in when you bought it?
It was about 90 per cent complete and that's a good thing, because these projects can take a lot of time and patience, and I'm running out of both, so it was in running condition. It needed some work under the hood and a little interior work, relatively minor stuff, so I was looking to pick it up in pretty good condition. It is a bright yellow cab with the checkered trim. It still has the original meter inside.
If not from New York, where does it come from?
I know it came via Saskatchewan but I had some indication from a guy I was talking to down in the Unites States that it had been in Philadelphia and could well have been a cab there. It was probably retired there and then these guys got it in Saskatchewan and pretty well wrecked it.
What do you use it for?
My own entertainment, mostly. I also use it for fundraising. Everything I take goes to a fund at the local SPCA. I don't take any money for anything I do, but being in Lund during the summer we get a lot of visitors coming by to enjoy the village and I'm pretty well-known. It's part of the Lund experience.
Why did you choose a car from 1947?
It's my kind of era; I was born in ’42. The styling and everything of the late ’40s and ’50s, I just find it very attractive and creative in lots of ways. It's very comfortable, the back seat is like a couch.
What reaction do you get from people?
There must have been thousands of photographs taken of the car and me throughout the summer because I get stopped all the time for pictures. I kind of complete the experience: I have a taxi driver's cap and yellow t-shirt that says “taxi” on it. It's part of the visitors’ experience. It really is a fun vehicle and quite the eye-catcher.