Keeping Pace with the Best: Frank Kilton and the Legacy of MADMAC
Sep 25, 2020 04:04PM
By J.D. Avant
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Frank Kilton’s 1950 Hudson Pacemaster Club Coupe is more than a vintage vehicle. The 54-year-old surgical device sales representative refers to his Hudson Coupe as an orphan car—an automobile no longer produced by its manufacturer.
Orphaned for nearly 70 years, Kilton’s Hudson has been a part of his family for the past 19 years.
“I got that car home the day after my oldest daughter, Mackenzie, came home from the hospital,” he said, recalling a two-year negotiation on price with the car’s original owner in Belmond, Iowa.
“It was very well-kept, rust-free, and an excellent candidate for restoration,” Kilton said. “It was only used in Shriner’s parades according to the original owner.”
Kilton tried to buy the car after meeting the gentleman, but they couldn’t come to an agreement on price. He periodically talked to the original owner, and two years later they agreed upon a selling price.
“I restored the car and had another daughter named Madison. Since it’s been in our family, we nicknamed the Hudson MADMAC in relation to my two daughter’s first three [letters of their first names].”
MADMAC immediately catches the onlooker’s eyes with its pristine, frame-off Rosa Corsa red paint job provided by B Street Collision Center.
The interior complements the body, with custom pleated-and-rolled Leatherette upholstery featuring stock seat-springs draped in a Moda Red and Dove Gray color-scheme.
Kilton relishes every chance to drive MADMAC to regional car shows and fundraising events, cruising along the highways on wide whitewall radial tires with Spider hubcaps mated to chrome reverse wheels. Custom finishes include Zoomies pipes peeking out underneath the rocker panels.
“Even with the rarity and extreme restoration, the car is still driven to every show in the Midwest,” Kilton said proudly. “I purchased it with 42,000 miles, and added around 6,000 miles since the last restoration.”
The rebuilt Hudson Hornet engine features vintage speed parts manufactured by Clifford Research, including high-performance shaved headers to increase compression and dwarf the previous 87 mph top rate.
“The original drivetrain and six-cylinder chambered exhaust gives it a unique rumbling tone that is music to your ears,” Kilton said. “The speed parts contribute to additional high-end speed, including a factory three-speed overdrive transmission. The car will go 110 mph.”
Kilton’s good friend and fellow collector Jacob Wertzgerber is a 32-year-old Union Pacific IT executive with an impressive automobile collection, including a 1950 Packard, a 1980 Mercedes 280E, and an immaculate 1959 Lincoln Continental.
The young collector admires Kilton’s appreciation for classic design and approach towards restoration.
“The thing that stands out to me the most is that Hudson is very tastefully done,” Wertzgerber said. “Frank keeps the car looking 90% original, but the stuff he does modify has a flair for period correctness. He doesn’t have a lot of ‘year 2,000’ digital this and that.”
Kilton’s attention to old-school detail and speed-parts pays respect to the Hudson Hornet’s history as a racer.
“A lot of people see that type of car and think of Doc Hudson from the movie Cars,” Wertzgerber said.
“The Hudson was significant because of that step-down design,” Wertzgerber continued. “It was the first time an automobile manufacturer had a lower, sleeker design. While the Hudson didn’t adapt V8 engines early, the way they handled and maintained speed allowed them to be very competitive in the early days of racing.”
MADMAC may be built for speed, but the exquisite automobile is also suited for feature photo shoots in magazines. It was in Car Craft Magazine in 2010 and Hot Rod Magazine in 2011. Kilton is most proud of local recognition, including a top award won at the Joslyn Castle Classic in 2012.
“I won a beautiful Swarovski crystal bowl trophy, and got great accolades from astute car collectors,” Kilton recalled.
Kilton also drives his cherished vehicle for newlywed couples requesting escorts to their receptions, and accepts invitations from model agencies to use the car in photo shoots. He owns multiple collector’s cars, but MADMAC is special.
“The Hudson is one of Frank’s most impressive vehicles,” Wertzgerber said. “It’s the one he loves the most and I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”
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This article was printed in the October/November 2020 issue of B2B Magazine.