When David Hudson and Jeanie Givens tied the knot at a Nashville car show last year, their connubial union drew attention and applause for another reason they hadn’t entirely expected.
Visitors and judges took note of the Marmet couple’s 1956 Ford Panel, a vehicle they entered that took the Best in Class Award at the Grand National F-100 Reunion for the second consecutive year.
Hudson owns and operates Hudson Auto Service in Marmet. The Marmet native and resident has restored automobiles for pleasure and professionally for decades (he opened his shop in 1988), but the ‘56 Ford Panel is drawing special, far-reaching acclaim.
For instance, Hudson and Givens’ renovated truck will be featured on a segment of a MotorTrend Network television program airing nationally on July 27 and 28.
The Panel has achieved the TV treatment by also claiming the Best in Class trophy at the Nashville F-100 reunion in 2017, as well as the Mayor’s Choice Award at last year’s Charleston Boulevard Doo Wop and Rod Run competition, among others.
Hudson began renovating the Panel off and on four years ago, with about a year-and-a-half total labor invested, he said.
“It belonged to a couple of school teachers, a man and wife who lived here in Marmet and traveled around the country in it,” he said. “It wasn’t a rust bucket; it had been kept in a garage. It was a solid body. It originally had come from South Carolina. Basically, I started with the back half of the body and built it from scratch.”
He and Allen White did the body work, he said.
“I did the mechanics to it, building it,” Hudson said.
He began competing for awards with the Panel two years ago. It captured its first award at a car show at the state Capitol in 2017, followed by a Top 20 finish at a Friends of Coal car show in Beckley.
While the second Best of Class award in Nashville last year was hoped for, he said their wedding there was planned in advance.
The modifications have also won praise for the Panel. For instance, Hudson replaced the original engine with a 550-horsepower, 2012 Shelby GT-500 version. Admirers also commend the gray color he chose and his nephew used for the exterior.
Hudson and Givens intend to keep competing with the Panel. They took the Panel to a Good Guys car show in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend.
As for the attention his hard work and craftsmanship on the Panel have attracted, Hudson said, “If I thought it was going to do as well as it’s done,” he said, laughing, “I would have done it a lot better.”
Hudson Auto Service, along with the Town of Marmet and Givens Machine Shop, sponsored the inaugural Harold Givens Memorial Car Show in Marmet in early June. Jeanie is the daughter of Givens, who founded Givens Machine Shop on Hunt Avenue on Charleston’s West Side 60 years ago. Hudson said the first-time show was a success, attracting about 130 vehicular entries.
Not resting (or rusting) on his laurels with the Panel’s continuing fame, Hudson said he is currently restoring a 1969 Jaguar at his home.
Hudson Auto Service is located at 9917 MacCorkle Ave. in Marmet. Hudson said visitors are welcome to come by during operating hours to see the ‘56 Panel for themselves.
For more information about the business and available auto restoration and others services, call 304-949-3316.