ANNA — Dean Hupp, of Wisconsin, considers Hupmobile owners to be infected with what he calls “a disease.”
“It’s kind of a fever type ailment, and once a person gets inoculated with having a Hupmobile, it’s like, this is one of the important things in my life,” Hupp said. “First comes the wife and kids, then the Hupmobile and then everything else.”
Hupp, 86, is a longtime Hupmobile owner and lover of the antique car. His interest in Hupmobiles stemmed from his last name, and the first time he saw a Hupmobile was at a car show in Auburn, Indiana.
His search for a Hupmobile of his own led him to Maryland, where a dentist had found a 1932 Model B four door Sedan in a barn and had completely restored it, save for the front end. Hupp had rented a trailer and truck to retrieve the car and was all set to go when a phone call woke him up at 5 in the morning.
“He says, ‘I can’t sell it! It’s like selling one of my kids! I can’t let it go!’” Hupp said.
Hupp had planned to stop in Hershey, Pennsylvania, after picking up the car, and the dentist had invited him to come see it even though he wouldn’t be selling. For Hupp, even without the front end assembled, the car was beautiful and only further motivated him in his search for a Hupmobile of his own.
By November of the same year, he had found a seller in Decatur, Illinois.
Hupp’s wife hadn’t thought he’d find a car so soon, and when they arrived in Decatur to take a look at the car, they found it unpainted in a basement, with two boxes full of parts sat next to it.
“My wife said, ‘you don’t want to by that car! Look at it! It’s a scrap heap! You don’t even know if the motor turns on!’ So we scoured up a battery, hooked it up, pressed the button, and it started up,” Hupp said. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll get it going.’”
Hupp’s son, Larry Hupp, has a similar passion when it comes to the Hupmobile.
“When I married my wife, at the announcement party I told my in-laws there’s only one thing that’s going to come between me and you,” Hupp said. “I’m gonna mortgage anything I have to buy a Hupmobile, and they said they had no problem with that.”
Hupp, 65, is retired with his wife and enjoys the time they spend going on tours around the country. It gives him the opportunity to meet and connect with other Hupmobile owners, and to him, it’s like having a second family.
“You get to a meet, and you see the people, they all hug you, kiss you on the cheek, say ‘welcome,’ and you’re just a big family. When a new person comes in, we make them feel welcome,” Hupp said.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to owning and maintaining a Hupmobile, for Hupp, is finding parts to repair it.
“You can’t just go to a place and buy a fender for it, like you can for a Model T,” Hupp said. “You’ve gotta figure a way to keep it going. That’s part of the challenge. It’s a headache sometimes, but it’s a rewarding headache.”
Publications like Parts Locator and clubs for owners of antique cars like Hupmobiles help owners find and sell parts. The best thing beyond that, to Hupp, is word of mouth.
“We all communicate with each other. Word goes out if you need a part, and it spreads like a disease. Before you know it, you look at your phone, and it’s someone from Seattle with the parts you need,” Hupp said.
Greg Drufke was living in Chicago when his neighbor’s collection of old cars inspired him to buy a Hupmobile. Even though the 1937 Hupmobile Aerodynamic was in what Drufke described as “pretty bad shape” when he bought it, that didn’t stop him — nor did the 25 years it took him to completely restore it.
“Right now it’s really nice. It’s at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend for the summer, in a special exhibit called Streamlined: Style in Motion,” Drufke said.
The Hupmobile tour this year is hosted out of Piqua and is organized by Clare Dwyer and her husband. Among the stops on this years’ tour include the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta and the National Museum of the US Air Force in Riverside.
The Dwyers are members of the Antique Automobile Club of America and have put on regional tours in the past. In previous years, the Hupmobile tour has taken place in Virginia, San Diego, New York and Pennsylvania.
“They’re just unique, and they have a different feel when you ride in them. They’re just fun to take out, and tour the country, and not go so fast,” Dwyer said. “We live in a world where we’re going 70 miles an hour all the time and it’s kind of nice, occasionally, to go 35, 40, and stop and smell the roses, look around you and see what beautiful countryside we have.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825