The recent return of the Miller Dairy’s 1929 Hupmobile car brought a rush of excitement to the Eaton Rapids Area Historical Society (ERAHS). Ken Nicholas, ERAHS board president, was one of the first to find out about the acquisition.
“I had goosebumps,” Nicholas said when he heard the historic vehicle was returning to Eaton Rapids.
The car was listed for sale on Facebook Marketplace. The unusual discovery was made by Ron Isenhath of Eaton Rapids who contacted the ERAHS to let them know it was for sale. It was purchased from the Tom Kinney collection. Kinney owns Kinney Dairy which bought out the Miller Dairy in the 1980s and moved the equipment to Bay City.
“I was glad to see the car come back,” Isenhath said. “It belongs here.”
The Hupmobile was a luxury car, comparable to a Cadillac in it’s day, Nicholas explained. Built in Detroit, it has an all-steel body. The car was hand-painted “vanilla white, Nicholas noted, with obvious brush strokes proving that. The only evidence of its possible original color are the sunshades over the side windows, with the underside of them being a dark green. The odometer reads almost 90,000 miles.
The interior of the car is upholstered in soft brown velvet. The wood-grain dash and doors are ornately detailed. Hand-written index cards are attached to the ceiling near the front windshield with instructions for the driver. “Check Oil Frequently,” “Do not push this car with another car,” “Use jumpers or tow chain,” and “Do not drive this car over 40 MPH.”
Mikey Baker, also on the ERAHS board, made the actual purchase and drove to Bay City to bring the car home. With the recent expense of re-roofing the Miller Barn, the necessary funds weren’t available for the ERAHS to make the purchase, so Baker stepped up to take care of it. The seller was happy to see the car return to Eaton Rapids and pointed out there were 36 others who wanted to buy the car if Baker didn’t.
The Miller Dairy bought the car in 1963 and last licensed it in 1977, according to records, Baker said.
The ERAHS does not plan to restore the car. It runs well. Some of the paint is chipped, and they hope to stabilize that to prevent any further deterioration. The roof may need to be restored with a fabric coating to prevent water seepage.
“This is incredibly exciting! It brings an iconic, historic treasure back into the fold and represents all that’s so great about the Miller brand,” said Mike DeGrow, one of the original founders of the ERAHS.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Mikey Baker who made it all happen.”
The Miller Farm is located at 635 State Street in Eaton Rapids and can be contacted on Facebook, their website Millerfarm.net or by phone at (517) 441-1792.