That was until just over two years ago when she retired at the age of 77 and opted to sell the car dealership as neither of her two children was keen on taking it over. But the decision worried her offspring. “They said: ‘Mama, you die if you don’t go to work. What are you going to do?’ ” Well I thought I would drive a little more rallies and then I thought: Oh, maybe I go around the world like Clärenore. ”
But what vehicle to take? Heidi’s has no shortage of cars in her 13-strong personal collection – which spans everything from a 1909 Opel and an Hispano-Suiza H6 to a late-’50s Corvette. She’s also got a few Opel Mantas and an Opel Calibra. One of the latter would’ve made sense from a reliability and comfort point of view but Heidi wasn’t going to cop out. “I cannot drive her roads as they are all gone but at least I like to have that feeling. What she had in an old car. That’s the only thing I can do again.”
As a 1921 model, Heidi’s Hispano certainly ticked the box, but its construction made it far from ideal. “My friends said: ‘Heidi, the engine is all aluminum. You will not be able to fix it on the other side of the world.’ ” She was also worried about the image it would portray. “With the Hudson, everyone’s happy and waving but the Hispano is in a different group. It’s like a Rolls-Royce – they would say, ‘Look, the lady is driving a Rolls-Royce.’ ” In the end an online advertisement for a more humble and wonderfully original 1930 Hudson Eight caught her eye.
“It was built in Detroit and sent to Norway when new. It ended up in a museum. Later it was brought to Germany and someone drove it for 30 years and then the owner died and his daughter put it up for sale on the internet and nobody wanted it for six years,” says Heidi, who bought the eight-cylinder two-door sedan a few months before the trip.
Heidi’s Great Eight – which she christened Hudo – was given some upgrades to cope with the journey, including a switch to an electric fuel pump with a second tank to boost the car’s range, and a 12-volt alternator conversion to provide power for satellite navigation and a phone charger. Hudo’s cooling was also upgraded with an electric fan while the interior was stripped out to make way for spares and camping equipment. But mechanically the car was otherwise stock with its 60hp side-valve 3.5-litre straight-eight retaining its single updraft carburetor, white metal crankshaft bearings and splash-fed oil lubrication. The car’s wooden wheels remained too. “I didn’t know what I really got into and maybe that’s good,” she laughs.