Aaron Widmar
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Driving Miss Daisy Car Restorer Leaves Behind Hudson Commodore

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Driving Miss Daisy Car Restorer Hudson Commodore

When you see that car, the lively theme music begins playing in your head
Photo: Warner Bros Pictures

Back in 1989, before Morgan Freeman became God, he was a humble, dedicated driver named Hoke Colburn who chauferred a crabby Jessica Tandy around in a Hudson Commodore–a car that film drove all the way to the Academy Awards to win Best Picture.

While time and skeptics haven’t been kind to Driving Miss Daisy over the years, one thing is unforgettable: Morgan Freeman behind the wheel of that stunning maroon 1949 Hudson Commodore that so perfectly captured the heritage of the South.

Remembering the legacy that film left on a generation, The Gainesville Times reported somber news that the original Driving Miss Daisy car restorer, Tolbert N. Lester Jr, passed away on November 4th.

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Remembering Mr. Lester Jr, the Talented Driving Miss Daisy Car Restorer

That 1949 Hudson Commodore was a star of Driving Miss Daisy as much as any human actor. Much of the responsibility for that achievement goes to Tolbert N. Lester Jr, who restored the vehicle for the film.

Being that the story was set and filmed in Atlanta, the resident of nearby Gainesville, Georgia, had the honor of refurbishing that ride until it glistened, and even got to drive it to the movie’s premiere in Atlanta, accompanied by his wife Lucy and the car’s owner Herbert Bell.

Remembering how her father spoke of his brush with Hollywood limelight, Tolbert’s daughter Connie Evans said, “That was kind of living it up for Daddy. He never did things like that.”

As a father of four daughters and a husband for 60 years to his wife Lucy, he was a busy man. When her father used to restore vehicles, thanks to his own business he started in 1981, Connie enjoyed driving the merchandise around. Later that decade, the quality of his work built him a reputation that got him noticed.

The Driving Miss Daisy car restorer was a gentlemen and a natural handyman, according to his friends and family.

Often a Memorial Day parade participant, Tolbert loved spending time with friends, sharing a laugh, and while his health worsened with age, his spirit never did.

We can all reflect on the legacy this Driving Miss Daisy car restorer left us with: with the dedication of a caring friend, even the most damaged among us can still shine.

Driving Miss Daisy Car Restorer Hudson Commodore Inside

Inside the iconic Hudson Commodore
Photo: Warner Bros Pictures

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  • Aaron WidmarSenior Editor

    Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing... See more articles by Aaron.