Sep 18

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Wonderful Woodies

By John Linhardt

California surfers adopted old wood station wagons to haul their boards to the beaches and were immortalized by the Beach Boys’ “Surfin USA”. But, what happened to those beach buggies? Wagons got used hard both as family cars and businesses. They were high mileage and when the wood rotted many were junked. It is very costly to fully restore a woody as they got orphaned and really few wanted an old tired wagon with wood to restore.

The top selling wagon for many years was Ford and the leading year was 1957 when they sold 321,000 Ford Ranch Wagons. But wait, I mention woody, so now we go back to the late 40’s when Ford made a Sportsman. Chrysler had a woody station wagon plus a Town and Country convertible. The wood got replaced in the 1950’s
by 3M vinyl coated paper fashioned to look like wood. Even Ford Pinto and Chevy Corvair made a wagon but
dropped it in 1962, replaced by Nova and the full size Chevy Brookwood, Townsman and Kingswood. In the 1960’s Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler all had station wagons. Willys in the late 1940’s already had a
Willys wagon and even Crosley and Rambler, but all steel no wood.

My very favorite wagon is a 1957 Chevy Nomad complete with a ribbed roof panel and hot 265 and 283 cu in motors. Again, not a genuine woody. Wood is a major problem. It needs to be varnished, it rots, it warps (doors hard to close), it fades and a custom outside manufacturer had to make and fit the wood.

Just watch at car shows and even at Hershey, a genuine “woody” wagon is rare and extremely expensive to restore.

Ed note: In ‘47 and ‘48 Chevy made a true woody convertible!

Permanent link to this article: http://antiquechevyclubofqueens.org/2012/09/wonderful-woodies/