Want to attract a crowd on your next drive around town? Dig out the "wood" and you'll impress someone, no doubt. Especially if your car is shiny red. Woody wagons are half sedan / half panel truck. If you have a wood paneled station wagon, you may have a "wood". Today these cars are the symbols of California beach cool, but it wasn't always like that. They used to be considered the poor man's "about town" transportation vehicle that was utilitarian and even common.
First known as "Shooting Brakes" or "Estate Wagons" used for grouse hunting on Great Britain's country estates, they took on the term "depot wagons" in the United States. In this country they were used to transport passengers and luggage to and from train stations, thus becoming "station wagons".
Early custom built station wagons made by Ford offered were produced as an option the Model T frame in 1922 — but customers still had to order the body separately. The first ever production station wagon was the Star Station Wagon, built by Durant Motors in 1923.
For several decades the woods were extremely popular. The postwar years experienced a demise in popularity of the structural wood bodies since many realized these utility vehicles were expensive to make and maintain. Woods used such as ash or oak were turned into car frames, but the construction was complex, requiring precisely milled shapes only furniture grade craftsmen could create. Popular steel bodies didn't require the labor nor the varnish. The wood had to be varnished regularly and lacked the durability of increasingly popular steel body vehicles.
Eventually the pre-war station wagons became embarrassing wrecks of decay out on the highways of the U.S. and were sold cheap as utility vehicles to haul surf lumber to the beach.
If you had hung onto the car and renovated it, today you would own a woody classic. Rolled out for special beach festivals and car shows, the vehicles are collectible and worth much more than they originally sold for.
In California, woodies are in demand as vehicles to use in parades, car shows and festivals. The restored woodies rekindle the memory of a time when real wood was plentiful and used in everything from flooring to cars. While modified versions of wood flooring exist, few can afford the wood that was installed during the woodie car era. When you see a woodie, go ahead and smile. The owners of these cars are used to lots of photos, smiles, and cheers. It's one of the few cars that can evoke so much pleasure and joy out of the people it passes by on the road.
There are quite a few car shows in California that feature woodies such as the Beachcruiser Meet in Huntington Beach or a great woodie car show in Encinitas at Moonlight Beach. We will details about them on the calendar when we acquire them. For now, here's a small list of woodie events for 2011:
March 26-27, 2011 Huntington Beach - Beachcruisers
April 15 - 16, 2011 Doheny Wood (Doheny Beach, Dana Point, CA)
May 14, 2011 L.A. Wood
June 4, 2011 Woodies on the Lake @ Lake Arrowhead
June 2011 Club Party and Surf-A-Rama @ Doheny State Beach
June 25, 2011 Woodies on the Wharf, Santa Cruz
July 2011 Ocean Festival, San Clemente
August 20, 2011 Woodies on the Beach, Santa Barbara
September 17, 2011 Wavecrest, Encinitas