Wagon Wednesday

I have always been in love with the Woody Wagons. Every time I see one going down the highway I speed up to follow it for a spell. The glistening wood contrasting against a highly polished metal surface becomes a thing of beauty or a piece of art in my mind. Wagon owners are some of the friendliest you will ever meet in the automotive hobby. I have been attending Woody only meets since I moved to California in 1984 and never grow tired of attending the events in different venues along the coast or lake front. The popularity of these wooden wonders continues today even though Ford stop producing them in 1951. Ford wasn’t the only manufacturer to build wooden body cars but are the most popular for most of us who like to convert them into modernized vehicles with dependable and powerful chassis. I don’t believe in changing the outward appearance of the wagon as that spoils the character I love so much. I prefer the lower stance but not too low and steel wheels with either whitewalls or blackwalls depending on the build style. The biggest problem and expense of building a Woody Wagon is the upkeep and replacement of the deteriorated wood, especially if the entire wood needs replaced. The restoration of the sheet metal and chassis is just like any other build.

We are fortunate to have some of best in the business for restoring or replacing the wood for these wagons. The waiting list is long in most shops and the cost are hight as materials and labor continue to rise. Not just anyone can manage wood replacement. You need special tools and skills to duplicate Henry’s Iron Mountain wood works. Visiting some of the wood speciality shops will help you become familiar with the shops work and attending an event will show the workmanship on the completed cars. Fit and finish are evident in top quality Woody Wagons. Gaps and alignment of the wood really stand out if not done properly. You can pay good money and still not obtain the quality if you select the wrong shop or low bidder. Do your homework.

Of course, finding a complete wagon that only needs revarnished is the way to go — and they are available. Patina wagons with cracked wood (stress cracked) can be made to be beautiful and you still retain the originality (character) of the Wagon. Avoid paying for heavily cracked wood as the structure may not be sound. Damaged roof headers are normally the big expense when restoring a woody and maintaining most of the original wood. Unless you find a deal on a running driving Woody wagon that needs work you are way ahead of the game to purchase one you can live with.

Prices have come down from the peak of the market but a nice Woody Wagon will range from a low of $65K to a high of $150K depending on the style of the build and the quality of the car.  Building one will run in the 6 figures and will consume lots of time between start and finish. While not for everyone, the smile on your face when cruising PCH and receiving lots of “thumbs up” will soon convince you—”You Gotta Have One!”

Remember, that if you continue to follow the same path everyday you will always end up in the same place.

Stay Tooned!




woody to Franks march 06 006

Sometimes you have big dreams and your buddy dreams right along with you. What you see so far is about 3 years of work.

woodie at franks 039

Gary installed a Nickels wood kit on the chassis and another few years passed by.

Chase's birthday #2 2010 027

The end result was a beautifully executed 37 Woody Wagon with lots of class with modern suspension and power plant. Seven long years — but worth the effort.


Nick Alexander’s Woody Wagon collection keep the flame burning for many years for Woody enthusiasts. They were all perfect.


Following the Woody Wagon brings a smile to your face while cruising PCH.


The 46 Ford wagon is one of my favorite. Simple but elegant with lots of class going down the road.


When you see Sam driving his Woody Wagon complete with Woody trailer you know you are following a winner.


Sandy has the nicest 1939 Ford Woody Wagon in LA. Very stock with a dropped axle and Apple Green wheels.


You can locate these projects fairly reasonable but you need to plan on spending some big bucks and several years to finish.


The shoebox is another favorite of Woody lovers. This 51 was in the grass at Santa Barbara a few years ago.


With venues like Santa Barbara, the ladies always like to come along for the ride and walk on the beach.


Jane and Lorraine enjoy Santa Barbara and bring along the Sunday LA Times.


Parking on the Pier in Malibu during Christmas provides some scenic views of the coastline all the way to LA.


Ruby enjoyed parking on the Malibu Pier right under the Ruby’s Restaurant sign. John owns Ruby these days.


A view from atop Ruby’s shows you Malibu at Christmas time. You don’t leave until the last car decides he wants to leave and all the rest of the cars behind you. Right Walt!


Malibu is always good for a $8 ice cream cone which was furnished by the organizer. Yummy! Bill, you need to come this year.

Wagon Wednesday’s Pick


The profile of this Don Bickel built 1939 Ford Woody Wagon is just about as perfect as you could ask for. Mike Nickels wood work.


Comments 16

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