I got this idea from our friend Joe in Florida. Thanks, Joe, for the pictures and the reminder of some these great iconic cars.
I’ve always admired the workmanship that went in to the older cars that had wood components and have always disliked the simulating wood on cars with plastic molding and contact paper stuck on the horrible quality 1970′s and 1980′s station wagons was supposed to be a retro look (but only at 15 feet away) and cool (well as cool a station wagon was back then). I recall working in my father’s body shop and how much “fun” it was to put that contact paper back on Ford station wagon. In this mini series “Gorgeous “Wood Vehicles” I’m going to pick a year and toss you a few facts about the cars that came ‘in wood’.
Wood was used a lot in the auto industry, from all wood wheels to just the spokes to entire frames and interiors (like dash boards and steering wheels). Some of the best uses known uses were on the outside and truck beds. They were often referred to as ‘Woodies” either correctly or incorrectly, be most of us know that the term relates to cars with real wood on the outside. These are the cars I’m going to look in this series. For no particular reason, other than this was the first picture Joe sent, I’m starting with the year 1948.
A major reason for using wood was the shortage of raw materials and labor issues for producing steel/sheet metal. This was the case in 1948, just a few years after the end of World War II.
Nearly all of the major producer had models that had external wood components. This 1948 Chevy was one.
This is the two door Fleetwood Aerosedan, but Chevy also made an 8 passenger station wagon the Model 2109 Fleetmaster. This year’s model set the record for Chevrolet woody production with 10,171 wagons built. Both Cantrell and Iona built bodies to fill the demand for the last Chevrolet wagon with structural wood. The 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Station Wagon was the last true woody (structured wood) from Chevrolet. What type of wood was used? Ash the wood used for the structural base, while mahogany was used for the panels. Leatherette was stretched over a wood frame to provide the roof. Approximately 10,171 were built between February 1948 and January 1949.
Most of these cars were powered by the Chevy Straight 6, 216 CID engine.
Bore and stoke 3.5 x 3.75 (in); Displacement 216.5 (CID); Compression 6.50:1; Max Brake Horsepower 90 @ 3300 RPM; Max Torque 174 Lbs.ft. @ 1200 RPM
Packard was another manufacturer that produced woodies. They released their Twenty-Second Series cars. They were Packard’s first totally new models were since before World War II. The wood used was northern birch for the frame and maple panels. This was purely for looks, because the overall structure was braced by the metal body shell which actually was modified from the Standard Sedan Body, only the upper rear quarters which were removed from the sedan body used the wood as actual bracing. On the door sides and window frames the regular sheet metal was cut away in order to allow the wood to be inlaid, rather than just bolted on top. These were powered by the Packard’s L-head straight 8.
Some engine specs:
Bore x stroke 3.50 x 3.75 (in.); Displacement 288.64(cid); Horsepower 130 @ 3,600 rpm; Torque 226(lb-ft) @ 2,000 rpm; Compression ratio 7.0:1; Main bearings 5; Lubrication full-pressure; Carburetor Carter 2-bbl
automatic Choke; mechanical Fuel pump
We have Chrysler’s, and Pontiac’s 1948 woodies as well as a Bentley woody and Willys coming up next in this series.
Thanks for reading