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Timeless Timber

Vero Beach is home to a clan of iconic American woodies

The ash wood frame and generous cargo space were two of the 1948 Town & Country’s features that appealed to affluent car buyers.

The ash wood frame and generous cargo space were two of the 1948 Town & Country’s features that appealed to affluent car buyers.

One of the delightful aspects of owning a wood-sided station wagon, often dubbed a rolling work of art, is that nearly every one comes with a story.
Here’s mine:

With my father at the wheel of his 1949 Ford woodie, our family is barreling down the White Horse Pike through the pine barrens to the South Jersey shore. I’m a mere toddler sitting in the back, taking in the sights and sounds on our summer vacation to Avalon. Who knew Dad was so cool, piloting a woodie?

The wood-sided station wagon has long been an iconic part of American automotive culture. In its earliest days it was known as a “depot hack,” bussing guests and luggage from railway stations to an upscale hotel, country estate or dude ranch. Film star Clarke Gable owned several deluxe models that he used to cruise through the farmland and small ranches of the San Fernando Valley. The 1963 hit song “Surf City,” written by Brian Wilson and Jan Berry and recorded by Jan and Dean, pays tribute to the woodie, evoking memories of sun-splashed beaches and magical summer days. 

Check out that woodwork. Clad in perhaps rare bird’s-eye maple and framed in white ash, the panels were fitted and mitered with the perfection of a Chippendale highboy. They boasted intricate finger-jointed framing. Basswood created handsome longitudinal roof slats. Polished and lacquered, woodies satisfied the need for stylish transport of people and parcels.