Before minivans and crossovers, there were family station wagons. Typically bulky, and by most accounts, unattractive, these people movers get little respect from today's collectors, who are looking for high-performance, sporty cars. However, Woodies are the exceptions to the rule. During their heyday, in the '30s and '40s, these premium vehicles, with their unique design of wood against shiny metal, were manufactured by most car companies in limited quantities. The few surviving Woodies have become blue chip collectibles, and now command premium prices. Here are some of these station wagons, with flair.
Since Woodies have been favorites of hot rodders, many Ford Woodies have been radically customized with flashy paint schemes, performance upgrades, and plush interiors. However, the few restored originals that still exist have become sought-after classics that are welcome in both museums and Concours events. Ford continued to build them until the early '50s, longer than most other car manufacturers.
At a recent collector car auction, a perfectly restored 1948 Oldsmobile Deluxe Series 1968 Woodie rolled across the stage, loaded with all the gear needed for a family outing in the country, including a vintage picnic basket. The winning bid for this car was $61,000, illustrating the value of these uniquely-crafted vehicles. Cousins to the Olds, the Pontiac Streamliner and Buick Super Estate, of the same era, have recently been spotted at major car events. These rare Woodies represent some of the most expensive cars sold by GM, following the restart of automobile manufacturing after World War II.
Chrysler Town and Country Woodie
Although Chrysler also built Woodie wagons, they are, perhaps, best known for their 1947 and 1948 Town and Country sedans and convertibles. To add a splash of fun to the base car design, these cars, similar to the wagons, have rich-looking wood side panels. Chrysler's Town and Country models are regularly seen at national collector car auctions, with bids on some coming in at more than $100,000.
Driving or riding in a Packard would certainly get you noticed in the early '40s. That's why some upscale hotels of the day used the stylish Packard Woodies to transport guests to and from train stations. Earlier this year one of these stately cars, a 1940 model, sold at auction for $220,000.