1940 Ford V8 DeLuxe Woodie

1940 Ford V8 DeLuxe Woodie

Mention a Woodie to someone and most people will instantly visualize endless summers, surfboards and bikini-clad damsels while Beach Boys tunes echo in their minds. The Woodie Wagon (regardless of year, make or model) holds a special place in the heart of Americana. Woodie fans all have their favorites, but in the end, it's all about the wood - and the more of it, the better. Wood evokes warmth. Warmth means summer. Summer means beaches. Beaches mean surf and surfers and surfer girls (at least to those who grew up in the 50's and 60's). And all of the above is enough to set one to daydreaming and visualizing themselves behind the the wheel of a classic like this '40 Ford Beauty. Not even the Beach Boys had a ride this sweet.

1940 Ford Woodie - front. 1940 Ford Woodie - rear.

Woodies were the first Station Wagons. And for those of you who don't know where that term came from, it goes back to the days when almost everyone travelled by train, if they travelled at all. Cars of the time were specially modified (at first individually by their owners, and later by the makers), to carry passengers and luggage to and from the train stations and their homes. The term stuck and has been used ever since to denote cars with extra space for passengers and luggage.

Of course, to accommodate the extra interior space, you need a larger body, and in the early days metal was more expensive than wood as a manufacturing material. Until the late 30's and early 40's most all cars and trucks used wood in body construction (some more, some less). Even when you couldn't see it, it was there, adding strength and rigidity to the body. In the case of early wagons, it was decided to save money and make the bulk of the body out of wood and to let it all show. Besides, there were a lot of out-of-work, horse-drawn carraige makers that needed employment and knew how to apply their skills to the horseless versions. Since woodies were work vehicles made for short hauls, many early models did not come with glass windows because they were not considered worth the expense.

1940 Ford Woodie - 3/4 front.

As we know, Henry Ford came up with quite a few innovations that revolutionized auto manufacturing. He was always looking for ways to cut manufacturing costs in oder to stay ahead of the competition. In 1929 he opened a lumber mill in Iron Mountain, Michigan, and began milling the wood used in the construction of Ford bodies. He broke further ground by being the first manufacturer to offer Woodie bodies as a regular catalog item for buyers to choose from. By the late 30's he was not only processing the wood, but also making his own bodies (the only manufacturer ever to do so).

By the late 30's, wooden construction costs surpassed that of metal construction and the old Station Wagon went from being a work vehicle to a toy for the rich, or vehicle for sportsmen (grandpa's SUV). They went from being called "station wagons" and "depot hacks" to "Estate Wagons", and began receiving things like glass windows, heaters and other amenities. After the war, GI's returning home to start families recognized the utilitarian value of these vehicles and began snapping them up, which prompted auto makers to make the station wagon the family car of choice for the next several decades. The sales of woodies peaked in the 50's, by which time much of the "wood" was simulated and the bodies nearly all metal. Soon, if real wood was used at all, it was an "accent" bolted to the body's exterior.

1940 Ford Woodie - 3/4 rear.

Many classic car officianados consider '39-'40 Ford body styling to be best that Henry ever produced. Take that basic fender, hood and grill styling and then add a varnished wood body, and you have one of the most elegent and eye-catching vehicles you'll ever lay eyes on.

1940 Ford Woodie - headlight. 1940 Ford Woodie - wood.

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Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, 2324 Auto Park Way, Escondido, CA., 1-800-HOT-ROD-5.

Hot Rods & Custom Stuff - builds, restores, paints, services and sells parts for classic autos, cars, trucks and street rods.

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