Skip to main content
HomeWhat is a Woodie?

What is a Woodie?


First let’s decide how to spell the word. Over the years and many conversations, our inimitable long time Woodie Times editor and English major, John Lee has summarized that – a Woodie is a car and Woody is a person.

Woodie   Woody

Will O’Neil, our club’s founder was once asked this very question, "What is a woodie?"

His reply was “if you think your car is a woodie, then it is”. In spite of Will’s apparent broad acceptance, this topic is charged with opinion and some resistance to change.

The acceptance of various “woodies” is a factor in two separate discussions. The first being those wanting to join the National Woodie Club. The NWC does not require that a member own a woodie, so anyone can join the NWC.

The second issue is being allowed to show your car or participate in a NWC event – many times this restriction only surfaces when there is limited show space available at the show site.

The accepted answer to the question has evolved significantly over time. In fact, at one point, many woodie aficionados insisted that only Fords wagons were woodies.

It was not long after this that the non-Ford owners reminded the woodie old-guard that almost every manufacturer from Buick to Willys offered woodie wagons as part of their model lineup. Over time it was accepted that all wagons utilizing structural wood are in fact woodies.

It wasn’t long before the woodie convertible owners chimed in – what about the Ford and Mercury Sportsman and Chrysler Town & Countries? Eventually they too were embraced by the old-guard as true woodies.

The next controversy revolved around “applied” decorative wood, versus true structural wood. This evolution had a double challenge – because ALL the Ford shoeboxes had applied wood, not just 1954 Fords and other models of various manufacture. Eventually the majority of the woodie tribe accepted any car with REAL wood from the factory as a woodie.

Custom car aficionados keep pushing the envelope with their creations and have long explored custom woodie wagons as part of their culture. Most of our tribe members refer to these as Phantom woodies. Cars that were not originally created by auto manufacturers – but by some very creative and talented individuals. Most phantoms use real wood and generally accepted as woodies.

The next informal pursuit for woodie acceptance came from the “tin” woodies, those being the 1949 and later station wagons with metal profiles suggesting wood framework and panels although they were actually stamped steel. Some had woodgrain painting to simulate wood texture and color. This remains a tough sell for the old-guard and the jury is still out – even though many of these cars are very nostalgic for Americans and are a hit at any car show.

Tin 2

Coral 2
Black 2
The current discussions seem to revolve around the later 1950’s through the 1970’s wagons when composite forms and plastic or vinyl wood grain panels that replicated wood were added to premium steel station wagons and sold by many manufacturers – such as the Ford Country Squire and Dodge Aspen. This may be a bridge too far for many in the old car and woodie hobby, but there are many owners of these cars that take great pride in preserving, driving and showing these unique station wagons.

PT Cruiser Lastly, what about REAL wood kits applied to non-woodie vehicles such as Chevy Blazers, Volkswagens, PT Cruisers and the like? Although less accepted (perhaps) they seem to have achieved something like spotty tolerance by the old-guard.

In Summary

As you can see, this is a complex and perhaps sensitive issue that pertains to a collector’s pride and joy. One thing is certain, the jury is still deliberating on the topic – and who is the jury really? This discussion will certainly continue to evolve over time as the hobby, the old-guard and tastes change.

Regardless, we welcome the discussion and hope it is helpful to understand why some shows might have classifications For Woodies Only with real wood construction and trim, and others for Woodies and Wagons. We hope you will join our tribe of woodie lovers and that you will drive and show your ride with pride.


You are listening to
"Wave Walk'n"
by The Surf Raiders.

Insert a link here

Insert a link here

Insert a link here

Insert a link here

Insert a link here

Insert a link here

Insert a link here

Insert a link here