Wooden Wonders – The world of wood panelled cars

As automotive enthusiasts, there are a million and one things we love about cars. From exhilarating performance to their racing pedigree and history, there is a broad spectrum of things that appeal to us, but all of this is nothing without style. There have been a number of body styles over the years, some quirky and some more practical, but one of the most unique to appear in the automotive spectrum would be those with wood panels or “Woodies”. These vehicles were the example of outstanding craftsmanship and design flair and here we will take a brief look at the origins of the style and some of the cars that defined the movement.

In the early days of engineless transport, wood was used in the construction of many horse drawn carts and carriages. These sound design elements naturally transferred across too many early motor vehicles, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that cars with wood become the desirable choice. It was Ford in 1929 with the Model A that claimed the title of the first mass produced Woodie, with more than half of the vehicles exterior being crafted with timber. Although the use of this material was a relatively common place at the time, advancements in steel stamping slowly pushed wood to be used more for styling than structure.

The 1946-48 Chrysler Town and Country was one of the vehicles that adopted wooden styling and hit the nail on the head in terms of design. The station wagon was the first Woodie with an all-steel roof and featured wooden double doors (also called “Barrel Back” doors) and came in a four door sedan layout. The popular Chrysler Town and Country two door convertible was also offered and at the time was the most luxurious car on the market!

The Packard Super Eight was produced pre-WWII and was one of the most luxurious of the time. The vehicle featured a 160HP straight eight engine, not to mention wooden doors and rear quarter panels. However, the Woodie movement was not without its ugly ducklings and this generally came in the form of “faux” wood made with vinyl trim which began plaguing cars from the 1970’s all the way to the 1990’s. Thankfully this trend never really caught on in Australia.

When it comes to cars of a bygone era, its clear to see how outstanding design and creativity can stand the test of time. Although beautiful, we are pretty happy that manufactures steered away from termite-bait on wheels to more practical and durable materials.

What do you think of these wooden wonders? Timeless beauties, or better left to rot? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

Back To The Future

In 30, 40, 50 years’ time, will the nostalgia and passion for classic cars remain? Rare Spares Directors Les McVeigh and Lance Corby got together with Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe to share their opinions and insights into where classic cars will fit into our future. 

In a world of rapidly advancing automotive technology, will true classics eventually die out? or will modern cars of the 80s and 90’s take their place? At what point might Australians stop restoring the cars they grew up with? Will there come a time when it becomes too technically difficult for the average car enthusiast to restore modern cars with high levels of electronics?

“I think there’ll always be an interest in classic cars, always. Where it stops, in my opinion would be when they start to get very complicated,” said John Bowe.

“Nowadays I think there is more interest in classic cars than there ever has been.”

Looking only 30-40 years ahead, Lance Corby envisions a future where classic cars remain, some from the 90’s, but many older vehicles as well. 

 “In 40 years’ time, there will still be people with classic cars on the road. Regardless of what future cars become, there will always be a percentage of people wanting something unique.”

How old does a car need to be before it holds nostalgic memories for certain owners? In 2050, will people born in the 90’s be fondly remembering the cars we’re driving today? Which models will be remembered fondly and which will be discarded?

“The rarer ones will still be the most valuable, because rarity is what drives the prices,” said John.

“Certainly I think cars of the 80’s and possibly the 90’s will become classics for years to come. I’m thinking the EB, EL, EF Falcons and similar type Commodores.”

Les believes that the VR Commodore will be one of the last models to ever be considered a classic as well as the HSV models. Two cars the Directors could both could agree on were the Holden Monaro V2, VZ 2001-2005 and Ford GT Falcon, FPV GT (produced by Ford Performance Vehicles).

“I don’t see many newer Fords that fit the profile for classic cars, but we’re still going to have the older Ford GT’s and Holden Monaros that will never be in production here again. For anyone wanting a classic Australian vehicle that will retain its value, they’ll probably be the two most popular models,” said Les. 

“The demise of Australian built Holdens and Fords will make those cars a lot more desirable, while the later model Ford and Holden imports won’t be as collectable.”

“I think we’re a nation that’s quite proud of our motoring heritage and there’s always going to be a market for the original Australian classics,” said John.

Beyond the 90’s, automotive technology has continued to advance, with hybrid technology and the move towards electric cars and vehicles that can park themselves.

If the cars of today and tomorrow were to one day become classics, aftermarket suppliers like Rare Spares would have a hard task at hand, replicating the advanced technology.

“Once they get into the new millennium, say the 2000’s on, cars become more and more complicated,” John said.

When asked if Rare Spares will adapt and eventually be producing electronic car parts, Lance said, “I don’t think so. We may, but there’s already a lot of aftermarket electronics for cars available. I don’t think we would ever be in the game of manufacturing that type of technology.”

On the future role of mechanics being likened to software engineers, he added “It’s certainly going to become a big part of their industry, but the skill set of your basic mechanic will always be needed; An engine’s still an engine. A long way down the track when you’ve got your electric cars and so on - that will change a lot of things, but our current cars still have almost all of the same components that the cars of yesterday had.”

“I don’t think that modern technology will ever stop the average Joe Blow from restoring a car in his backyard.”

Tell us what you think will be considered a classic in the future by emailing Amy at adixon@rarespares.net.au

 

Top Tips For Your Restoration Project

28. May 2014 10:11 by Rare Spares in Shed Talk  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

Rare Spares have produced some great new DIY Shed Talk videos to help you with your classic car restoration project.

You can visit Shed Talk for new instructional videos on the fitment and installation of an FB-EK Holden Door Seal, an EH Holden Door and Boot Seal and much more! Click Here to check out Shed Talk.  

 We spoke to Director Lance Corby to get his top tips for anyone embarking on a restoration project!

#1. When considering a car build project you should try and get a good base to start with. A good body shell will not only make the project easier, it will reduce the time and money spent at the panel shop.

#2 Ensure you have the right environment before you start, open areas are not a good place to build a car.

#3 If you are not an experienced car builder, seek advice from other enthusiasts first. Many car clubs have chat sites with people keen to help.

#4 Plan the build carefully. Many people fail to plan their build which leads to either a non-completed project or substandard finish.

#5 When choosing a panel shop to do your body and paint work, make sure they have the capabilities required to do the job. Many panel beaters don’t have the skill set you may need.

#6 Ensure you or your panel beater test fits and gaps all panels prior to painting, it is a very expensive job to fix gaps once everything is painted.

#7 Rare Spares have produced a spread of how to do video’s which are very helpful when fitting product, these are all on their Web site under the banner of SHEDTALK. www.rarespares.net.au

#8 When looking to purchase product for the build, ensure you do your research. There are many sites out there selling cheap inferior products, Rare Spares are the only endorsed supplier of Holden and Ford products on the market.