(First Posted August 29, 2013) Yes, it’s another Saturday here in Southern California. As always, the air is lousy with sunshine, and I’m suffering through another crappy day ;-). I’ve been coaching my daughter on the finer points of driving (she’s on the third week of her Learner’s Permit), and on the way home I spotted this Woody family portrait.
This Chrysler Town and Country led the parade. Could be a ’46, ’47 or ’48, as Chrysler didn’t make many changes to their postwar cars until 1949. Of course, with buyers lined up around the block, there wasn’t any compelling reason to update the only woody convertible on the market.
Behind the Town and Country sat a Chrysler woody wagon. It was built about ten year prior to my birth, so based on some sketchy internet research, I’m calling it a 1950. Although the perimeter wood is real enough, some post-war Chryslers included sheet metal panels for the door and rear quarter panels. In ’46 and ’47, the panels used thin veneer of plywood, but ‘48 saw one of the first applications of Di-Noc on a Woody.
Both the Chryslers carried a serious air of originality, but this 1937 Chevy shows a more modern stance. I’m guessing the owner replaced the original stovebolt six with classic small block power. Classic power that arrived on the scene about 20 years after Chevy built this car.
Oddly enough, I knew this was a ’37 without looking it up. Perhaps I’m recalling an AMT model kit from my youth..
Yep- Here’s an image of the box.
These last two cars look original as well. I was thinking this Ford was pre-war, but had to Google the exact year. Turns out it’s a 1940.
I was surprised to discover that this was only the second year that Fords came from the factory with juice (hydraulic) brakes. Prior to that, a complex linkage tied the brake pedal to each wheel, with metal rods running to each axle. Old timers tell me the system worked well when properly adjusted, but proper adjustment was rarely obtained and once achieved, short lived.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to say this- After viewing pre-war Fords on Google images, the 1940 Ford is WAY better looking than the 1941 Ford.
A ’41 I found on Google- I’m NOT a fan.
Lastly, our line-up included a 1946 Ford. It still has those ugly ’41 Ford rear fenders but the front styling is something of an improvement. An improvement, but still frumpy.
These post-war Fords (’46 to ’48) were also the last of the Fords to use the Model T’s solid axle, transverse leaf, center pivot front suspension. Although less dangerous than mechanical brakes, the design still represented anachronistic engineering. This means the ride and handling harks back to the bad old days, rather than providing a warm nostalgic glow. Given the choice, I’ll hop in the Chryslers every time.
The Chrysler wagon also had these cool travel stickers. Looking closely, some of them are not exactly period correct.
So that’s the line-up. If anyone calls for a Curbside Classic on these cars, I’d respond “Thanks for the request, but I’ll pass.” Gazing at these classics, I have no gut reaction, feel no resonance, and hear no muse to inspire me. Good lord, my father was in short pants and attending a one room school house when some of these cars came out. Because of that, I’ll leave the recollections to those readers who have a direct connection to these golden oldies.
The ’37 Chevy definitely speaks to me…and yes, I did build one of those model kits waaaaay back when.
Do note the lower left hand corner of the box though…there’s a WEBSITE!
Maybe a sticker, hopefully a sticker…but it looks more like it was printed on the box, making it a repop model kit.
I built that 37 Chevy kit as a kid also. It was one of my better results, sprayed dark green. The 37 was a very handsome car, maybe the best looking pre-war Chevy of them all.
I’ll just park this here…
Yes, I found this image on a website.
This kit was new-in-box. It was also $57.
The kit is available as a repop, but the repop box has different graphics. D/S
Yikes – it’s available way cheaper than that.
As might be guessed, the Chryslers are my faves. The ragtop could even be a “first series 1949”. Chrysler didn’t have the real 49 models ready for the start of the year, so they came a bit later in the model year as the “second series 1949.” The wagon is indeed a 1950.
The 1940 Ford is one of the all-time beauties. Before the era of Tri-five Chevy and Mustang, the 1940 Ford was one of the most highly sought-after cars of them all, either to restore or to hot rod. I will agree with you on the ’41, not an attractive car at all.
One bit of trivia – the 46-48 Town and Country was not actually the only wood bodied convertible offered. There is the little-remembered Ford Sportsman of the same time period. There was also a Mercury version (of course) but with only about 200 of them built, they are rare even by these standards.
Don’t forget the post-war Nash Sportsman . . .
Yeah, I meant to change the text from “only” to “one of the few”- I’ve been burned by making absolute statements in the past.
Let’s just say the T & C was the iconic postwar woody convertible.
You’ve got me. I checked Old Car Brochures, and they show a Nash Suburban that was like a woodie sedan, but no convertibles at all. In fact, I didn’t think Nash did a convertible until the original Rambler. But then, I am hardly a Nash or AMC expert. Am I missing something?
Here’s a ’48 Nash convertible. Only about 1000 made.
JP – Can’t remember if we ever discussed this on here, but there was a noted Ford woodie hoarder who auctioned off his massive and pristine collection a few years back. He had pretty much everything Ford slapped wood (or Di-Noc) on between ’32-’57, but the crown jewel was a ’46 Mercury Sportsman convertible. Beautiful car – maybe not as distinctive as the pre-war models, but tons of presence and full of all sorts of amazing little styling details.
The whole list is here: http://www.rmauctions.com/results/result.cfm?SaleCode=NA09 lots of pictures and background on each car as well.
Thanks for the picture. I have never seen a Mercury Sportsman (or a Ford version either, for that matter). With only 200 made, I can only imagine how few of them are left.
Ford didn’t change their car much in those years either. But gM did – which always struck me as odd. Maybe it was their way of saying “We know we don’t need to, but we can afford to!”
(sorry, my keyboard has lost capital g)
The Chrysler wagon is a ’50 . . . . and regarding the “horse buggy” Henry Ford transverse solid axle/leaf spring suspension, they were on ALL Ford products – Lincolns included – through 1948. Old Henry may have given into styling, juice brakes, but he was adamant about keeping his agrarian surrey-with-the-fringe-on-top suspension, by gum!!
It stayed until 59 on the Ford Popular from the UK which was a stripper Ford Anglia from the 1930s, they were cheap and kept the rain off.
Great find. The Chrysler woody or ’40 Ford wagons are my favorites. The Town and Country is awful nice but I’ve always found the styling too front end heavy looking.
Nash always had convertibles in the lineup before the war. After the war the only convertibles they builtl before the Rambler were 1,000 Ambassdor convertibles in model year 1948. They did not have rear quarter windows. a trait shared only with Plymouth and Lincoln Continental in the early postwar period.
That ’40 Ford Woody owner didn’t miss a beat: He has the mandatory surfboard on top.
No post-war GM wagons? It looks like GM went with metal bodies in ’49, ahead of the competition. I think my engineer dad and uncle became GM guys, after driving Ford products as teens, because of things like Henry holding on to model T suspension and mechanical brakes way too long. I drove a ’29 Chevy with mechanical brakes and it was quite an experience in 1960’s traffic! Didnt Chrysler pioneer “juice” brakes?
Chrysler had them from the start in 1924, but they were not the first. The Duesenberg brothers may have been the first, IIRC the Model A Duesenberg from the early 20s had hydraulics. Others may have been there before.
I believe the ’53 Buick wagon was the last GM wagon to use real wood.
Great assortment. I have always loved the 1946-early ’49 T&C, but in this case, give me that mint green ’50 Town & Country. Love it!