I started my personal blog three years ago this month just after moving to the greater Daytona Beach area. On it I have a series called “What I Saw Today” and have posted over a hundred posts in that category. By and large, they are about something automotive related I saw that day. Kind of like a Curbside Classic mini version, but not nearly as entertaining. The one vehicle that sticks out in my mind over the last three years was a 1942 Mercury Woody Wagon my nephew spotted one day while we were out cruising around. The above shot is of my Mom sitting on the hood of her dad’s woody back in 1941. I’m pretty sure Dad married my Mom just to get closer to that wagon.
Anyway, I came up with a fictional, but factual, short story about the Woody wagon the Kid and I spotted and I thought I would share it with my fellow Curb Dwellers. I hope you find it enjoyable.
Imagine, if you will, it is 1941.
The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt has declared War and orders the War Department to gear up for entry into the Second World War in three decades.
In 1939, you were lucky enough to have landed a job selling a material that separates fuel and water in ocean going watercraft and landed your firm a contract to supply this material to the War Department. Your salary in 1939 was $13,000.00, including commissions. By 1941, your salary and commissions was $82,000.00, with even more expected in the years ahead. The average teacher made $1,800.00 that year, an executive with the North Carolina government made $13,000.00 and Satchel Paige made $40,000.00.
You now have a serious dilemma. What automobile to purchase to get the family to that newly acquired beach house? You have a limited choice, due to the auto industry converting all of their factories to military vehicle production, and with your current salary, a used car just won’t due.
Do you want a Chrysler Town and Country Woodie Wagon? Nah, that is coach built with ash and mahogany from Pekin Wood Products in Helena, Arkansas.
You want something even more desirable stumbled upon this at a lowly Mercury dealer:
A 1942 Mercury Woodie Wagon. Only 792 produced and at a price of $2,955.00, you get the Deluxe, the top of the line at the time. The average price of an automobile in 1942 was $1,100.00. At the time, the only factory built woodie wagon, with timber from Ford’s own lands on Iron Mountain Hill on Lake Superior. Solid, strong, wood, durability grown in upstate Michigan
A four door, clam shell tailgated equipped, honest to God, woodie wagon with seating for 9.
Baby moons, beauty rings, deep maroone colored wheels matching the body color.
A vinyl roof and a mandatory luggage rack to carry all the items needed for a summer long stay at the Beach.
The air scoop to provide refreshing fresh air along the trip. A spot light to enhance the majestic natural views. The inbound turn signals, provided at the whim of an, unknown to you, automobile stylist.
To conserve metal, California provided you porcelain license plates for $17.00.
And, no flat six for you, you have to have the V8.
Optional clock and wing vents to add more fresh air.
The wood ribbed roof looking so much like narrow surfboards line the interior.
Maple door panels and chrome handles on the rear of the seats.
Streamline front grill with chome bumpers.
You love this automobile from all angles.
Rear mounted spare with Mercury scripted on the hub cap with Goodyear wide whites all the way around.
Just across Granada Boulevard from the Ormond Garage.
Mercury only made 792 of them in 1942, and as of 2004, there were reportedly only 10 left with just 3 of them restored, 2 of them in Southern California. One sold in 2000, at auction, for $75,000.00. That was 11 years ago.
This one is pristine. A couple paint issues, but just a beautiful longroof. Definitely the rarest vehicle I have ever seen on the street. Although the Kid and I saw this woodie nearly two years ago, I still see it out and about being driven by a distinguished looking gentleman and he is always smoking a pipe. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to speak with him. Know that when I do, my fellow Curb Dwellers will be the first to hear about it.
Truly a beautiful vehicle!
Nice looking Merc Wagon. A few things to point out: the front fenders are missing the lower stainless pieces. The original hubs caps, rims and rear tire cover are missing also. There are 5 of these registered and being driven in the USA, there are 2 known that are parts cars with major issues and rust. There was a total of 945 1942 Mercury Wagons made in late 1941 until production stopped in January of 1942. I have owned one since 1977 that I bought from the original owners son in California, I now live near Portland Oregon. One sold 2 years ago at R&M auctions in Monterey California for 209K. The average price for a restored 42 would be about 150K. This is my 42 Merc parked next to my project a 1975 Pinto Squire Woody Wagon soon to be restored.
Hi,…I am the owner of the maroon 42 Merc wagon in need of the lower stainless trim…Could you contact me?…Thanks Pete
beautiful car indeed… also would like to compliment you on your Mom’s beauty— without being too creepy. 🙂
Hard to believe that this was the same vehicle that Pete Cochrane drove iin the Mod Squad!
No offense taken. Mom was a beautiful woman her entire life. And a great sense of humor to boot!
Those ’42 California plates were in no way porcelain, just ordinary stamped steel. They were very unusual though in that they were designed to look like a 1941 California plate with a long, narrow 1942 tab across the top, which is what most Californians got in 1942. The ’42 full plates were only issued to new registrations in the 1942-44 period.
Indeed a fine-looking Mercury wagon, and that 1940 Ford Deluxe wagon wasn’t bad either.
pfsm: I stand corrected. I thought I had read somewhere on these tubes that they were porcelain. Alas, it appears the last porcelain plate in California was 1919.
Thanks for the heads up and my apology for the error.
Well was I suprised to find my Woodie car so nicely presented in your blog
I was looking in google for 42 parts and your site popped up as I scrolled
through it saw it was my car!! I live in Palm Coast and yes this is a daily driver for me, but I don’t smoke a pipe. I bought this car in the late 70’s
and completely restored it piece by piece over a 10yr period while living in Calif. Finding parts for this year has been a challange, which is why it is still
missing the fender trim. I also love that people feel the need to tell me it is
missing trim (oh so that what the holes are for) haha. I am retired and love living in Florida a great place for the Woodie. I put surf boards on the rack and drive A1A and love the people I meet. I have been invited to Weddings and parades or should I say the Woodie has been invited.
Thanks again for the respect you gave my Curbside Classic
WOW What a car
“A vinyl roof and a mandatory luggage rack” Quote.
Surely vinyl wasn’t invented in ’42 ? Certainly Britain didn’t have it. Had to make do with “leatherette” or something similar.
Now I would like to read your blog. Would you please post a link to lead me to it? Thank you. I enjoy your writing. Hope you will sometime include photos of the Aliki, Or Makai By the Beach where as a child I visited my Grandfather.
So is something like this what Jan & Dean were singing about? Truly an awesome car!
I forgot to mention: If you need the front fender stainless pieces I have extras. You can contact me through the Email or this site. Thanks Dale
Simply an incredible vehicle!
Sweet car. I have a 1950 ford woodie and just purchased a set of roof racks similar to your cars. do you know anything about them?
Nice Mercury. I own a 1942 Mercury Tudor. It is all original just like yours. Only exception is that I converted it to a twelve volt system. I still have the generator and all of the parts in case I want to reinstall them. I understand your problem about finding parts. I am still looking for the hood emblem. Wow thanks for sharing such a beautiful classic.
WHILE MY SON WAS IN MONTEREY ON CANNERY ROW CALIFORNIA HE WALKED INTO A GIFT SHOP AND NOTICED T SHIRTS WITH MY 1942 MERC WOODIE WAGON ON THE BACK…THE PICTURE USED WAS THE SECOND PICTURE TAKEN FROM THE LEFT SIDE REAR FROM THE CURBSIDE CLASSIC STORY .. … I HAVE TO ADMIT ITS A NICE T SHIRT.. WHAT A COMPLIMENT TO MY CAR..THANKS CURBSIDE CLASSIC….. WITHOUT YOUR PHOTOS AND STORY THIS WOULD OF NEVER HAPPENED…… ……PETE