Today, in order to distract you from your civic duty, I would like to call your mind back to a different age – a more nostalgic time.  A time of ice cream trucks, 9 to 5 jobs, and eating at home.  A time of “Lassie” and “Leave it to Beaver.”

Yes, indeed, a time of wood paneling on cars.

I just don’t understand fake wood paneling.  Why would someone want a car with an outside that looked like it was only partially made of wood? As if the steel top and the steel bottom needed some kind of weak material in between to hold it all together…

Station wagon,  I blame you!  You brought this fad into our lives.  You are responsible.

Then there’s the grand wagoneer.  Wow.  This car was just a marvel of modern design, wasn’t it?  It’s a station wagon trying desperately to live in a world of the up-and-coming mini-van and SUV.  I remember we used to have a neighbor with one of these cars which was often parked in the driveway.  I used to stare at it, marvelling at its confusion… is it a truck?  Is it a car?  Is it a luxury car with all that wood paneling?

So in an effort to understand wood paneling, or “woodies” as I came to found out they were called, I turned to the founte of all knowldege.. Wikipedia:

Reintroduction of woody decorated station wagons by other makers in America began in 1966 when Dodge offered the look for the first time in fifteen years. By 1967, simulated “wood” decoration was used exclusively on top line models, with unadorned vehicles denoting lower price and status models.

In many suburban communities, owning a current year woody station wagon was a sign of affluence and good taste. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the idea of “fake wood” became archaic and manufacturers dropped the option. With the introduction of the retro-styled Chrysler PT Cruiser, aftermarket firms began selling faux woodie kits designed to evoke a sense of nostalgia.

So now I understand!  The people who like wood paneling are the same weirdos who like PT Cruisers. It all  makes sense now!

Armed with my new research, I think I want to bring back the suburban status symbol of a strip of fake wood down the side of my car.  Think it will catch on?  Who is with me?

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15 Responses to Wood Paneling

  1. Alison says:

    Ohhhh, we had a mauve (yes, mauve) station wagon with fake wood paneling in the 80’s. I rode around in the “very back” seat that faced the opposite way from the rest of the car seating. I would stare at people in the car behind us at stop lights, sing to myself while wrapping myself in my Carebear tie quilt, and sometimes get car sick from lack of air in the very back and an insanely hot Texas summer day. It was a hideous piece of crap and it does make me smile when I think about it, but you’re right, wood paneling nowadays is for a weirdo who drives a PT Cruiser. (Those things are ugly enough without the paneling. Why make it worse? Honestly!) Although, it might be funny to see a Honda with wood paneling. hehe.

  2. Rhia Jean says:

    To show my affluence and nostalgia at the same time, I will put wood paneling on my Miata. I
    kind of have it on the inside. There are parts that have plastic that looks like wood…plastic
    wood. Is that a sign of affluence?

  3. big bro says:

    that gives me a great idea… since my honda needs a paint job I think I will paint it in a complete woody fashion, what do you all think? Full wood treatment, I’ll make it look like a big log.

  4. Lil Brudder says:

    The other day coming home from school I passed a VW bug painted a dark purple with that GOOD OL’ wood paneling. *Barf*

  5. Kara says:

    Rhia Jean, if you find wood paneling for a miata, let me know! LoL! I want it! 🙂

  6. Thatcher says:

    You’ve missed the point on the history of the woodie. In the early years of autos, they all had wood in the frame because it was easiest to make affordable. Then came the station wagon, which was literally to carry you to the train station and had a wooden body. They became used to travel around on huge estates, and were hand crafted. Then came cars all metal frame and having a wooden body was expensive to do and had the status of those huge estates.

    In the 50s and 60s when vinyl was invented they could more inexpensively get “the look” that didn’t need constant maintenance. The Wagoneer was innovative at the time, station wagon luxury and looks and truck like toughness and four-wheel drive, so much that it was unchanged for over 30 years. PT Cruisers are postwar retro design, so of course people will customize them in postwar taste.

    The styling, yes has faded and in some cases it is slapped on as an afterthought. Its true the slap on stickers of wood that look hurried look bad, because it looks cheap. But many things have been called ugly like Victorian Houses with all there delicate woodwork and Post Modern design which seems to be nothing but white cubes sometimes. But to call wagons ugly just because its practical and useful and your afraid of some moron driving a Trans Am or Escalade might make fun of you because his mother owns one is ignorant and is driving it because he was told to. It takes a real man to drive a wagon, and the Wagoneer is the toughest one out there with its 360 V8.

    I myself drive a Roadmaster Estate woodie, the last of the true big rear wheel drive wagons. I also have a Volvo rat rod, a Chevy Van. The Roadmaster has an LT1 Corvette stock motor and a towing trans, and can waste most modern stock muscle cars off the line. The Volvo is the mileage maker and has 300,000 miles. The van gets abused around the farm daily and is a was a work van for a business I worked for. These cars earn their respect, because they do it with your noses in the air.

    The idea of wood on the cars comes from 30s woodies, handcrafted with loving care, being sold for top dollar what someone put hundreds of hours into. Something that was once alive integrated in gives the vehicle a life of its own and a uniqueness you just can’t find in a factory… And for someone to want to recreate that feeling in whatever way is most feasible or affordable, is crazy and laughable. I just feel sorry for you.

  7. Courtney says:

    Thatcher, Beautifully put. Everyone else, suck on that.

  8. Alan says:

    Whoever wrote this crass and coldhearted attack on a grand old automotive tradition- that is exactly what it was, by the way- I could not possibly disagree with you more. I have spent every minute of my life up to now becoming a person who could not possibly like this awful column of yours. I like to think that the effort was not in vain.

    You have completely missed the point, as Thatcher said. Your aim was wrong, and it wouldn’t have mattered had it been right, ’cause the target moved to another room five hours ago and you were too busy ranting to notice.

    Thatcher and Courtney gave you a verbal buttkicking you richly deserved, and if my comment here did anything to help them, I will be most satisfied. I agree with Thatcher and Courtney 100%.

  9. Alan says:

    And wood paneling on a Mazda Miata? Or a Corvette? *purrs*. Sexy.

  10. Jack Bartow says:

    I for one am offended! :)i drive a 1979 Chrysler Town & Country LeBaron It’s a station wagon with wood panels I am currently restoring. And I hate HATE the PT Cruiser it looks like a booger Volkswagen.

  11. Enzo Bibolotti says:

    I have a Jeep Grand Wagoneer 1989, is in beautifull conditions, but my wood panels start to lose color and cracking.
    I would like to buy new panels. Could someone tell me where?.
    Thank you.

  12. Sonny Joe says:

    Folks like Thatcher, Courtney, Alan, and myself, can only hope that the number of morons in the universe like you, “White Closed Eyes”, is shrinking . . !

  13. manuela says:

    i just think of carwrapping my audi coupé with wood-looking film.
    that’d be polarizing.
    i love catching one’s eye!

  14. Jeannie Barnes says:

    What can you use to clean and shine wood panels on a car

  15. rabbit says:

    Ask the people at Morgan how “weak” wood is. Or anyone who’s ever worked with it. You know, to build houses with. Or bridges.

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