A woodie is a car body style, especially a station wagon, where the rear bodywork is constructed of wood framework with infill panels of wood or painted metal.
After the demise of actual wood construction, manufacturers used simulated woodgrain sheet vinyl — sometimes augmented with three-dimensional, simulated framework — to recall wood construction. In 2008, wood construction was evoked abstractly on the Ford Flex with a series of side and rear horizontal grooves.
1930s and 40sEdit
As a variant of body-on-frame construction, woodies originated from the early (pre mid-1930s) practice of manufacturing the passenger compartment portion of a vehicle in hardwood. The woodie was popular in the United States and were produced as variants of sedans and convertibles as well as station wagons, from basic to luxury. They were typically manufactured as third-party conversions of regular vehicles — some by large, reputable coachbuilding firms and others by local carpenters and craftsmen for individual customers. They could be austere vehicles, with side curtains in lieu of roll-up windows (e.g., the 1932 Ford) — and sold in limited numbers (e.g., Ford sold 1654 woodie wagons). Eventually, bodies constructed entirely in steel supplanted wood construction — for reasons of strength, cost and durability.
1950s and 60sEdit
Woodies were produced in the greatest numbers before the end of the 1950s, before safety regulations would effectively have made them obsolete.
In 1950, Plymouth discontinued their woodie station wagon. Buick manufactured its last woodie in 1953. By 1955, only Ford and Mercury offered a woodie, evoking real wood with other materials including steel, plastics and DiNoc (a vinyl product). Ford offered its wood models as the Country Squire trim level in numerous model ranges from the 1940s to the 1990s. The British Motor Corporation (BMC) offered the Morris Minor Traveller (1953–71) with wood structural components and painted aluminum infill panels — the last true mass-produced woodie. Morris' subsequent Mini Traveller (1961–9) employed steel infill panels and faux wood structural members.
After the demise of models using actual wood construction, manufacturers continued to evoke wood construction with sheet-vinyl appliques of simulated wood grain, sometimes augmented with three-dimensional, simulated framework — and later by a simple series of indented grooves in the bodywork.
The 1966 Chevrolet Caprice in its second season, added to the four-door hardtop body style a full line of models including a vinyl-wood trimmed station wagon, the Caprice Estate. Dodge also reintroduced simulated wood the same year.
Ford marketed the Ford Pinto Squire with vinyl simulated wood trim in the early 70s. When Chevrolet proposed a simulated woodgrain option for the Chevy Vega Kammback wagon for the 1973 model year, after a gap of four years of applying woodgrain film on the Caprice, the Vega's production schedule made smooth application of the applique difficult without wrinkles and heavy scrappage — and requiring retraining by the film supplier. Subsequent rebadged variants of the Vega (marketed as "Woody"), including the Pontiac Astre Safari, Chevrolet Monza Estate and Pontiac Sunbird Safari, also offered simulated wood trim. Chevrolet offered a simulated woodie version of the Chevette in 1976, and AMC offered the Pacer wagon with optional simulated wood trim in 1977.
Ford also marketed version of their Ranchero model, a coupe utility produced between 1957 and 1979 with an open bed like a pickup truck but from a station wagon platform, with simulated woodgrain siding.
Introduced in 1981, the Ford Escort and Mercury Lynx four-door wagons offered optional simulated wood trim. GM offered its full-size wagons in wood trim versions until their final year in 1996. As the station wagon declined in North America, manufacturers offered faux wood trim on SUVs and minivans (e.g., the Jeep Cherokee and Chrysler minivans). Chrysler offered simulated wood as an option for the Chrysler PT Cruiser, introduced in 2000 — and aftermarket firms offered kits as well.
In 2010, George Barris created a woodie version of the Smart Fortwo, an aftermarket firm offered a simulated wood kit for the same car, and GM displayed a prototype woodie version of the forthcoming Chevrolet Spark for the 2010 Paris Motor Show.
Introduced in 2008, the Ford Flex featured a series of side and rear horizontal grooves intended to evoke a woodie look — without either wood or simulated wood. Car Design News said the styling references "a previous era without resorting to obvious retro styling cues."