1937 Ford Model 78 V8 Station Wagon
Chassis no. 7903413
When Ford redesigned its cars for 1935, moving the engine forward to between the front wheels and lengthening the passenger compartment it made a series of changes that were ideally suited to complement the four-door station wagon. "Center-Poise Ride," Ford's term for locating the passenger seats within the area in front of the rear axle played right into the hands of station wagon designers, creating room behind the usual back seat for a third row seat or leaving a large area for luggage and cargo. Both attributes perfectly suited the ways station wagons were intended to be used. The extra passenger compartment length created room for larger doors for easier access and the designers at Murray came up with rollup mechanisms for the front door windows.
Ford was trying to preserve its workforce and utilize its vast facilities efficiently in the face of reduced demand during the Depression. One significant change involved the station wagons. Until now the wood had been fabricated at Mengel Body in Kentucky and assembled by Baker-Raulang or Murray. Ford had vast timber holdings at Iron Mountain in Northern Michigan which had been used during the Model T and Model A era as a source of supply for wood framing used in building steel paneled bodies. The use of wood in passenger car bodies had, however, declined to almost nothing so in 1935 production of all the wood panels and frames for Ford's station wagons was brought inhouse at Iron Mountain. There it united Iron Mountain's large supply of old growth hardwood and its high quality saw and planing mill with shaping and assembling the panels. They were then shipped to Ford's assembly plants where they met up with Murray's special stampings for final assembly.
The station wagon has always been highly attractive to collectors. It combines the attraction of the automobile with the undeniable pull of beautifully grained and finished wood in the body framing and panels. The long winters of Michigan's Iron Mountain region produced slow-growing trees with dense rings and frequent flashes of brilliant color and unusual grain. Every Ford Woodie Wagon was therefore unique and the workers at Iron Mountain took special pride in the way they selected the wood, joined the intricately-shaped pieces and finished it for maximum color, effect and longevity.
As with most American cars, the aesthetics changed on an annual basis, thus while the Station Wagon aspect remained predominantly the same in this period a '37 Ford Woodie was blessed with same landmark revisions that the entire range received for that year with extremely attractive and forward thinking aerodynamic styling distinguished by its 'bull nose', split windshield and teardrop headlights faired into the wing tops. All of these aspects echoed the upmarket Lincoln Zephyr.
By definition the restoration of a Woodie offers its own challenges akin to that of rebuilding a boat, replacing all of the wood and maintaining the same colors and grains is near impossible and can destroy the wholesome feel that aged timber has, while a lack of attention to rotten areas can endanger a car's future. The happiest balance is to find a car that never suffered the indignity of being butchered or left outside to rot and this is just one such example.
With paint in Autumn Brown and a brown vinyl interior which retains its facory three rows of seating these aspects blend well with the original wood and make for an extremely attractive example. The car displays a hair's breath under 60,000 miles which is almost certainly its mileage from new, supported by the knowledge that the car had just two previous owners prior to its purchase by the current custodian in 1991 from Memphis, TN. It can most accurately be described as a sympathetic restoration that preserves its overall feel of originality but benefits from mechanical work at the hands of a noted Connecticut restorer to ensure that it is 'on the button' and ready to use. On file are various bills for work carried out, together with some records and copies of period handbooks.
A handsome example of its breed, it is sure to provide its new owner and their friends or family with happy nostalgic souvenirs in the summer months ahead.