1937 Ford Model 78B Deluxe Station Wagon
Chassis no. 183519459
221ci, flathead 85hp V8
Three-speed manual transmission
Comprehensive restoration by Woodie expert Chris Messano
Beautifully presented Iron Mountain wood
Ready to storm the beaches of La Jolla, the Hamptons, and beyond
Ford, the most renowned maker of Woodie wagons stepped into the game in part to capture a market segment, but also to make use of an excess resource. A 1935 redesign moved the engine forward to between the front wheels, lengthened the passenger compartment and made a series of changes that were ideally suited to complement the four-door station wagon. At the same time, Ford's legendary vertical integration had led to the acquisition and maintenance of large timber holdings in Iron Mountain in Northern Michigan. Originally required for framing the steel panel bodies of the Model T and Model A, by the mid-30s the use of wood in passenger car bodies was basically nil. Previously outsourced to Mengel Body in Kentucky, 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 resultant marriage of excess, high quality lumber and nicely styled utilitarian design are in part why the Woodie 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.
This black Deluxe Station Wagon was ordered new with all the goodies. As a Deluxe model, the new owner enjoyed the pleasure of dual windscreen wipes, dual side-view mirrors, fog lamps, Deluxe-model-only banjo-spoke steering wheel, Deluxe dash, and wide-whitewall tires. Comprehensively restored in 2008 by Woodie wunderkind Chris Messano of Long Beach, California, careful work to preserve and restore the authenticity of the maple and birch of which the car is made was undertaken. In addition to restorative work, a few tasteful (and if desired, reversible) upgrades were carried out including the addition of dual-tip exhaust, period correct alloy heads, and an all-wood rear hatch in place of the original metal framed until that matches the rest of the wood body.
Few cars are more fun or enjoyable that a Woodie Wagon, especially with a family in tow. Whether cruising the main drag, heading to brunch on a Sunday morning, or hightailing it to the beach on a sunny day, one is hard pressed to think of a betting vehicle in which to do it than in a Woodie like this one!
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.