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Pizzazz Came in the Form of Wood
Mar 12, 2009 | Views: 390
As automakers prepared their new models right after the Second World War, they tried to disguise the fact that what they had to offer was nothing more than warmed-over 1942 cars. One way was to inject a little pizzazz into them, hoping to provide a halo effect for the more prosaic offerings.
Ford's attempt at pizzazz was to combine the appeal of the convertible with the upscale cachet of the wood-panelled station wagon. The result was the Ford Sportsman, a convertible coupe with its body sides and trunk covered by mahogany veneer inserts surrounded by maple or birch framing. And it was real wood, not the plastic-simulated variety of later years. Ford's supply came from its own huge forest and sawmill at Iron Mountain in northern Michigan.
Ford wasn't alone in following this recipe. Chrysler had made a woody model in 1941-'42 called the Town and Country, and carried it and the name over to post-war woody cars. Chrysler went even further than Ford and applied wood to both sedans and two-door convertibles. Nash also had a wood-trimmed Ambassador Suburban sedan from 1946 to 1948.
And there was also the matter of maintenance. Like wooden boats, woody convertibles and wagons had to periodically have the wood tightened up and refinished.
But woody wagons and convertibles are now sought-after collectibles worth many times their original price.
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