Old Woodies for Enthusiasts of Wood-bodied Cars and Trucks

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Woodies in 1/43 Scale

By Bruce Gibbins

A substitute for the real thing? Well, perhaps, but it's more than that, as it started with an interest and appreciation of all those wonderful woodie vehicles that have become the pride and pleasure of their adoring owners.

woodie modelAlthough never intended to be so, woodies are, subjectively speaking at the pinnacle of automotive art yet they started life as the most utilitarian of vehicles using construction methods that were all prevailing at the time. Call them what you will; depot hack, station wagon, shooting brake, estate, from the most humble Tin Lizzy Ford to the Lord of the Manor's Rolls-Royce, woodies all have one thing in common with each other, the ability to engender in us a warm glow of appreciation of a vehicle made partly of wood. A woodie personifies all that is good about 20th century motoring. It's a friendly vehicle, not foreboding like a limousine or prosaic like a sedan. It's about families, kids and visiting relatives, about journeys interstate, and the golden age of railroads, luggage, family pets and the reassuring smells of old leather, gasoline, gear oil and grandfathers tobacco smoke. It brings people together in fellowship and shared good times.

As a model collector of many years, my special interest has been models of American cars from the early 1930's through to 1955. This is the time of automotive design that interests me most - I drove cars from this period as a teenager. Model collectors usually collect in themes, time periods, marque's or perhaps cars of a particular country or maybe body styles they find interesting or are attracted to. A natural extension to my collecting theme of American cars are woodies, but because ready-built models and kits are scare, I have had several of the miniatures you see here built by commissioning the model building services of Erwin Messikommer in Switzerland and John Roberts in Britain who modified several existing non-woodie models. The others I have built myself from existing kits and others were bought fully built by the manufacturer.

Often, wealthy British land owners would have a Rolls-Royce or Bentley car converted to a woodie shooting break or an estate car and I would like to have replicated some of these vehicles in 1/43 scale. And so I am having built at the moment a Mulliner bodied Bentley from the 1950's which will be followed by a Duesenberg when I can find a decent white metal model to have converted and a wood design befitting an automobile of the Duesie's stature. I am fascinated by the hypothetical proposition of what a particular car would look like if it's owner had taken it to a specialist body builder to have it converted into a woody station wagon and so I intend to pursue this idea in model form using donor models of cars and light trucks that we don't usually associate as being produced as a Woodie.

Planned as conversions for the near future is a 1942 Chevrolet and a 1939 Ford both based on ½ ton pickup chassis's from a range of models by Durham Classics in Canada. I also have in the planning stages several British cars, the next will be a Lansdowne1957 Rover P4 often referred to in their country of origin as "Auntie" a car based on the Raymond Loewy designed Studebakers of the late 1940's. As each model is built I will post a picture of the new creation to the Old Woodies site so that it can be shared with all those interested in these diminutive woody creations. I hope you enjoy this page and themodels pictured here.

More of Bruce's miniature woodies can be found in the Woodie Model Gallery.

Bruce Gibbins hails from New Zealand and can be reached at gibbins@xtra.co.nz

© 1999 All commercial rights retained by the author, Bruce Gibbins.
Permission is freely granted for any non-commercial use,  provided that the author
and the Old Woodies Internet website at www.oldwoodies.com are acknowledged.

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