Hooniverse Asks – Should Woodgrain on Wagons Make a Comeback?

To many of you, born too late to engender nostalgia for such things, a Woody isn’t just a Toy Story character or what you get watching Olivia Munn, but a specific kind of car. Starting out, most all cars were built primarily of wood, as that was reasonably light, strong and cheap material. However, aside from wheel spokes, most of the former trees were hidden under body panels, not letting on their knotty nature. One type car eschewed this concealment – the Woody actually celebrating that natural product’s color and texture – and created a category of car that is covetable still to this day.
Over time, the limitations of real wood became more obvious – maintenance, structural strength and cost being the most obvious, forcing manufacturers to evolve the woody into what became as common a suburban sight as empty vodka bottles spilling from over-filled trashcans- the vinyl-clad wood grain station wagon. Over the years, the wood grain appliqué finds its way from Country Squire to portly Pacer, and even onto some foreign jobs which wear the wood with somewhat less comfort than their American neighbors. Still, no matter the car, wood seems to look good.
And then something happened, much like to the once equally common vinyl roofs, wood grain on wagons disappeared as a factory option. Oh sure, station wagons also almost totally disappeared, but that doesn’t mean that their replacement mini vans and then SUVs couldn’t also get wood. In fact, the first generation of Chrysler’s  category defining and station wagon death-knelling mini vans had a wood appliqué option for a while there.
These days, that’s not so much. And that’s a sad thing in my book. A whole generation of kids is growing up and going to soccer practice and school in vehicles that lack any kind of outward visual nod to nature. Oh sure, there are leaf-emblazoned hybrids, but how jaunty do they look? So, the question is, should wood grain on wagons – or anything else with four wheels – once again be an option for those of us who go ape over ash, and appreciate an orgy of oak? Or, like Yugos and parachute pants, is that something that should remain in the past?
Image source: [OldParkedCars.com]

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  1. Black Steelies Avatar

    Ooh, thumbs up for an Old Parked Cars pic. Love that blog, one of my dailies.
    To answer the question, yes it should come back but only if automakers can bring back the long sweeping fuselage bodies from the past. The styling of most cars will just not work with woodgrain. The top gear Roadmaster gives it a shot and I heartily applaud the effort, but still.
    <img src="http://gmauthority.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Top-Gear-Buick-Roadmaster-Rear-1024×593.jpg&quot; width="600">

  2. OA5599 Avatar

    It would be difficult to put woodgrain on a modern vehicle without border trim that can look good without hindering aerodynamics. Given the recent push to higher CAFE ratings, I don't see it happening.

  3. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    No. This has been Short Answers to Simple Questions.
    The only justification would be a thick slathering of intentional irony, and we have more than enough already.
    If you're asking about actual wood on the body, then we can talk.

    1. Ryans92L Avatar

      Who called in the hipsters?!

    2. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      Funny, I came here to say exactly this, only reversed. Are you Bizarro me?

      1. Ryans92L Avatar

        you support the act of being a Hipster?!

        1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

          Oh HELL no! Well, they are fun to observe from afar, I guess. I was replying to Van.

        2. Tim Odell Avatar
          Tim Odell

          Hipster backlash is worse than hipsters themselves.

          1. CJinSD Avatar

            Is there a hipster backlash? Where do I sign up?

  4. Ryans92L Avatar


    1. SSurfer321 Avatar

      that's the first vehicle that popped into my head.

      1. Ryans92L Avatar

        as long as this wasn't second
        <img src="http://www.mismart.com/PT/4787a.jpg&quot; width=500>

        1. bzr Avatar

          Surprisingly, the PT Cruiser actually looks good with the woody package. Well, it looks any better than a regular PT Cruiser does.
          The Flex above looks like the wood trim was layered on with Play-Doh. Wood trim can def work on curvier cars, even the rear quarters of this RAD AS HELL Country Squire:
          <img src="http://www.stationwagon.com/gallery/pictures/1972_Ford_Country_Squire.jpg"&gt;

          1. njhoon Avatar

            I'll take the wood siding if I can have what appears to be a Chris Craft Constellation in the backround.

        2. Maymar Avatar

          That may have been my second thought. Say what you will about the PT's qualities, it pulled off the look reasonably well.

    2. Slow Joe Crow Avatar
      Slow Joe Crow

      you took the idea right out of my head, of course a woody Flex would have to be a Country Squire

    3. Lex Avatar

      Glad i read before typing.

  5. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I whipped up this slapchop to demonstrate the absurdity of the suggestion. But upon seeing how it looks, I am seriously conflicted.
    <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/CTS-V-Wagon-woodgrain.jpg"&gt;

    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      While acknowledging that it's just a first prototype, I have to say that it has potential. It does a good job of reducing the slab-sided look of the CTS.

    2. LTDScott Avatar

      Get rid of the piece over the front wheel and I'd ride it.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        You're right — once I'd done it, I thought the front arch was way wrong. But it wasn't worth any more time or effort.
        EDIT: Whataknow, it did turn out to be worth it, after all.

    3. skitter Avatar

      Thumbs up for the effort, and for changing my "no" to a "resounding no".

    4. Black Steelies Avatar

      Can't tell you how long I googled for a woodgrain CTS wagon. I mean at least a minute or so.

    5. buzzboy7 Avatar

      I was thinking just that. That is amazing. And cool enough for a ♥

  6. njhoon Avatar

    In a word NOOoooooo! Let it be in the past. The shopped versions of newer cars above only makes it painfully clear that today’s egg shaped over smoothed cars look foolish. Leave it in the past with the Landau roofs.
    edit for spelling

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Wait! Now you're ready to get rid of landau roofs forever, too? Man, you're harsh.
      <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/dakota-landau.jpg"&gt;

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        Christ 'nomi. I'd fly under the radar for awhile before your little virtual chop shop gets busted.

      2. Alff Avatar

        Now we know why you live far away from anyplace related to automotive design!

    2. njhoon Avatar

      Nibbles, I know there is a response but I can't see it…

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      The Flex could even stand to lose the vertical trim strips.

      1. Tomsk Avatar

        And the pieces on the fenders. The doors and rear quarters are enough on that shape, IMO.

    2. buzzboy7 Avatar

      This hurts me everytime I see it. Stoopid Rob Job.

      1. engineerd Avatar

        It would be better if it weren't for
        a) the wheels
        b) the window trim
        c) the grill and hood
        If it was just the sides, that would be enough and tasteful. Although, Ron Jon is anything but tasteful.

  7. RichardKopf Avatar

    I think wood trim would work on a MINI Clubman.

  8. scroggzilla Avatar

    No, thank you.

  9. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Actually, I could totally see a V70 with woody flanks. That could work.

    1. AlexiusG55 Avatar

      Some kind of light-coloured Scandinavian birch…

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        Rescue Attempt #2
        EDIT: This one worked! I just couldn't let "light-coloured Scandinavian birch" go unread by all.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Damn it. Thank you. I was trying to make this link accessible by clicking the image. HTML fail.
        My point was…. Bring back woodgrain, by all means. But let's have more inappropriate applications. Station Wagons have had woodgrain for generations. As we know, some sedans and a certain Town and Country convertible did, too. But let's have a few colonial oak Corvettes. A couple of Challengers.
        Or, howabout the above (extraordinarily bad DIY effort of a) Woodgrain Rover 213?

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          How about on the new Camaro? Simultaneously both utterly inappropriate and rather fitting, given that Chevy actually played with the idea seriously enough back in the day to produce a prototype.
          <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/woodgraincamaro.jpg"&gt;

          1. Juliet C. Avatar
            Juliet C.

            I would honestly rock that all over town. But I have no shame.

          2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

            Totally. Works for me. I'd hit it, and then keep on hitting it until the authorities become involved.

          3. Tomsk Avatar

            That actually almost kinda works. Straighten out the bottom and you might have something.

  10. Alff Avatar

    No. On the other hand, I'd love to see Porsche do a 911 Town and Country Edition. I wouldn't buy it but I'd like to see it.

  11. muthalovin Avatar

    I could see a Wood-Grain Graphix Pack for a Raptor…. Wait, no. Terrible idea.

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      IMO that would be better than the 'digital dirt' graphics they typically sport.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        I want one with the gradient color panels from a Jeep Honcho.
        <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Honchotruck.JPG"&gt;

        1. Black Steelies Avatar

          Ahh yes, that's a big 10-4.

        2. Smells_Homeless Avatar

          Wouldn't the 79 "Free Wheelin'" Bronco stripe package be more appropriate?

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            Sure, as long as it had "Raptor" spelled out in black, boldface, block letters on the doors.

          2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            Bringing up the "Free Wheelin'" trucks makes me think of the Free Wheelin' Courier.
            …Whose stripe package could totally work on a Raptor, as well.
            <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/77-freewheelin-ford-courier.jpg"&gt;

          3. Tomsk Avatar

            I have an unholy desire to buy a new EcoBoost F-150 4×4, paint it brown, stick a roll bar topped by a pair of KC spots (with smiley face covers, natch) in the bed, install a mild lift kit, throw on some old-school offroad-type wheels wearing modern mud tires, and (drumroll please) slap some big "TURBO" vinyls in a retro font and retro coloring (red on top, orange in the middle and yellow on the bottom) across the bottom of the doors.
            Oh, and then I'd see if the Sync system could be made to interface with a CB radio…

          4. Alff Avatar

            My first car, pictured, sans the graphics, "nice" wheels and "offroad" accessories. Looking at it now, it's hard to believe that's what I wanted mine to look like.

      2. Black Steelies Avatar

        We could do a whole Hooniverse asks on our fave vintage truck graphics. Next Thursday, chaps?!

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          Paging UD Man….Paging UD Man…White courtesy phone, please.

  12. mad_science Avatar

    Real wood veneer could make for a classy addition to a high-end luxo wagon. I'm thinking the higher-spec CTS or the like. The tricky part is implementing it in a way that doesn't require edge trim that generates giant panty-line bulges.
    Without a doubt, real wood needs to make a come back in a big way in interiors. It just needs to come in hues that don't remind me of my grandparents' 1970s furniture. Infiniti does this well on the M56, and the Mercedes Shooting brake concept from last year did as well:
    <img src="http://www.carbodydesign.com/archive/2010/04/mercedes-benz-shooting-break-concept/Mercedes-Benz-Shooting-Break-Concept-Interior-1-lg.jpg&quot; width="600">

  13. tonyola Avatar

    I never cared for the fake wood even on older wagons, so my answer is no. The last wagon allowed to have the wood look was the 1953 Buick Estate Wagon.
    <img src="http://k43.pbase.com/o4/26/12626/1/58366735.hbbc0602loDSCN5335.jpg&quot; width=500>

  14. dwicklund Avatar

    As much as I love woody wagons. its time has passed. I just can't see it working on a modern car.

  15. tonyola Avatar

    Anyone remember these? Mercury and Chrysler offered "wood" sides on coupes and convertibles during 1968. It was a very short-lived fad – the woodgrain look was gone by 1970.
    <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4044/4633856768_752368a314.jpg"&gt;
    <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2019/3716653135_411091957c_z.jpg?zz=1&quot; width="500/">

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      1967-68 was definitely woodgrain's peak. Which is my excuse to post the Rebel Mariner yet again.
      <img src="http://www.bigflea.com/amc/images/marinerad2.jpg"&gt;

      1. mad_science Avatar

        Ooo, baby, gimme some of that one-eyed lovin'
        God, AMC was so weird.

        1. Alff Avatar

          I'll let her walk my plank. Yo Ho Ho.

          1. tonyola Avatar

            But can she polish your peg leg and make your parrot squawk?

          2. Alff Avatar

            Aye, she may even blow the man down.

          3. jjd241 Avatar

            I'd like to drop my anchor in her lagoon….or possibly park my yardarm in her porthole….ARRRGGGGHHHH!

          4. Tomsk Avatar

            I love me a wench without depth perception. Yaaaarrrrr….

          5. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            Hence, the need for a wagon.

        2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          "God, AMC was so weird."
          That made me laugh about three times…so far.

          1. Alff Avatar


        3. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

          We watched The Giant Spider Invasion last night – aside from the horrible scriptwriting, laughable acting, and spider made by covering a Volkswagen Beetle in legs and fur, the thing that stuck out most was that the film, set in Wisconsin, had most of its vehicles provided by AMC, and advertised as much in the credits.

  16. kah Avatar

    Absolutely, they're like an aerosol cheese product! Nothing says WAGONS I like 'em and I like that I like 'em and don't care what you think better than simulated wood grain. It's like loving baseball even though your Cubs fan

  17. Jim-Bob Avatar

    I just tend to think that modern cars need to go away and old designs need to come back in their place. Wood grain may not work well on today's cars, but that is not the fault of the wood. It is the fault of the designers of new cars. They all look the same and show a lack of any real creativity.

  18. citroen67 Avatar

    I wood love to see real would trim make a comeback!
    Now…if you will excuse me, I was in the middle of writing a great essay on the proper use of homonyms, so I have to go back to work now. Wish me luck!

  19. Andrew Avatar

    No. Absolutely no. Not only would it be appallingly retro, it would be malaise-era retro, which is not something I'd wish to celebrate. Additionally, it neither simplifies nor adds lightness, both of which are desperately needed by the current crop of midsize vehicles.
    That said, carbon fiber may be the new wood. Imagine a CTS-V wagon with bodywork like this:
    <img src="http://www.auto-power-girl.com/high-resolution-wallpapers/koenigsegg-edition/koenigsegg-edition-2008-10.jpg&quot;, width=500>

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      But the malaise-era was the death of wood paneling, not its glory.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Visible carbon fiber: what your kids will be making fun of two decades from now.

      1. skitter Avatar

        Carbon fiber will remain visible as a mark of obsession.
        Paint is weight.

        1. Andrew Avatar


        2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

          Real carbon fiber, like real wood, exists out of necessity and cool factor. The fake adhesive versions of both are equally cheesy, but fake wood has a chauvinism-and-Scotch-era charm that, to me, stick-on carbon fiber will always lack.

    3. njhoon Avatar

      I waas just looking at some Wood Grain suppliers and started thinking 'Carbon Fiber…..Replace the wood grain with Carbon Fiber, that would be hilarious and as a added bomus it might not look all that bad."

  20. SSurfer321 Avatar

    There has been aftermarket support for wood grain for years.
    <img src="http://www.modifiedplanet.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/car-photo-funny-wood-body-kit-homemade-diy.jpg"&gt;
    *img from ModifiedPlanet.com

  21. Black Steelies Avatar

    From another Old Parked Cars post is this 'woody' Volvo wagon. It's not too recent but the thin accent wood paneling may be a way of introducing woodgrain back onto new cars. Baby steps…
    <img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_TsdjySqKQlI/TQ9ggYJH_oI/AAAAAAAAFn0/DBZdDL5U6f4/s1600/1983%2BVolvo%2B245%2BDL%2BWoodgrain%2BWagon.%2B-%2B3.jpg&quot; width="600">

  22. facelvega Avatar

    If you subtract the malaise historical connotations and the design morality of fake materials, just looking at the vintage photos in the comments seems to me a pretty convincing argument that multiple surface tones and textures are direly needed in new car culture. It's actually kind of weird that such a major branch of industrial design doesn't learn any lessons from the fact that we no longer make other things look boring and lazy.

    1. From_a_Buick_6 Avatar

      Absolutely. It's remarkable that a $200 smartphone can display such great attention to design and detail, yet a $20,000 sedan is so cheap and chintzy. That seems backwards.
      There's a total aversion to chrome these days, save for grilles, license plate garnishes and the occasional door handle. Any form of side molding is non existent, leaving modern cars to looking even more slab-sided than they already are. And when was the last time you saw tu-tone paint, or aluminum or stainless trim?
      There's so many design possibilities out there, but no one pursues them. Every carmaker is content to build the same bulbous blob. The only originality anymore exists in trying to design the ugliest corporate front clip. Sigh.

  23. LTDScott Avatar

    My friend just posted this on his Facebook page.
    <img src="http://kostkafex.tumblr.com/photo/1280/2962194620/1/tumblr_lf5e2amlvW1qdsahq"&gt;

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      That totally works slammed, and I hate slammed cars.

      1. SSurfer321 Avatar

        needs bigger wheels. or a chop.
        the proportions are just all wrong for me.
        but the woodgrain is fantastic!

  24. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Off-topic shout-out to Alff and Muthalovin — you're both at 99p! Press the "N" button and get ready for your hyperspace jump! See you on the other side!

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      99p? That's almost an entire quid!

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        How much is that in old money?

    2. Black Steelies Avatar

      Dead heat race to the triple digits.

  25. Paul_y Avatar

    I won't even read other comments.
    My answer: A MILLION TIMES, YES. This question doesn't need to be debated. It's a statement that needs to be acted upon.

  26. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    This 745Ti is my daily driver over the winter.
    <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5291/5398288260_050249257c_b.jpg&quot; width="600/">
    You Hoons may have to stop me from woodgraining it. I haven't yet decided.



    1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar