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1951 Chevrolet Tin Woody: Has Rust?


I have to laugh at the description of this 1951 Chevrolet Tin Woody wagon here on craigslist: there’s a line with either a sarcastic or erroneous question mark after the sentence, “Has rust?” I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but to answer your question, yes – this Styleline wagon has plenty of rust. But like many vehicles of this vintage with wood paneling on the side, logic is not always a factor when tackling projects like this.


If you only look at this picture, the Tin Woody doesn’t look too bad. Even the wood trim appears to be salvageable. It’s sat in a barn since 1970, so you might expect that it had some level of protection from the elements, but you would be wrong. From this view, you can see some of the interior is missing and there’s surface rust beneath the windows. However, the Chevy was advertised when new as being ideal for hauling because the backseat was so easily removed, so perhaps it’s still sitting in the barn the wagon was pulled from.


Yep. That’s a gaping hole in the roof. Rust has eaten its way through quite cleanly from one side to the other, rendering the insides exposed to whatever was coming down from the rafters of the barn it was stored in. I’m guessing the barn, also, suffered from structural issues since the corrosion is so contained to the roof and the hood. Fortunately, the tail gate is present and accounted for, as this is one of the tougher pieces to find if you’re restoring a Woody like this one.


No mention is made of the engine or transmission, or whether it’s numbers matching. It’s a California black plate car, so there’s some level of originality here that might make this an interesting candidate for restoration. I’ve seen fully restored examples selling near $50,000, but I’m not sure if those are ambitious outliers or actually indicative of what these are worth. There’s a dedicated enthusiast base for these Tin Woodys, so you’ll find good virtual support if you take this project on. Is it worth it?


  1. 64 bonneville

    The asking price makes the car worth considering. However with it needing a roof and hood replacement at a bare minimum, and another 12K in body work to get to fair condition on the outside, it wouldn’t take long to be waaaay upside down in a restoration, let alone make into a street rod. Seems that the “wood” sides are actually painted metal, but I could be wrong.

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  2. Vince Habel

    some of it is wood.

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    • Tim

      What parts of trim are actually wood?

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      • Matt Tritt

        The inside window trim and panelling.

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      • Tim

        Oh on the inside, of course!

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  3. Luke Fitzgerald

    More landfill

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  4. Dan h

    That thing is a goner :(

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  5. Mark S

    Holy $h!t that is a rust bucket, tin woody don’t you mean TINWORM woody. You know this damage didn’t happen over night, you’d think that the owner would have noticed that the rain was quite literally beating a hole in the top of this car. So he lets it go to to crap for years and now he thinks it’s worth something. This is one of the rustiest cars I’ve seen on here.except for maybe the odd 356 that comes through this site. Pull off the doors and tail gate and crush the rest of it.

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  6. brakeservo

    Palm Springs Craigslist?? Photos look more like maybe Humboldt County with all it’s ocean salt air. One wonders if there’s $40 worth of salvageable parts left. After this length of time, unless the original “pink slip” and registration documents still exist, there’s no way of knowing if that black plate ever belonged to this carcass or not. Not that it matters much, I can’t see this thing ever moving down a road under it’s own power again . . .

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  7. socaljoe

    Mark S, my thoughts exactly. In fact leave the doors and tail gate and crush it.

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  8. Matt Tritt

    What rust?

    These cars had NO exterior wood parts, just on the inside.

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  9. JACKinNWPA Jacob P. Member

    Yep, I’d cut what’s left of rear roof off, weld the rear doors and make a pickup.

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  10. Ed P

    Parts car at best

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  11. Charles

    A Chevy 356?

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  12. DENIS

    Ad should have said..”RUST-FREE”……I/E No extra charge for the rust. I don’t have enough years left to finish this one…

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  13. Tundra/BMW Guy

    You see the mess in the driveway by the drivers door? It appears like that mess was made by opening the front door!! As for the cutting the roof off and welding the rear doors shut. You gotta have metal to weld to, don’t you? I would be afraid that if you did cut the roof off, the car would either fold in half or disintegrate before your eyes. Repeat: see the mess on the driveway from just opening one door! Looks like a pile of rust transferred from car to driveway!
    As I have said before: ashes to ashes, rust to dust……………..

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  14. Jason Houston

    This is definitely a Nor. Cal car, as by the BVF series 1963 plates. The car is all metal. The last Chev. wagon to use wood was 1949. Some rust, but looks minimal. I’d tackle it, as it’s a rare enough car as it is. And Fathom Green is an ideal color, too. Hey, this is what they call an SUV today – a big, tall, roomy station wagon!

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  15. RON

    wow, those must be a complete different kind of termite in that area of the US. The Formosan came into the Port of New Orleans years ago and have been known to be some of the toughest and most difficult to treat or kill. The strain where this car came from must be something else. Wood is treated with many things but this strain can’t even be treated with “Rustoleum” A metal termite!!! Who would have thunk it!!

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