Body by Cantrell: 1950 Dodge Woodie

Station wagons with wooden bodies were quite the thing in the 1930s and 1940s. They often served to transport the affluent population to ski lodges and the like. But, by the 1950s, demand was down and the cost of building and maintaining these products was getting prohibitive. One of the companies that built bodies for these wagons was the J.T. Cantrell Co. out of New York and Dodge was one of the many makes they would attach them to. This 1950 Dodge is said to have last been a surf wagon and may be drivable with a little work (and luck). Located in Long Island, New York, this rare old bird is available here on eBay for $13,900 (or you can tender an offer and see what happens). Thanks for the tip, Peter Rettig!

The J.T. Cantrell Company was in business from 1905 to 1958. They started off in the carriage building and repair trade until the automobile caught on and they branched out into building a variety of bodies for an assortment of brands. Their first was fitted to a Ford Model T in 1915. By the end of the 1950s, GMC and Chevy were their main targets, with Dodge being a part of the mix in between. Everything was hand-made, and we’re told that Cantrell did the body on the seller’s wagon. And from what we can tell, an extended chassis was used for this one, allowing for more people and/or cargo.

For a paid listing on eBay, the pitch for selling this Woodie comes with limited words and photos, and the latter are variations of the same thing. With only one good look at the exterior and a limited interior pose, it’s hard to gauge how much work is needed here. Besides the seller telling us the “car is solid” there’s no way of knowing how much expensive woodwork will be needed. The wagon likely has a 230 cubic inch inline-6 under the hood that may run once you get the fuel and cooling “dialed in.” It needs brakes but has a heater in the back that would help keep passengers warm. The last pic is of a shorter wheelbase version of a restored Dodge Woodie here on Hemmings from a few years ago.


  1. John

    Super Neato, but tinworms, termites and glass crack monsters coupled with a high (like Snoop) price, lame description, poor photos make this an absolute NOPE

    Like 7
  2. Steve

    It really makes you wonder if the seller really wants to sell the vehicle, what with the lack of pictures and description.

    Like 4
  3. Greg Gustafson

    It’s interesting that there are no rear or RH side photos of this vehicle. One can clearly, and I mean clearly, see through the RF door where there used to be a panel below the door glass. As Randy Jackson, from American Idol used to say; “Umm, that would be a no for me dog.”

    Like 4
  4. Howard A Member

    Hooked to a 48 foot reefer would have me worried, and the door seal around the steering wheel looks bad. Just kidding, I think it’s a neat find, from Lon Guyland, who knows what stories if this thing could talk. Certainly nothing that would involve a surf board, I bet. Woodies are incredibly tough, and expensive to restore. 57 “watchers” and no bids, well, I can hear it now,, “hey pussbag, wasamatter, don’t a like a my truck, eh?” Just kidding, that would be more of a Joisey thing, I suppose. $1,000 bucks, tops, just because it’s so unusual, not valuable.

    Like 2
  5. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Having restored many cars requiring wood for the body, and having our own wood shop to create copies, prior to retiring in 2001, I can tell you from experience, with wood [white ash] weathered/bleached to a light gray color, I would expect all the wood to require replicating. While some of the pieces might appear OK, once wood has deteriorated to that extent, it’s not going to be the same specifications it was when new, and the cellular aspect of the wood has now deteriorated and requires replacement. The door center panels are probably mahogany, a strong cellular wood that ages well and is not prone to rot. Seeing those mahogany panels in that light gray tells me those panels are too far gone to save, even if they are all there. [Good patterns they are!]

    I do not believe this is a Cantrell Body. My take on this truck is that it’s likely one of only perhaps a couple of dozen or so built by the Campbell [aka Hercules Campbell] body co, however because there is almost DOUBLE the amount of wood as a typical wood-bodied wagon, I can see this costing at least $75k to have ONLY the body restored.

    I am attaching a photo of a former fire department version, said to be built by Campbell Body Co. As it’s plain to see, they are the same woodworking details, but the red one is slightly shorter. If you look up Dodge truck with Campbell body you will find more than a few matching this truck. Campbell also made this basic wagon body for Power Wagons as well.

    It’s a rare truck, that’s for sure, and deserves to be restored, but whoever takes this on, even doing all the restoration work themselves, they will probably be financially under water on completion. I suspect the raw white oak and mahogany lumber will cost at least $8,000, maybe more. While anything is possible, I would be surprised if it sells for even half what it’s advertised at, due to the huge amount of work involved.

    At least the current owner is the type who knows what he has, just not what it’s worth.

    Like 7
  6. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Here is another Campbell long body Dodge truck. Most Campbell bodies were made to order, one or 2 at a time. While the owner says this is a Campbell, The upper section of the front door vent window is different from other Campbell Dodge trucks.

    Like 3
  7. George Birth

    Too much work for too little return.

  8. HC Member

    Reminds me of the Hank Williams song, If you’ve got the money I’ve got the time. And this big Dodge Woodie will take plenty of both. Still a good find

  9. Idiot Boy

    Cantrell’s Rule still applies regardless…

  10. Boomer

    This truck sold recently at the Mark Smith estate auction in Lynchburg, VA. Mr Smith was deceased at the time of the auction, which makes the current seller’s ‘previous owner said it ran 4 yrs ago’ a bit dubious. It still has the auction tag on the windshield in one of the photos. Selling price was $3000, plenty of interest (including myself and a friend) but there’s a reason it sold so ‘cheap’. Contrary to description, it is not “solid” but does indeed need a LOT of work. Well worth restoring and plenty to work with IMO, but as others have said – plan on it being quite spendy.

    Here’s the original link for better photos

    Like 2
  11. chrlsful

    far from a woodie station wagon, this is a ‘truck’.
    Love the coach builders! Supreme modders and not
    really “after market” as wrk hand in hand w/the manufacturers.

    Tough restore? Not like a coach build, they’re the toughest (“custom ona custom”) add ‘woodie’ to that? Not for me. Better at the wood than the rest but I’m ‘over the hill’ and ‘the rest of my life’ on this? no tanks.

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