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Preserved Survivor: 1939 Ford Standard Woody Wagon

Most enthusiasts think that woody wagons were born in Ford’s shops – and in one way, that is correct. But very early cars of all makes were mostly made of wood – a natural extension of the way carriages were constructed. Stamping steel was expensive back then. The first mass-produced car – the Oldsmobile Curved Dash – was a wood-bodied car. But when we’re talking about the woody wagon and mass production, the crown does belong to Ford’s 1929 Model A Station Wagon. By the time Ford made his wagon, the body style had become a social climber, far from its roots as a hauler of nearly anything: Rolls Royce and Cadillac made coach-built wagons in the early 1920s. But Ford’s version was – in keeping with the company’s mission – for everyman. Here on craigslist, located twenty minutes from where I am writing this article in Boring, Oregon, is a 1939 Ford Standard woody wagon in very well-preserved condition. The asking price is $70,000. The car was used by Standard Oil of Southern California at some point, and still displays the company name on both doors even after all these years. We owe T.J. big thanks for this magnificent find!

In 1939, Ford was making three engines. The base engine for the Standard was a 136 cu. in. flathead V8 – Henry’s “frugal” choice for gas misers. It made 60 hp and while that would have been fine in a Model A, by now Ford’s cars were much heavier, and the wagons were heavier still. Standard owners could also opt for the 221 cu. in. V8 – the base engine for the DeLuxe – with 85 hp. Brand new for 1939 was the 239 cu. in., pumping out 95 hp. Plenty of early Fords have seen swaps to the 239. But no matter the motor, the transmission was a three-speed manual. The seller indicates that the wagon runs, stops, and shifts just as it should.

The interior patina matches the exterior perfectly. The roof is beautiful; the seller says he can detect only a few pieces of wood in the entire car that may have been replaced. Floor photos show zero rust. Just 3277 Standard wagons were made in 1939, as owners were beginning to discover that woodies were a maintenance nightmare.

The tailgate’s lower panel shows some delamination. The single reflector marks this as a Standard, as does the position of the headlights next to the grille and the grille itself with its horizontal bars. The DeLuxe was given updated sheet metal with headlights centered in the fenders and a clean, vertical-slat grille. Prices for woodies have been sliding over the last few years. Restomods can pull very high prices – close to six figures. But original cars are hovering at half that. Does such a meticulously preserved, but eighty-year-old vehicle deserve a premium?


  1. Howard A Member

    “Let’s go surfin’ now, everybodys learning how, come on a safari with me”,,,I wonder if the wood station wagon would have had anywhere near the attraction, had it not been for the Beach Boys. Most woodys led a utilitarian life. The irony there was, only one member of the band knew how to surf, Dennis Wilson. They created quite a phenomenon, as anyone with a wood station wagon had to have a surf board or 2 hanging out the back. I heard, it was total bunk, and surfing just wasn’t as popular as music culture made it seem. Trying to surf in L. Michigan didn’t work either.
    Patina lovers will scream bloody murder if you restore it, claiming this is what they really looked like. I say, nuts to that, and give this old gal some dignity. Restored, they really are beautiful cars.

    Like 4
    • Will Fox

      I whole-heartedly agree Howard. These are fewer & fewer in number as time marches on, and as complete and solid as this is, it deserves a frame-off restoration. And given it’s history, I myself would re-create the lettering on both doors as it was in 1939-40. It shows who owned it originally, and it’s a name everyone recognizes! I would even paint it the original brown color. As others have said before, “just try to find another one this nice!”

      Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      There are some cars that are driveable with surface rust intact but there are some that need to be restored and preserved. Not locked away in a warehouse but available to show and to drive. I always envied Nick Alexander for his collection of woodies, which he restored, drove and showed off. I also have to say that I was upset when he decided to sell off the majority of his collection. Here’s a pic of a ’39 Std that he owned. I wish I could have that one on my driveway…

      Like 0
  2. RayT Member

    I’d have to restore it, too. With the wood in proper shape, nice paint and whatever it needs mechanically, this would be flat-out wonderful.

    Assuming the engine is original — quite a few replacement engines came from Ford after WWII — I’d find another and kit it out with speed equipment: aluminum heads, three 97s on an aftermarket manifold, maybe a cam, and swap that engine in for cruising and Cars & Coffee trips. Wouldn’t take long to put it back to strictly stock.

    No SBCs, Mustang II front ends or Vintage Air kits, please.

    Like 3
    • Kenneth Rankel

      My uncle has my grandfather’s 48 woody with less than 17000 original miles

      Like 1
  3. "Edsel" Al leonard Member

    What they said……

    Like 2
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    Got to wonder how many of these guys are left. Agree a little dignity would do wonders for this one. Great find.

    Like 1
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    Nothing like a Woodie to brighten your day. My Dad could never understand why people in my generation like woodies so much. Dad said they were cold, dusty, noisy, drafty, they squeaked constantly and were just plain uncomfortable. Of course he would’ve only been 14 when this car was in its heyday. Back then a lot of people who had cabins in the mountains needed a station wagon to get their stuff up and back. Dad would’ve been stuck in the back…

    Like 2
    • Scrapyard John

      I can see your Dad’s point. No experience with these myself, but I could see the possibility that these might be more fun to look at than to actually drive. Like a lot of older vehicles, the novelty might wear off if you actually had to use them as a daily driver.

      No offense to these in particular. I used to daily drive a CJ5 as my only vehicle. Although I’d love to have another one, I wouldn’t want to go back to one as my sole method of transport! That may be how your Dad was looking at it.

      Like 5
  6. Jim

    I’d want to restore it, but I don’t think one totally restored would bring that kind of money. About $60K is top for a restored vehicle. There is no room to do anything to it at 70K. But it is getting harder to find them in that shape. Just wish they would bring more money at auctions. Yes, I know any vehicle is worth what someone is willing to pay.

    Like 1
  7. Todd

    I say it should be left exactly as it is, and not be restored. It is a wonderful time capsule.

    Like 1
  8. Donnie

    I love this car as it sits. Yes it would be tempting to restore her and give her some dignity but this old girl has a story to tell just the way she is and that has some dignity to it as well.

    Like 0

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