Wooden Wonder: 1949 International Station Wagon

Seems like wood is everywhere these days. I have found wood-sided, or woodies, from Pontiac, Ford, Buick, Chrysler (both wagon and sedan) and now International. And this 1949 International KB-1 woodie wagon has been a bit of everywhere too, including Hemmings and Bring A Trailer. Changing it up, this Texarkana, Texas domiciled International is available here on craigslist for $49,500. Thanks to Ikey H. for this tip!

The KB-1 woodie was a station wagon version of International’s KB-1 truck series which was further based on the KB series trucks originally introduced in 1940. The last KB-1 truck or wagon was built in 1949 and then International moved forward with its “L” series trucks. No more woodies after 1949.

The history of this wagon states that it was in one family from 1950, but I find the chain of events confusing going forward. It sounds like the original owner’s son restored this KB-1 in 1970 and then tried to sell it in 2015 on Hemmings here. This woodie was located in Wisconsin at the time. It was then referenced on Bring A Trailer, also in 2015 here. It’s now on Craigslist but will be auctioned, by the second owner, on Bring A Trailer in two weeks if it doesn’t sell via craigslist. Got it? Good!

As with most of these vehicles that I have reviewed, the woodwork is stellar, even if it has been half a century since it was refinished. Likewise, with the steel body other than a dent in the rear right fender, it is very straight and rot free. The finish is a respray in the original shade and has a typical for finishes of the time, a soft sheen to it. The chrome trim, which appears to be all present, still has a luster and the grille is extremely straight, not always the case with a vehicle of this era that has liked to lead with its chin. Rounding out the exterior is the canvas roof, it too was replaced in ’70 and shows no sign of exposure. With all of this restoration work performed 50 years ago, this International has obviously been well stored.

The seller makes no mention regarding this woody’s powerplant other than to say it runs but needs a new fuel tank. Apparently it’s drawing fuel from a two-gallon plastic container mounted under the hood and has been for the last four and a half years – Yikes!  While no details or images of the engine are included in the listing, I found a picture of it attached to the Hemmings listing. It is a 214 CI, in-line, flathead, six-cylinder engine that develops 82.9 HP. The Hemmings listing claims that the engine was rebuilt when the exterior was restored. A three-speed manual transmission completes the powertrain.

The interior is spartan, exactly what you would expect. The seats have been recovered in original style upholstery material (vinyl or Naugahyde) and the floor mat looks very presentable still. The door cards are actually door wood and are showing some signs of wear but all in all, they look pretty stout. Unlike many vehicles of this era, the instrument panel, owing to its truck origins, is minimalist in design – strictly business.

The most spectacular part of the interior, however, is this headliner – which is really the roof. It is a carpenter’s work of art and I cannot imagine how much time it must have taken to construct.  It is simply beautiful.

When it comes to woodies this one is a bit more unique than the Fords, Pontiacs, Buicks and Chryslers that I have stumbled across – it’s not a brand one would immediately associate with a wood-clad station wagon and perhaps that is due to its truck platform origins. The asking price is about the same amount that it was listed for back in 2015; not certain what the going market value for this International KB-1 would be as they don’t turn up for sale too often. This is a great looking station wagon, in top-drawer condition, but I don’t know how or where I would use it. How about you, something of interest or too obscure?

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  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    Wow! This would be so welcome at my place. Nothing like a good ol’ woodie to run around in. This thing wouldn’t be much of a speed demon. It would probably do 50 and that’s just fine because the wind noise beyond that would drive you crazy. I wouldn’t do anything other than fix what’s wrong with the fuel supply and drive it. Just keep it clean and polished up. It would be the only one at the car show, if that’s what you wanted to do with it. Now, where did I leave those lottery tickets?

  2. Howard A Member

    Those of you who question the resourcefulness of a cheesehead, in your face. Couple zip ties and some chicken wire makes a dandy gas can holder. Kind of silly, 4 and a half years, come on, it’s not that hard to do a tank replacement. Any tank in the back where it belongs. There’s the questioning, I suppose. Lucky this thing didn’t burn to the ground. Great find, again, 82.9 hp( it’s that .9 that gets you over the hill) in a heavy vehicle, be a slow ride to the top. Being such a unique vehicle, a shame not to be able to use it, and by using it, I mean driving on today’s roads. I think the flattie could benefit from an O/D, they had tons of torque, just at 55 without O/D, there’s nothing left. Such beautiful cars.

    • Mountainwoodie

      Very weird that the tank hasn’t been sorted out five years later. Come on people!

      A number of Internationals show up at Wavecrest every year. But……… they are all truck……and very utilitarian. Absolutely needs an O/D………….ask me how I know :)

      No don’t. You already know yourselves as the eminent grise of BP, HoA referenced above.

      Still would be a fun project. A Woodie is good for the soul.

  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    Within one week two cars that I didn’t even know existed. Familiar with the International trucks (they make great street rods) but this guy is completely new to my eye strobes. Great piece!

  4. canadainmarkseh Member

    I’m going to make a suggestion that might not be liked. I think a 4 cyl cumins diesel would liven this truck up with a 5 speed behind it.

  5. Beemoe

    Minor point here… the K series started in 1940, then the KB after the war. The primary recognizable difference being chrome grill strips.

    These are beautiful trucks.

  6. Barry Traylor

    Pretty sure that under hood gas tank would not pass inspection where I live.

  7. Harit Trivedi

    I have a 1948 International Woody KB2 just freshly restored in India. Color scheme is identical. There are differences to 1949, my woody appears to be very similar in size though this is a KB1. Mine is missing some trim but mechanical’s are original. Very nice.

  8. Francisco

    If I bought this I would have to: buy a surfboard, move to LaJolla, learn how to surf, lose about 75 pounds, and knock about 50 years off my age. The chicks will come running back!

  9. Lance G Nord

    In 2014, a 1941 International Woodie sold for $100K at Mecum. A 1954 R140 4×4 Woodie sold at Mecum in 2013 for $144K. This one isn’t nearly as pristine as those two vehicles, but it’s certainly a sweet rig.

  10. Arby

    If I were a carpenter….

  11. Douglas Brooks

    Not a personal attack on the author, but that International reflects very straightforward woodwork in the coach work. I am a boatbuilder and years ago I was commissioned to build a wooden body for a 1932 Chevy depot hack. I studied the body work of a similar vintage Ford and it was far more complex than what International was using in this woodie wagon. If you look closely every part of that body is just flat stock material sawn to the curve. Often 50s woodies show very nicely shaped timbers with compound curves.

    And I am not putting down good old IHC because I own a 1947 KB-2 pickup. Mine has the same 214 Green Diamond engine but a four-speed. It will very comfortably go 50 mph and 60-65 if I want to. Someone mentioned wind noise and the amazing thing about my truck is when you roll down the window at speed there is NO noise. I think its the aerodynamic shape. I also get 20 mpg fully loaded or empty. I’ve had her now for almost 35 years. Great truck.

    • Lou Rugani

      I’m thinking that those tires are incorrect, perhaps a tad too small, and that a step up in size would fill the wheel wells more to scale.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      The woodwork is far less glamorous and/or sexy than a similar Ford, GM or Chrysler woody from the same era. Granted, this is a truck with a wood body. Just look at the clumsy way the rear pillar curves up into the room and the bulging tailgate….Still, how many others of this KB will you ever find at Hershey and certainly not at your local Cars and Coffee. Good luck to the new owner.

  12. Andy

    What am I missing? The guy is asking nearly 50 grand and he won’t spring for a new fuel system?! There’s something totally outa whack here.

    • BobMck Member

      I’m with you Andy. If anyone wants $50K for a car, it better be drivable. Potential buyers will beat him on the price.

  13. Chip Lamb

    That is a Campbell body, I have the same one on my ’49 Dodge B1B.

  14. Richard

    Gorgeous car for sure!

  15. Fred Alexander

    I want – – –

  16. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Yep – manufacture Cantrail up North built on just about every truck chassis Dodge – Studebaker and others like this one.

  17. John

    I would like to put a old skool hemi in it

  18. Jimmy Novak

    I restored a ’37 International hot rod to factory-correct. I sold off the V8, scrapped the mags, fixed the springs, and took Second Place to a ’58 Impala convertible.


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