The cultural impact of woodie wagons is little mentioned. But this custom Envy example shows why they were loved.
Once upon a time, wood was the sign of a premium exterior as well as interior of a car. Station wagons often had this wooden look, and proved popular in the 1950s and ‘60s. They had a surprising aftermarket appeal, with many of the Californian surfing community taking the old wagons and matching high powered and noisy engines to their more traditionalist wooden exteriors.
Small-block Chevrolet V8s were often the choice engines for restomodders, but it was the body first introduced by Ford in 1949 that everybody wanted. The half-timbered look, with side and tailgate wood that was entirely structural, is a design that still stands out to this day. It has a skeleton steel framework and one-piece top, with the streamlined shape making it easy to lob surf boards on top.
As well as being automotive icons of their time, they’re also important cultural totems, and hence do not sell cheap. RM Sotheby’s is selling one custom Envy example at its Arizona event on January 17, and it’s estimated to attract $80,000 - $100,000 (£62,750 – £78,500).
It’s been chopped 2.5 inches, has raked B-pillars and taillights borrowed from a Cadillac. At the front of the car, custom Ford grilles and bumpers have been used, and it has side mirrors that have been fashioned from bumper guards. Although the Arrowhead wheels are the same size on all four corners, the rear tyres are an inch larger than the pair at the front.
The use of wood is of high quality, with smooth hardrock maple with birds-eye inserts. The seafaring Green Pearl paint is a custom PPG mix that also covers the engine bay, and contrasts with the leather, ostrich and suede interior. A Budnik banjo steering wheel dominates the dash, with a mix of analogue and digital instruments and a green neon halo-lit headliner.
Powering the vehicle is a 5.7-litre LT1 Corvette engine, a beast of a unit, mated to a 700R4 Hydra-Matic transmission, nine inch Ford rear and custom 2.5 inch exhaust. The front suspension is of an independent geometry and put together with a Mustang II rack-and-pinion. Slam your foot down on the brake pedal and you’ll have the full force of four 11-inch disc brakes.
Buy this car and you should look and drive like a cool customer, and probably be the Envy of anyone else you encounter on the roads.