In 2002 he ran ads on eBay that he was looking for wooden wagons. Every once in a while a Woody station wagon would pop up. After seeing several ads he decided to look into possibly purchasing a Woody wagon.
A man in Marblehead, Mass., had this 1947 Plymouth Special Deluxe Woody wagon for sale. The owner described the car as non-running but in overall nice, original condition.
Robert traveled to Marblehead to see the car. The engine was locked up, but the body was nice. A few pieces of the wood needed repair or replacement. The interior was in very good original condition.
Few Woody wagons exist today. In 1947 this wagon cost about $2,000, while a Plymouth coupe only cost about $1,000.
Therefore, usually only the wealthy bought the Woodys, and the owners probably had a garage to protect them. Most were probably traded off for new cars within five years or so. The folks buying the used cars may have not had a garage to protect the wooden bodies, which would soon rot away.
Robert made a deal to buy the old Woody and had it shipped back to Indianapolis. He removed the original 218- cubic-inch flathead six-cylinder engine and had it rebuilt. He sent a few pieces of the wood to Cincinnati Woodworks, where Chip Kuzmaul repaired one piece and made a new one. Robert refinished the rest of the wooden body and soon had the car on the road.
He and his wife, Wanda, have driven it about 25,000 miles since 2002. They have driven to Mount Rushmore, the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the four corners of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. They have also driven it on roads in the Colorado mountains and across the continental divide.
Later this summer they will take the old Plymouth to Fort Royal, Mich., for the Plymouth Owners Club National Meet. Robert noted that he has only seen four or five 1947 Plymouth Special Deluxe wagons in the past 12 years.
Robert said he believes that his wife enjoys traveling in the car more than he does because he is the one who has to worry about whether or not the old cruiser will make it home!
He is working on a 1940 Chrysler three-speed transmission that is equipped with overdrive, which will allow the engine to operate at a lower rpm at highway speeds while improving the drivability a little more, once it is installed.
When I met Robert and Wanda, they and their family, son Brian, daughter-in-law Jane and grandchildren Seth and Tristen were enjoying a picnic out of the back of the Woody, just as they might have if it were the 1940s or 1950s
Until next week, keep on cruising!