Our 6 favorite woody wagons at Worldwide’s 2021 Scottsdale sale
The more auctions that are rescheduled, relocated, or held online, the more we continue to be impressed at the quality of vehicles available. Case in point: the selection of woody wagons on offer through Worldwide Auctioneers at its 2021 Scottsdale sale (which is actually held at the auction house’s headquarters in Auburn, Indiana). On Saturday, January 23, you’ll have slew of remarkable wood-paneled wagons to choose from; many wear beautiful restorations performed by woody expert Nick Alexander of Los Angeles, California, and each one is rare. Two are unique. We picked our six favorites to help you narrow things down—or simply fuel your window shopping.
We take for granted that most family-toting vehicles are available from the factory in an all-wheel-drive variant, but back in the late 1930s and ’40s, you could only get an all-wheel-drive station wagon via special order—and by paying a hefty premium. Indiana-based Marmon-Herrington converted Ford and Mercury wagons to off-road spec by hand, taking delivery of standard-issue wagons and handing the beefed-up trucks back to Ford to be sold through the OEM’s dealer network. The 4×4 conversion process was roughly equal to the sticker price of the vehicle.
In part because of the eye-watering cost, Marmon-Herrington wagons weren’t overwhelmingly popular in their day. Most orders came from the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army, and a handful of outdoorsy civilians. After 1948, the year in which production resumed following WWII, Marmon-Herrington stopped converting the woody wagons.
Worldwide reports that this 1947 example is one of only six Marmon-Herrington conversions surviving today, one of three Mercurys to receive the conversion, and the only one from ’47. As befitting its rarity, the ’47 woody received a painstaking frame-off restoration. Equipped with a 239-cubic-inch V-8, a four-speed manual, and hydraulic drum brakes, the Parrot Green wagon boasts a pristine, factory-correct interior finished with genuine leather—and, of course, a gorgeous expanse of varnished maple and mahogany.
Though both Ford and Mercury wagons were eligible for the Marmon-Herrington 4×4 conversions, Mercury’s offerings were distinguished by being slightly up-market of Ford’s—even if you chose a two-wheel-drive model. This woody station wagon was the most expensive Mercury you could buy in 1942; it stickered at $1425 (about $22,500 today, which in hindsight seems like a bargain). You paid for more interior room (the Mercury’s wheelbase was 4 inches longer than the Ford’s), more power (5 hp, to be exact), and more luxurious amenities. Even so, most of the 783 Mercury woody wagons produced in ’42 were pressed into military service. Only six exist today.
This Moselle Maroon example wears a top-notch restoration, down to the correct woodgrain for the dash and a new fabric top dyed to match the exterior paint. (We’re particularly a fan of the maroon/maple combo here.) Under the hood sits a 239-cubic-inch V-8 mated to a three-speed transmission with a column-mounted shifter. The only period-incorrect item is the battery.
No, “estate wagon” isn’t a highfalutin’ 1930s marketing term. This ’34 Ford is actually a one-off commissioned by an East Coast business tycoon of Scottish descent who needed a vehicle big enough to schlep his guests around his giant estate on the Potomac River (which he named Strathglass, after his father’s hometown in Scotland, Strathglass Carries). Even if his guests didn’t crave woodland views, Hugh Chisolm couldn’t possibly deny them the chance to be chauffeured to the riverfront, where they could ride his 243-foot yacht Aras.
Among those Chisolm entertained on his yacht were U.S. presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S Truman; and it’s reasonable to assume that they were transported from the Chisholm home to the dock on the leather benches of this solid-oak wagon. Worldwide notes that the custom build appears to include a custom tailgate ramp, necessary to accommodate a wheelchair—potentially, F.D.R.’s?
The coachbuilt Ford’s powertrain was upgraded in-period from a 75-hp flathead V-8 to a ’46 Ford 59AB V-8 with 100 hp. The oak woodwork has been restored, although the wagon wears its original coat of paint, and the driveline is in fine fettle thanks to regular exercise given it by the consignor. The last time we saw this fascinating Ford was in 2012, when it was bid to $70,000 at Worldwide’s sale in Auburn.
The Monarch marque may be unfamiliar to many—but not if you’re Canadian. Under the skin, these station wagons were essentially Canadian-built Mercurys. The details, however—trim, grille, taillights, and hood ornament—distinguish Monarchs as Canada-specific vehicles. Monarch eventually offered four different models in the Great White North between 1946 and ’57, and the gleaming two-door 1950 woody wagon you see here is the rarest of the set, with only 43 produced that year. Today, it’s one of three known to survive.
This example has spent most of its life in its Canadian homeland. It wears a slightly older 1999 restoration, but the attention and effort invested shows in its gleaming maple and mahogany panels, plus its Canada-only Metallic Maywood Green paint. Our favorite detail? Those fabulous whitewall tires.
The 9CM Station Wagon was initially intended to be a Ford model, but Ford decided to promote it to the more posh Mercury brand for the 1948 model year. The wheelbase grew in both length and width, and the wagon got a new front grille to differentiate it from its Blue Oval brethren. The 9CM might not be as utilitarian as the Marmon-Herrington-converted wagons, but it still boasted thoughtful features; if you needed to haul a couch home from the store, and had to lower the tailgate, the taillamps swung to face backwards and alert nearby drivers if you hit the brakes.
Though this isn’t a true wood-bodied woody—its frame is steel, and the wood is electro-bonded to the metal—the 9CM received a meticulous frame-off restoration. From the faux woodgrain dash to the 255-cubic-inch engine, this is a factory-correct beauty.
If you’re a Michigan native, this model may be of particular interest. It was built in Ford’s Iron Mountain plant using basswood, birch, and maple harvested from the Upper Peninsula. Since these four-door wagons were used for hauling cargo, flawless examples like this one are rare. This wagon retains its original 85-hp, 221-cu-in V-8, a feature that makes it even more desirable.
As you may have expected from the other concours-quality woodies on this list, this Vineyard Green Model 40 has been thoroughly restored. Worldwide notes that all door panels are flush and all hinges are straight; even the back tailgate opens and shuts easily. All that excellence could produce a final result that crests six figures—a #1-condition (Concours) example carries a value of $116,000 (and this is the only example of the six that we currently track in the Hagerty Price Guide).