The Surfer's Woody


San Bernardino, United States

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Canon D40. Photographed at a car show in Riverside, California, USA and manipulated to produce this image. Two layers used. Edited with PSE, Topaz an Smart Photo Editor.

“The Woody” was the first car linked specifically to surfing, and to many it is still the quintessential wave wagon. Built in the ’30s and ’40s by companies such as Chevy, Ford, Buick, Oldsmobile — and since extinct DeSoto, Packard, Hudson and Willys-Overland — the ornate cars were crafted of shiny wood (typically ash or oak). They made righteous surf mobiles, plenty roomy for the tank-ish longboards of the days and ample backseatage for some post-hang-ten nookie. Oddly enough, the cars hit their popularity heyday well after most companies stopped producing the model. The post-war economy mandated cheaper materials, hence the switch to steel, fiberglass and the dreaded faux “wood panel.” Into the early ’60s, the woody was still the auto for wave/babe hunters from San Diego to Santa Cruz. Today, woody owners, many of them old-school surfers, gather at weekend rallies, on showroom floors and online.

The Beach Boys purchased a 1940 Woody from a gentleman who was representing the owner’s family. The car had a very interesting past. In 1983, US Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, decided to ban rock music at the traditional July 4th concert at the Washington Monument, saying it would bring in ‘the wrong element’(4/83). It was an indirect slap at the Beach Boys, who were scheduled to perform as they always had in the past. The Beach Boys in turn moved their 4th of July Concert to Atlantic City, New Jersy. The woody was used as a prop for the concert. As a “THANK YOU”, four out of the six Beach Boys signed & dated the back tailgate and rear left panel of the car. Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston & Carl Wilson. Brian Wilson and Dennis Wilson were not available for the signing. Later that year, hard-living Dennis Wilson drowned while swimming off the California coast. Carl Wilson later died in Febuary of 1998. This concert was a last that the original Beach Boys all played together.

(Information collected from two Internet sites. One is Sorry I can’t find the other one.)

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