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The development of the station wagon from bare-bones depot hack to SUV has been a circuitous one. The ‘30s and ‘40s saw the truly wagon-like wooden bodies of the ‘20s become a lot more civilized, with roll-up windows and other creature comforts that would permit wagons to drive a lot like steel-bodied sedans while also allowing extra room inside for additional passengers or cargo. The upright seating of the era’s car bodies and the somewhat truck-like nature of chassis technology back then, plus the added luxury of this being a Chevrolet passenger car rather than a truck, means that a 1947 Fleetmaster wagon like this one listed for sale is far more evocative of today’s Chevrolet Suburban than an actual 1947 Suburban would be.
Not only does the woodie boast four doors, rather than just two on the Suburban, but it’s designed to haul civilian passengers in relative comfort, rather than work crews in need of the most durable and utilitarian accommodations possible. The column-shifted three-speed manual transmission (with an NOS vacuum-assist unit, the seller notes) and independent front suspension are also far more user-friendly than the equivalent floor-shift gearbox and straight axle on the Suburban. The Suburban also would have hosted steeper gears from the factory.
Inside the woodie, it’s all varnish and vinyl, evoking the era’s wooden yachts and speedboats. Underneath, things are basic ‘40s bomb-proof Chevrolet: A 216 “Stovebolt” straight-six, the aforementioned three-speed, and a torque-tube rear end hung from leaf springs. The knee-action IFS is kingpin-based and thus theoretically obsolete, but still well supported and fully capable.
Some folks would immediately cover this one in travel stickers and stick a surfboard in back, but I say get those Firestone black-wall bias plies shaved into perfect roundness and drive this thing all the time. Let it tell you what its personality is in that process. From the seller's description:
Beautifully Restored Classic Woodie Wagon includes: Original 6-Cylinder Engine (Rebuilt), Original 3-Speed Column Shift Transmission (w/NOS Vac Assist), Original 3 Interior Seats (Re-upholstered by Hampton Coach), Restored Wood-Grained Dash by Bennie Estes (Renowned Craftsman), Restored Interior Panels and Vinyl Top by Hampton Coach, Nitrocellulose Lacquer Paint in Maple Brown, Triple Chrome Plating, Interior and Exterior Woodwork Completely Restored, Original Body Built by Custom Coach Builders (They were the builders of Private Railroad Cars), 4 Firestone Tires (Correct Type for Car) Mounted on Original Rims, Original Steering Wheel, Original Deluxe Heater, Original AM Radio, and Original Wind-up Clock. Also includes Custom Beverly Hills Car Cover, and an additional set of wide White-Wall Tires on 6-Lug Rims
The 1947 Chevy Woodie Wagon was the most expensive and least popular model for Chevy that year. They built a total of 4,912 of them, making them a rare and desirable find! Woodie Wagons were originally used by resorts to transport guests to and from railroad depots, giving them the nicknames, 'depot hacks' and 'station wagons.' They were also a favorite car of the wealthy, who at that time used them on their large rural estates. The Woody era was over by the mid-1950's. By the early 1960's, surfers began buying up the old Woodie Wagons as they were a perfect fit for long boards and surfer buddies.

1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster woodie station wagon


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