What’s the matter with the car I’m driving? / Can’t you tell that it’s out of style? / Should I get a set of whitewall tires? / Are you gonna cruise the Miracle Mile?
Billy Joel summed it up pretty well in his hit 1980 song “It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me.” Automotive trends evolve just like fashion trends. And whether it’s whitewall tires, window louvers or body kits, the automobile has always been a means of individual expression.
Wood paneling, like so many other aesthetic enhancements, has pretty much phased out. But 70 years ago, Chrysler was wild about wood.
Wooden bodies and wood accents have been around since the dawn of the automobile. Early cars were horseless carriages after all. But toward the middle of the 20th Century, wood paneling had evolved into a stylistic enhancement rather than a means of construction. And thus was born the “woody.” California’s surfing community will forever be associated with woody wagons.
This Chrysler Town & Country is powered by an inline-8 engine paired with a three-speed fluid-drive automatic transmission, a rare configuration, according to the seller, with only 698 built. The seller calls the vehicle “semi-restored,” and goes on to describe the condition of the 76,000-mile woody.
“This fine example features original wood panels and original engine, rebuilt,” the seller says in the ad. “The paint shows very well, the interior is new and period correct, it drives smooth and the engine purrs like a kitten.”
The seller’s photo gallery conveys how well the Chrysler shows for being 71 years old, right down to the generous chrome trim, dual spotlights and hood ornament. The doors, rear quarters and trunk lid are all trimmed in a combination of chrome and wood that works well with the brown paint scheme.
The Town & Country model was launched in 1941 and went on to be offered in a variety of body styles: station wagon, 4-door sedan, 2-door hardtop and convertible. Much later, the name was applied to a rebadged version of the Dodge Caravan minivan. And indeed, the Town & Country minivan could be had with faux wood paneling; by that time, real wood had been replaced by woodgrain applique.
A handful of vehicles as recently as the 1990s, such as the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and a limited-edition Chrysler PT Cruiser, briefly brought woodgrain trim back to life. But it’s been a couple of decades since wood was used in exterior applications on production vehicles. Today’s use of wood is primarily limited to interior trim in the luxury-car segment.
The seller is asking $28,000 for this wood-trimmed hardtop. Oh, and it also has those whitewall tires Billy Joel was talking about.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.