Woodie cars dazzle at annual show

Sep 20, 2021

The sun gleamed off of carefully varnished wood on Sunday as car aficionados and curious visitors admired 17 vehicles crafted from wood. 

The Woodies on the Green in Cranberry Country show has been held at A.D. Makepeace in mid-September since 2016, with the exception of 2020, when the show was cancelled due to covid.

The antique vehicles, some of which were outfitted with nostalgic decorations like a picnic basket in the open trunk, were carefully maintained.  

“Woody wagon owners take care of their cars,” said Kris Larsen of Plymouth. 

Larsen had a collection of antique cars, and added his 1939 Chevrolet Woody to the collection in 1983.

Like many woodies, Larsen’s car is custom, with extra height on the doors. Larsen explained that many woodies were sold as a sort of kit with a chassis and frame. Owners would then hire someone to build the rest of the car from wood, and could tweak the design to their needs and preferences. Larsen’s car was built for a New York City doctor by Cantrell, a prolific wood car builder from Tarrytown, NY. 

Bob Nelson said he makes a point of letting kids explore his car. 

“These kids are the future of our hobby,” Nelson said.

Nelson has come to the Wareham show since its start in 2016, driving all the way from Glen Cove, NY. There, he’s part of the Old Bastards Woodie Club, which he said has three qualifications its members must meet.

Sonny Perkins, the president of the Yankee Wood Chapter of the National Woodie Club, said Woodies were manufactured between the 1920s and the late 1950s. Since then, they’ve only gained in value: While one could buy a Woodie for $300 in the 1960s, the vehicles now cost between $30,000 and $500,000.

“There’s a story to every car,” Perkins said: How the car was manufactured, rebuilt, or how it has been passed down through a family. 

And every Woodie has a name — Perkins’ car is named Gertrude.

“The most fun about the whole thing is there’s a group of us now who see each other at all the shows,” Perkins, who lives in York, ME, said. “We’ve become close friends.”

David Buckman of Plymouth helps to organize the show each year. He purchased his woodie, a Buick, in 1989. A custom picture framer by trade, Buckman said he chose a woodie because it felt reflective of who he is.

When he first got his car, it couldn’t drive faster than 30 miles per hour. After five years of restoration, he took it on a roadtrip to an Atlanta, Georgia, suburb for Buick National Week. 

He joined the National Woodie Club shortly after buying his Buick, and later joined the New England chapter. 

When the man who had been running a yearly Woody show on the Cape was no longer able to do so, Buckman decided to take up the mantle. A.D. Makepeace’s space, where he has held the show since 2016, was the perfect venue, he said. 

“It’s been a terrific, terrific relationship with the A.D. Makepeace Company,” Buckman said. 

Although winners are chosen each year at the show, Buckman said the owners never come with the intention of trying to out-do one another.

“We have a camaraderie that is exemplary,” Buckman said.

This year, Bob Stevens of Latham, NY, won first place for his 1951 Ford. Steve Smith came in second with his 1927 Buick, and John Irving came in third for his 1934 Ford, which has been owned by his family since it was built. 

“John was probably born in this car,” Buckman joked, while presenting Irving with his award. 

The Woodie show will return next year.