On June 20th, 1991, the last woodie in regular production rolled off the assembly line. It was a Jeep Grand Wagoneer, and like other woodies before, it had side panels made with laminate that resembled the actual wood panels common in midcentury American cars. The woodie took off in the late 1960s and finally fizzled out in the late 1980s. Take a walk down memory lane with some unexpected cars that received this iconic treatment throughout American history.
1973-1980 Chevrolet Blazer/GMC Jimmy
This small SUV was named “Jimmy” after the phonetic spelling of the brand “GM.” It originally came with a removable roof, making it a convertible whenever the mood might strike. The Jimmy was technically a short wheelbase truck and came in either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. GMC stopped making the faux wood paneling available for the Jimmy after 1980. In 1991, the last Jimmy was produced and replaced by the GMC Yukon.
1976-1980 Ford Pinto
Rated by CBS News as the World’s Ugliest Car, the Ford Pinto was also known to sport the faux wood paneling starting in 1976. In addition to being homely, this car was also notorious for exploding when being hit from the rear due to a defective fuel system. Everyone accused Ford of putting consumers in danger to save a few bucks. It is no wonder that this model car only lasted a short nine years from 1971 to 1980.
2002-2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser
Though not produced in the heyday of woodie wagons, Chrysler took advantage of the PT Cruiser’s retro look and added faux wood paneling. Consumers could purchase this “Woodie” model of the hatchback from 2002-2004 for an extra $895. According to an article written by the New York Times, Chrysler sold nearly 145,000 PT Cruisers at the model’s peak in 2001. Even after Chrysler added a turbo-charged engine to some models and a convertible model in 2005, the last PT Cruiser was produced in July of 2010 after low sales.
1970-1991 Jeep Wagoneer
The list would not be complete without the most well-known woodie, the Jeep Wagoneer. This car didn’t just use wood grain as an accent; the whole side of this SUV is decked out with the faux wood feature. Not only that, but the Wagoneer came with shag carpet, leather and corduroy bucket seats, and power everything. This SUV was widely recognized as the first luxury SUV. The original Jeep Wagoneer was introduced in 1963 but didn’t become the “woodie” until 1970. Though production ended in 1991, Jeep is planning to re-release the iconic SUV in 2018 or 2019. Though the look and aesthetics are still speculations at this point, fans of the original are hoping for a wood-grain comeback.
The woodie trend that started in the late 1960s and lasted through the 1970s is still lingering today. The future will tell whether or not this unique design will ever truly be revived.