Ford began making the Sportsman wood-bodied convertibles in 1946, some of the first new American vehicles after production had stopped for World War II.
The vehicle in What Is It? went up for auction in June, when the property of Michael Dingman, a former Ford Motor Co. director, was sold in Hampton, N.H. The restored vehicle went for $253,000.
We asked for the year, make and model but acknowledged that it might be tricky so we offered to accept your best estimates. We picked a winner from those who identified it as the convertible but are printing all the entries that were close because all of your discussion was enlightening.
Chosen randomly from the correct entries was Joe Arp, of Watkinsville, Ga., who wrote: “The What Is It? is a beautiful 1947 Ford Sportsman woodie convertible.”
He wins a prize from The Augusta Chronicle. Also identifying the vehicle were:
AUGUSTA: J.S. Sharp said: “1947 Ford convertible with wooden sides.”
Clarence Savage said: “1948 Ford station wagon.”
Carolyn Ogles wrote: “Ford Super DeLuxe station wagon 1948. Wagons were originally used to transport passengers and considered work vehicles; then the ‘woodies’ became a status symbol, having a high level of craftsmanship.
“Ford grew wood in their own forest and mills in northern Michigan. The wood was maple, ash and basswood. In 1948, fewer than 9,000 wood-bodied models were produced, and production was halted at Iron Mountain as the company was switching to using more steel in the bodies for 1949.”
Jim Price said: “1947 Ford DeLuxe woodside station wagon.” He pointed out that the 1947 Super DeLuxe’s parking lights were different from the 1946 originals.
Walker Mobley Jr. wrote: “The photo is of a 1947 or 1948 Ford station wagon (woodie) or a Sportsman convertible, (also wooden construction to some degree). It’s hard to tell from my copy which it is. The only difference that I know about between the’47 and ’48 was the ’47 had a locking steering system and the ’48 did not. There may be other differences in the side trim, hubcaps, grille insert colors and other features.
“I didn’t mean to get carried away with this, but I had two of these in my past. Very pleasant memories.”
John Hayes wrote: “I think the auto is a 1947 Ford DeLuxe ‘woodie’ wagon.”
CANTON, GA.: David Anderson wrote: “Built for only three model years, 1946-48, this example appears to be a 1947 model because of the round turn signal lights below the headlights, rather than the small rectangular lights mounted on the front of the hood on the introductory 1946 model.
“The Sportsman is the first wood-bodied convertible and was originally conceived at the request of Henry Ford II both as a special car for Ford executives and as a way for dealers to attract buyers into the showrooms. The wood came from Ford’s own forests and in fact the initial prototype was built with war surplus wood that was originally destined to build gliders.
“With a total production run of a little more than 3,000 cars, the Sportsman was never intended to be a full-on production car. It was and has continued to be a car that evokes a certain amount of exclusivity. Power windows were even available as an accessory when this car was new, and that’s an option that even some Cadillacs and Lincolns of the day did not have.”
COLUMBIA COUNTY: Harold B. Hoover identified the car as a 1946 Ford woodie and wrote: “This looks exactly like the car I owned in 1952.”
EVANS: Jim Williamson said it was the 1948 Ford Super DeLuxe station wagon.
Wayne Wilke identified the car as the 1948 Ford woodie station wagon and wrote: “The small circular light under the headlight distinguishes the 1948 from the earlier ’46 and ’47 models. The uptick in demand among classic car collectors for woodie station wagons has driven the price for high-end restored ones well into six figures.”
Jerry Paul wrote: “This time I am 100 percent certain that the car of the week is a 1948 Ford woodie wagon.”
Larry Heath said it was a 1947 Ford convertible with the wood side panels, and wrote: “Wood was used because of a short supply of steel at the time. It could be a 1948, the antenna was moved to the location shown during 1947. The parking lights were also moved to the location shown in 1947. In 1949 a completely new style was used.
“These cars had either an inline six or a flathead V-8. Back in the ’70s I owned a 1948 Ford two-door, the slope-back style rather than the coupe. After four years I lost interest in it and sold it to make room for other projects.”
Bill Harding said 1947 Ford and sent along a photo of that year’s woodie wagon.
FRANKLIN, N.C.: Dale Sanford wrote: “The auto is the 1948 Ford Super DeLuxe woodie. This was the last year that the vehicles were made with real wood. After this, there have been many vehicles that have simulated wood on their sides, including the 1985 Plymouth Voyager that I used to own. I believe the price of the 1948 woodie was $1,972, which was a bargain compared to the one for $119,900 listed for sale by the St. Louis Auto Museum.”
HEPHZIBAH: Leo Bennett said it was a 1942 Ford DeLuxe station wagon.
KEYSVILLE, GA.: Glenn Widner said it was a 1948 Ford Super DeLuxe woodie wagon: “If it was a V-8, it was a flathead 239-cubic-incher with 100 horsepower. Ford used its own homegrown northern Michigan ash for wood. The ’47 and ’48 were very similar.”
LOUISVILLE, GA.: Patricia Holbert wrote: “It is a 1947 Ford Super DeLuxe woodie. It came with either a straight-line six-cylinder engine or a flathead V-8. The trim was real wood, thus the name. In the 1950s and 1960s they were popular with California surfers because the cargo areas would hold their surfboards (only a foot or so would extend through the back).”
MARTINEZ: Jim Muraski wrote: “This week’s car is a 19471/2 or 1948 Ford Super DeLuxe Sportsman (woodie) convertible. The midyear introduction featured some minor styling changes for this model originally introduced in 1941. These included repositioned parking lights, a new grille design and center hood medallion. Only 2,250 of these woodie convertibles were produced this year.”
Patrick Pyle said it was a 1947-48 Ford woodie wagon.
Frank Jenkins identified it as a 1946 Ford panel truck.
Larry Williams said the Ford woodie is either a 1947 or 1948, adding: “Both years were identical except for ignition switch. 1947 had a thumb switch like earlier model Fords; 1948 had a new key switch that was standard from then on.”
Jeff James Miller identified it as a 1946-48 Ford woodie and wrote: “The parking light below the headlight and the cowl mounted antenna seem to indicate this is a later model – ’47 or ’48. The leading edge of that black roof line looks deceivingly thick – is this particular woodie a convertible?”
Frankie Jenkins said it was a 1948 Ford panel truck.
PERRY, FLA.: Larry Anderson wrote: “This week looks like a ’47 Ford Special DeLuxe woodie station wagon. The Plymouth and Ford woodies looked close to the same around those years, but the Ford offered a V-8 (flathead), where the Plymouth came with a flathead six.
“Of course, all the woodies are popular with the surfing bunch in California. They were made famous in the Jan and Dean song Surf City.”
TRENTON, S.C.: Charlie Williams said it was a 1947 Ford station wagon.