Saturday, December 3, 2011

Woody's Cars, Through The Years

I became really interested in custom cars and hot rods by
1958, the year I bought my first Custom Cars magazine.
Around that time, I started seeing a particular car that
caught my attention as I walked down 129th Street,
in my neighborhood of Richmond Hill (borough of Queens,
New York). It was a '49 Mercury coupe, always parked in
front of the same house. Every time I saw it, however, it
had new and different modifications done to it but I never
saw anyone working on it.

One day, I finally lucked out and met the guy who
was customizing the car: Paul Wood.
It seems he was in the Navy but married to a girl
(Carol) who lived in the nearby house with her parents.
He only worked on the car while he was home on leave
and, because I was still in high school,
I kept missing him... until that day. 

We eventually became close friends and Woody
(as he was called) helped me with some projects
on my own car after he got out of the Navy
and lived with Carol in the area.
Back in the 1950s, I had created a photo album
featuring pictures of many of my friends cars so Woody
gave me some of his old photos seen now on this blog.

(Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

Woody's first car was a '41 Chevy coupe which he mildly
customized with a partial dechroming, adding fender
skirts and a two tone black and red paint job.
The engine was a modified 6-cylinder.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

Next came a '50 Chevy convertible
which was basically stock.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection;
photo restored by Ken.)

The '49 Merc Woody owned when I met him is seen
here outside a motel in New Jersey, while
Woody and Carol were on their honeymoon.
Although no other photos of the car exist – and
some modifications can't be seen here – the
car had extensive work done to it.
The headlights were tunneled, hood and deck
were shaved, the outside door handles were
removed and replaced by electric solenoids,
cruiser skirts were installed, and the car lowered.
The most impressive thing was that the coupe
was made into a hardtop by removing the
vertical posts on the doors and in front of the
rear side windows, and new glass cut to fit. 

A '51 Cadillac engine and 4-speed automatic transmission
were installed in place of the old flathead Merc.
The Caddy mill ran with trips or dual-quads at various times.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

Woody's next project involved this '53 Ford convertible.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

The headlights were tunneled, scoops were moulded
into the rear quarter panels, skirts were added,
and the usual dechroming performed and doors shaved.
The rear fenders were extended and flanked the
Continental kit in the rear. A Carson top was
installed and the hood had louvers punched into it.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

Back in the day, Woody had no garage and often
worked on the car in the street; this was shot on
116th Street, just north of Liberty Avenue,
in Richmond Hill, around 1961.
Mutual friend Sal Consiglio (standing) and Woody.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

A 1955 Buick engine was installed (sorry, but no photo).
The hood was pancaked and Woody revamped the
front end by added canted quad headlights flowing
into a new grille cavity over a rolled front splash pan.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

After I got married, Woody and I lost contact with each
other for about 10 or 15 years before getting back in
touch again. By that time, he and Carol were living
in Farmingville, (Suffolk County, Long Island) and
Woody was still building cars in his shop at their home.
The '33 Ford Pick-up (above) was his
"every day run-around" vehicle.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

The channeled body featured full-fenders.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

Under the hood was a 350 Chevy with a B+M air-induction
mini-blower, and a 350 Turbo-Hydramatic transmission.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

Woody's show-car was this beautiful chopped
and channelled '32 Ford 3-window coupe.
As with all of his cars, Woody performed all
his own body, interior, and mechanical modifications;
all cars seen here were original steel
production models – not fiberglass reproductions!

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

The engine was a Chevy 383 cubic-inch stroker
with a B+M 671 Blower at one point;
transmission was a beefed-up 350 Turbo-Hydro.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

The idea behind Woody's '39 Ford coupe was
to build a one-of-a-kind car that was also dependable
enough to take on a road trip and fairly easy
to repair, if necessary, during the trip.

Woody started by taking a 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo
chassis and drive train. He then grafted the
center section of the Ford chassis to the
front and rear sections of the Monte Carlo chassis.
The top was chopped two inches and extended
six inches to provide more room in the back seat area.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Note the louvered hood and frenched headlight treatment.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

The custom grille was fabricated by Woody's son, Michael,
using 3/8-inch stainless steel
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Once again, Woody created a hardtop out of a coupe
by removing the door and rear window pillars;
custom-made skirts were added.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

The radio antenna was mounted in a recessed cavity by the rear deck.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Ever-popular '59 Caddy tail-light lenses were
tunnelled into the rear fenders. Of course,
all fender seams were filled and front and rear pans rolled.
Note the notches in the rear pan for the dual exhausts. 
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

By utilizing the stock Monte Carlo 350 engine and driveline,
Woody was assured that parts to service the car
would be easy to obtain if needed during a road trip.
Likewise, the standard driveline and running gear,
including power-disc brakes, provided fine handling
and stopping power, while also being easy
to service with readily-available parts.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Perhaps the only impractical aspect of the car
was its extremely low ground clearance;
not a problem on the highway but
certainly a concern on steep driveways.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Before retiring to Florida in the late 1990s,
Woody sold the '33 pick-up and the '32 coupe.
The '39 coupe was driven for a while in Florida
before Woody built a customized golf cart to replace it
and the '39 was sold.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 


Ken B said...

Ken Szekretar wrote to say, "Oh man. I just spent the last 25 min. walking (or should I say driving) down memory lane. Neat stuff for sure."

Ken B said...

Steve Metz wrote to say, "Nice! A trip through the past.....I wish I was still there. Thanks, Steve"

Ken B said...

Judy Turek emailed to say, "All fab – great writing, terrific pics – that 32 Ford – wow! Hope to see you again soon. Write on!"

Ken B said...

Woody & Carol emailed to say, "Thanks Ken, we enjoyed looking back."

Karl-Erik said...

Thank you for taking the time to show this, Ken! Even though I wasn't around in the early days the pictures of the 3-window coupe brings back fond memories of my trips to the US in the late 80's and early 90's. (the 4th of July party at Woody & Carol in 1989 especially!)

And since I never had the opportunity to see Woody's '39 Chevy IRL this was a rare treat!