Bonhams to auction the only 1948 Pontiac “Woodie” in Europe

Bonhams is delighted to present an extremely rare 1948 Streamliner “Woodie” station wagon, estimated at €55,000 – 75,000, at the sale of Fine Motor Cars and Automobilia at the ‘Weekend de l’Excellence Automobile’ held on the former site of the French Grand Prix circuit of Reims-Gueux on Saturday 11th September 2010.

The ‘Woodie’ station wagon, with its characteristically half-timbered body, ranks alongside the pickup truck as a quintessentially American vehicle. The style originated in the 1930s, its popularity peaking in the immediately post-war decades, though the look has been periodically revived by manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic ever since.

Towards the end of the 1950s the Woodie became the vehicle of choice among California surfers, who appreciated its ability to carry several passengers and their boards. Surfer pop bands The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean both referred to them in hit singles, thereby enshrining the Woodie’s cult status. It has also featured in countless movies.

Pontiacs of this period are often referred to by the ‘Silver Streak’ name, a reference to their multiple chromed hood strips – a styling device first introduced in the mid-1930s. Boasting a wheelbase of 122″ (3,099mm), the Pontiac Streamliner Woodie was the largest on the market and could seat up to nine; alternatively, removing the rear seats created even more space.

The 1948 model is the last of what might be termed the ‘real’ Woodies, when the entire rear body structure was made of timber. In 1949 steel was used for the roof and progressively fewer components were made of wood up to 1953 when the last of these Pontiac station wagons was made. Manufactured by the skilled craftsman at the Ypsylanti Furniture Co in Michigan, the body of this 1948 Woodie incorporates 523 parts made from either mahogany or Canadian maple.

Out of the 23,000 Pontiacs made in 1948, only 1,000 left the factory with the eight-cylinder engine and three-speed manual transmission like this one. Surviving ’48 Pontiac Woodies are rare; indeed, it is estimated that there are fewer than 50 on the road in North America, and this wonderfully evocative example of classic Americana is believed to be the only one in Europe.

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