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October 23, 2019
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British Woodies from the 1920s to the 1950s

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British Woodies from the 1920s to the 1950s

British Woodies from the 1920s to the 1950s

By Colin Peck
About the Author

Paperback • 96 pages • £12.99 • 205 x 190mm • 89 colour and monochrome pictures

ISBN: 978-1-84584-169-0

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• The first book on the subject of British Woodies
• Details of all main chassis builders
• Details of many previously little known coachbuilders
• Contains many unique and previously unpublished photos
• Explores the rise and fall of this iconic form of transport
• Examines the role Woodies played in supporting British forces in WWII
• Looks at the challenges involved in restoring Woodies


Wooden-bodied shooting brakes, station wagons and estate cars, collectively known as Woodies, were the original SUVs (sports utility vehicles). While they were initially created for a specific purpose, their versatility, adaptability and load-carrying abilities meant that they quickly found favour with British buyers from all walks of life. In their heyday, they were built on virtually every make of car and light commercial chassis, and could be seen on every road in Britain. Sadly, today they are a rarity due mostly to the fact that their wooden bodies were not built to last – and most didn’t! Thousands were built by hundreds of coachbuilders, both large and small, and with the passage of time it may never be possible to record all of their details with any accuracy. The work of hundreds of small coachbuilder firms is highlighted here, and illustrated with 100 rare and previously unpublished photos. The British Woodie is undoubtedly a thing of beauty, and this book is a tribute to the skills of the coachbuilders that built these amazing wooden wonders.


In the 1920s, 30s and 40s, wooden-bodied shooting brakes, estate cars and station wagons were commercial vehicles made in Britain, mostly for utilitarian roles. They were built in relatively small numbers, often by small, lesser-known commercial bodybuilding firms, and required high levels of maintenance to ensure anything resembling a long life. Every chassis from Alvis, Austin and Bentley to Standard, Vauxhall and Wolseley was built as a Woodie at some stage, and they reached the peak of their popularity in the immediate postwar years when steel was in short supply and the majority of new cars were being built for export. Some vehicle manufacturers sold wooden-bodied utilities under their own name, but most were built in small workshops under contract to vehicle dealerships or selling direct to the general public. However, labour intensive constriction, high maintenance requirements and the introduction of the unitary chassis by Britain’s car makers all contributed to the eventual demise of the British Woodie. Today, there’s a resurgent interest in British Woodies across the world, with an increasing number of cars being restored and cherished.

Independent Reviews

"A really interesting little softback about a previously unexplored subject, this book contains some great archive shots ... it outlines the surprisingly large number of body builders involved, and is brightened with colour photos of surviving cars." – Octane

"Peck doesn't claim to have written a definitive history, but it's still an interesting read. You're just as likely to buy the book for the photos anyway. There are about 100 of them, a mix of contemporary photos and shots of restored woodies. This book is reasonably priced, and well worth a look." – New Zealand Classic Car

"This is a very good introduction to the subject, many illustrations with excellent historic and modern photographs: Highly recommended." – Classic Motor Monthly

"... the work of hundreds of small firms is highlighted and illustrated with 99 previously unpublished photos of these wooden wonders ... a tribute to the skills of the coachbuilders that created these curious cars." – Blackmore Vale Magazine

"The early half of the 20th century was the golden age, and Woodies weird and wonderful are crammed into this book, from humble Austins and Fords to a Jaguar XK140 and Rolls-Royces. Yes, it's specialist subject matter, but one that will appeal." – Classics Monthly

"Who better to write a book on British-built woodies than the founder of the Woodie Car Club? .. this 90-page edition is packed with insight and photos ... illustrations are a mix of period shots of long-lost cars and a gallery of survivors ..." – Classic & Sports Car

"Nicely illustrated with period and modern photos, ads, and a few detail shots of workshops. The literature on this subject is exceedingly thin and this book, small as it is, fills a gap." – The Flying Lady

"... packed with make-by-make histories, historic photos and contemporary photos of restored woodies and those awaiting restoration." – Woodie Times

"This excellent little book recalls the dying gasps of the coachbuilder's art and a number of famous names as well as many more obscure ones ... Recommended." – Gay Classic Car Group

"This publication is as delightful as the cars themselves and contains a fascinating collection of period and black-and-white photos as well as colour photos of restored examples. Highly recommended." – Australian Classic Car

"Colin Peck examines the resurgence of interest in British Woodies, and explores why these wooden wonders are so popular. He highlights the work of many small coachbuilder firm and includes over a hundred previously unpublished photographs …" – Best of British

Additional Information

Includes - Allard, Alvis, Austin, Armstrong, Siddeley, Bentley, Bradford, Bristol, Chrysler, Commer, Daimler, Ford, Humber, Invicta, Jaguar, Jowett, Lanchester, Lea-Francis, Morris, MG, Packard, Riley, Rolls-Royce, Standard, Studebaker, Wolseley


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