Old Woodies for Enthusiasts of Wood-bodied Cars and Trucks

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Woodie Buses

The omnibus, what we know today as a bus, is one of the first forms of motorized road-going vehicles. By the mid-1800's, steam driven omnibuses transported paying passengers over scheduled fixed routes in England.

1952 Dodge Campbell Club station wagonsAfter the turn of the last century, buses were an alternative to horse-drawn public transportation. Few people had cars and trains were the principal mode of transportation for long distances. The 'Sight Seeing Car' made its debut and was put into service at vacation destinations. By the 1920's wood bodies gave way to steel on the larger commercial vehicles. But wood remained popular for the most utilitarian personal vehicle --- the station wagon.

After World War 2, Robert Campbell's Mid-State Body Co. of Waterloo, New York, met a brief resurgence of demand for small wooden buses built on truck chassis. These vehicles were used by schools, manufacturers, and tourist attractions. Many were exported. In 1957 the company, the last manufacturer of wooden buses, was bankrupt.


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1875 Autobus of Amedee Bollee

1875 'Obéissante' built by French steam pioneer Amedee Bollee, sat twelve, weighed 5 tons, consumed 50 kilos coal per hour and cruised at 30 km/h with a peak speed of 40 km/h.

Source: Anguera Transports: Genealogía de los Camiones (Spanish)

French steam-powered wagonette in 1894

This French steam-powered wagonette for hire was in attendance at the world's first organized motorcar race, the Paris-Rouen event held in June of 1894. It may have been one of the 102 entries. Twenty-one cars started the 80 mile race, the first vehicle finished in five hours and forty minutes.

Source: A Pictorial History of the Automobile by Phillip van Doren Stern

1901 Mack bus

In 1900, the Mack brothers introduced their first successful vehicle --- a 40-horsepower, 20-passenger bus. The 1900 Mack bus, built for sightseeing concessionaire Harris and McGuire, operated in Brooklyn's Prospect Park for eight years before being converted into a truck. The vehicle racked up a million miles of service

Photo & caption copyright © 1996-2001 Mack Trucks, Inc. All rights reserved

1905 Oldsmobile Wagonette

"A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY - The Oldsmobile Ten Passenger Wagonette offers an attractive investment for street service in small towns, for stage line work, for depot service and for resort service. It is strongly built, equipped with a 16 h.p. two-cylinder vertical motor, price $2200. You can have a money-making business from the start. Its novelty attracts attention. Its satisfactory service holds patronage. You will find it profitable to get in touch with us at once and investigate what we have to offer. Lines have been installed in various parts of the country and are meeting with immediate success..."

1905 advertisement for the Olds Motor Works of Detroit, USA

1910 Grabowsky Power Wagon Co. Sight-Seeing Car

In 1910 Grabowsky Power Wagon Co. of Detroit Michigan offered this twelve passenger "Sight-Seeing Car" to entrepreneurs: "Men who are shrewd see the money-making possibilities of this proposition." In 1908 Max Grabowsky sold Rapid Motor Vehicle Company to the newly formed General Motors, who renamed Rapid and sold truck under the GMC Trucks moniker.

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1901 Mack bus

This early Mack 40 passenger model was in service in New Orleans until 1923.

Source: Antique Automobile magazine, February 1959,
Published by the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA)

1914 Stanley Mounain Wagon

1913 Stanley Model 810 mountain wagon owned by Alan Blazick

Courtesy of John Woodson's StanleySteamers.com

1914 Stanley Mounain Wagon

1914 Stanley Model 812 mountain wagon owned by Barry Herbert

Courtesy of John Woodson's StanleySteamers.com

1915 White woodie

1915 White GBEE ¾ ton covered flare-side passenger wagon.

1921 Graham

1921 Graham bus breaks new ground as an enclosed bus with glass windows throughout.


This Ford Model TT was the original courtesy bus for QANTAS Airlines of Australia at their headquarters in Longreach.

1923 Stanley Model 740 steam bus

Wood-bodied 1923 Stanley Model 740 mountain wagon is one of the last gasps for the company that championed steam locomotion upon the Nation's highways. It was formerly owned by noted Stanley Steamer expert Carl Amsley.

Courtesy of John Woodson's StanleySteamers.com

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 40/50

The venerable Rolls-Royce was not immune to transformation into a utilitarian vehicle. This coach-built Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 40/50 was bodied in wood as a small bus.

Source: R-REC Bulletin #235 (Jul/Aug 1999)
seen on DITTO's Rolls-Royce Pages

1929-30 Chevrolet Bus - Spain

This wood framed 1929/30 Chevrolet bus was in service in Spain


Hawaiian Jitney

Hawaiian Jitney - Created from cut-down American sedans, many were crafted of wood. This example is typical of the style but is probably made of steel.

Campbell Mid-State1947 Dodge Surrey

Jim Blankman's 1947 Dodge 1 ton 'Surrey' 12 passenger Campbell-built bus by the Mid-State Body Co. and initially put to use for transporting employees to a sardine packing company.

See the Old Woodies feature story The Sardine Bus is Back in Service

1949 Dodge Squad truck

An original 1949 Dodge with a Campbell Mid-State 'Club' body was formerly used as a squad vehicle by the Adena, Ohio Fire Department

Source: John Phillips' Classic Wooden Car Enthusiasts

Campbell Midstate 1952 Dodge Convoyer

Campbell Midstate Convoyer floorplan

The Campbell 'Convoyer' body on a 1952 Dodge 'F' dually chassis with a 152" wheelbase was built by Mid-State Body Co. Inc. of Waterloo, New York. This is likely to be the largest woodie to have ever been produced as a standard production model. It could accommodate 14-18 passengers and driver and was expressly designed for air-ports, clubs, plants, supply bases, etc. The installed body sold for $1,936.50.

Photo: Old Woodies collection

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