Old Woodies for Enthusiasts of Wood-bodied Cars and Trucks

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Wicker Woodies

OK, it is a stretch --- A car made like a laundry basket is not what you envision when someone says woodie. Woody fiber basket-weave autobodies are lightweight, resilient and economical. Delve into transportation history, and one can find the apparent ancestors of these quirky vehicles: wickerwork carriages, sedan-chairs, reed boats, even hot-air balloons. For me --- I can't help but smile!


Click any picture for a larger view

1897 Hugot (France)

French made 1897 Hugot with a body made entirely of wicker has a 3½ horsepower motor under the seat.

Source: History of the Motorcar, a book by Marco Matteucci

1898 Wartburgwagen

Take a cane chair, stick it on a wooden frame, add four mudguards, wheels, headlamps, and a two-cylinder, rear-mounted engine and presto — an 1898 Wartburgwagen. It was built by the Eisenbach Company in Wartburg, Germany.

Image and caption from the Collector's History of the Automobile,
a book by Peter Roberts

1906 aftermarket woven reed body

An American woven reed body advertised as light, cool, and comfortable.

Source: Motor Magazine, 1906

Circa 1910 wicker car

"This Unusual vehicle looks like a giant baby buggy!" says Frances Cody of Sun Lakes, Arizona USA. "The little girl in the front seat is my aunt, Ellavern Vrooman. She's pictured with her neighbors in their new car. The picture was taken in front of their home in Detroit around 1910. The car bears a Michigan license plate. No one we've talked to can identify this vehicle, nor have they seen or heard of a car with a wicker body"

Thanks to Jim McClain, who saw it in Reminiscence magazine (800)344-6913

1914/15 Electriquette

The wicker bodied Electriquette was produced in Los Angeles, California from 1914 to 1915. These electric powered vehicles were rented to San Diego Exhibition visitors for $1 per hour. Around 200 were built.

Photo and caption: Weird Cars by John Gunnell

1915 Gadabout

A distinct evolutionary branch of woodie history, this 1915 Gadabout Model G has a shock-absorbing wickerwork body. Little else is known of the New Jersey-made auto. In Europe, the woody plant fiber theme reoccurs in the Hanomag, and even a rebodied Bugatti.

Photo Courtesy of Veteran Car Club of Great Britain

1921-22 Economic

Wicker and wood — the Economic, a British three-wheel buckboard cyclecar produced from 1921-22.

Wicket sidecar

Wicker and leathers — a basket-work sidecar on a Yale motorcycle in Toledo, Ohio.

Courtesy of The Historic Old West End of Toledo

Hanomag Vintage Racing
1925 Hanomag Korbwagen1925 Hanomag Korbwagen

A 1920's woodie of sorts from Germany, this primitive wicker basket case was manufactured by Hanomag. The 'Korbwagen' was the budget version of the all-steel model known as the 'Kommissbrot'. The top photo was taken during a modern Swiss hill-climb. The other images are of a subtley different car, owned by Herr König of Cottbus, Germany. After WWII, Hanomag ceased making cars and became known for their durable trucks. Daimler Benz bought Hanomag in 1969 and incorporated it into their truck line.

Photos and information from Cars That Time Forgot, by Giles Chapman;
Rex Schneider; and Andrei Bogomolov's Old Timers web site (Russia)

bugatti_type46_wicker_rs.jpg (18029 bytes)bugatti_type46_wicker_ls.jpg (47158 bytes)

Another basket case! This 1930's Bugatti Type 46 was originally built with standard coachwork, but was converted to a truck during World War II to avoid confiscation by the Germans. After the war, it was rebodied in wicker --- a "Riviera" body, so to speak. This was quite satisfactory, as the new 2+2 coachwork was lighter, the car was quicker. Known as the 'La Farbie' Bugatti, it was frequently seen at European Bugatti rallies in the 1980's and is now thought to be in the Netherlands.

Information & photo sources: Jacob's Bugatti Pages & VintageWeb

1966 Urbanina

1966 Urbanina, a motorized washing basket on four wheels with a chair on top can hardly solve the traffic problem of the inner city, even though the designers were convinced that the car could be parked sideways.

Photo & caption: 'Kleinwagen: Small Cars Petite Voitures',
a book by Hans-Ulrich von Mende & Matthias Deitz

2CV_basket.jpg (19948 bytes)

Thought to be Iranian, this Citroën 2CV has been partially rebodied in wicker - an interesting improvization using local materials to cope with local conditions. Could this be the bastard offspring of the Urbanina and an Africar reject?

Photo courtesy Ian Marshall

Fiat 500 Jolly

Late 1950's Fiat Jolly was a novel 'Riviera' style adaptation by Carrozzeria Ghia of the conventional Fiat 600. Wicker was used for both front and rear seats. They are often seen with a canvas surrey top.

For supplies and information on the art of caning, visit Richmond Restorations
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