DECATUR, Ill. — Randy Goodrich is armed with a lot of ingrained skills when it comes to cleaning things.
The owner of “Randy’s Exper-Clean,” a Decatur firm that can spruce up anything from your home’s air ducts to its carpets and furniture knows what cleaning and polishing products work best, and where to use them. That’s why he lavishes a lot of Lemon Pledge wood polish on his 1948 Pontiac Silver Streak station wagon “Woody” hot rod.
After all, when three-quarters of the bodywork of your treasured chariot is crafted from mahogany and ash, you go with the flow.
Goodrich explains that 68 years ago, Pontiac didn’t actually make a station wagon. They built an already magnificent Silver Streak sedan and then shipped very few of them – the Woodys are as rare as hen’s teeth – off to the Ionia Mfg. Co. in Michigan, which did the station wagon bodywork in wood.
Seriously. And we’re not talking exotic lumber as applied luxury decoration. The sumptuously paneled wood on this vehicle forms much of the bodywork, doors and all of the roof – which looks like an upturned boat viewed from the interior.
The whole effect is pleasingly quaint and kind of historic, almost Elizabethan. If William Shakespeare had driven a car to and from the Globe Theater, it would have been a Silver Streak Woody.
Goodrich says that all that fancy woodwork made the station wagon, priced at some $2,500, the most expensive in the Pontiac line up for 1948.
“Resorts would buy them to haul guests around,” he adds.
But wooden cars didn’t prove a such great choice for much of the New World climate. Not that many Woodys were made to begin with, and by the time woodworm, dry rot and the ravages of the weather were done, very few survived the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Goodrich, who loves cool cars and knows the rarity of this one, stumbled across his pride and joy at a local auction in 2002. Covered in grunge, a bit rotten and stored in a barn since 1960, he had set a bid limit of $15,000 to buy it and ended up spending $19,500. Love knows no price restraint, and it soon turned out he wasn’t barking up the wrong tree, anyway.
“The very next weekend, I could have made a $5,000 profit when somebody else wanted to buy it from me,” he says.
Over the intervening years, he’s sunk many more thousands of dollars and countless hours of sweat equity into his timber ride.
Much of the wagon has been restored to just how it should look, but the car also features enhanced motivation, thanks to a more potent engine transplant along with improved mechanics and essential luxuries such as added air-conditioning.
Goodrich and his partner, Thea Westbay, have seen the vehicle win a forest of awards at shows and say it is the ultimate head-turner.
“Most people are like ‘Oh, wow,’ ” Westbay says. “This car is just something you don’t typically see going down the road.”
Some owners fortunate enough to possess such a cellulose gem would be tempted to mollycoddle it and only haul it around on trailers. That goes against the grain for Goodrich, who says the joy of owning a rolling piece of history is the sheer fun of driving it.
“With my Pontiac, if it’s on a trailer, it’s because it’s broke,” he says.
Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review, http://bit.ly/2cMeYu6
Information from: Herald & Review, http://www.herald-review.com
This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the (Decatur) Herald & Review.