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Homepage. This page: Snapshot of a woodie based on an ex-military, possibly Ford WOT2, chassis.

Coachbuilt "woodie".

In the years following the end of WW2, a glut of ex-military vehicles appeared on Britain's roads, thanks to huge auctions held by the Ministry of Supply in a bid to dispose of vehicles that were no longer required. Vehicles, ranging from small staff cars through to the heaviest commercial vehicles, found new lives in civilian hands. Lorries that were built perhaps as troop carriers, or gun tractors, were stripped of unnecessary hardware and pressed into service with the likes of hauliers, travelling circuses, and garages. The fact that the supply of brand new vehicles was limited in the years following the war, made these auction buys even more appealing to business owners keen to expand their fleets.
The photograph shown below was emailed over by Ron. It was taken in about 1950, in Falkirk, Scotland. In it are Ron's father and grandmother, stood alongside an amazing woodie that had clearly been built on a former wartime lorry chassis. It was known simply as "The Wagon".
Click to view:
Ford woodie of the 1940s
Ron's grandfather (also named Ronald Gilchrist) set up his own business after the war. He was a carpenter, and specialised in buying de-mobbed army lorries and converting them to a civilian role, in this case as a woodie, or estate car. While the photograph isn't the clearest, the military origins of its running gear are clear to see, thanks to the disproportionately large military pattern wheels and tyres. Whereas the original bodywork would have been quite rudimentary, the replacement wooden coachwork is much sleeker. The steel or aluminium wings accommodate the huge wheels well, and may just have originated on another vehicle before being used here. The bonnet and front grille, what can be seen of them, also look like they may have begun life elsewhere, or been built especially for the job.

Ford WOT2?

Ford, as the maker of the chassis and running gear, has been put forward as one possibility. My guess is that the chassis is from a 15cwt Ford WOT 2 truck, the wheels and hubs seem to match, as does the wheelbase. If this is the case, then likely as not a sidevalve V8 engine of 60bhp resided under the bonnet of the car in Ron's photo. The front wings are similar, but not identical to, those fitted to WOA 2-based Ford staff cars.
For a car, with wheels and tyres that huge, it would have been a heavy old girl to drive. But with the supply of road vehicles in such short supply after the war, and the spirit of "make do" still prevailing, this unusual woodie would undoubtably have found a willing new owner, once put on sale.
Thanks for sending it over Ron!
Photos of several old woodies may be found across the site. Examples include a smart conversion based on a Ford Model Y, and another using the running gear of a post-war Lea Francis.
Return to Page 18 in the photographic archive. Alternatively, visit the main index of images here.

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