Journal: In Appreciation Of Wood In Cars

In Appreciation Of Wood In Cars

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
July 7, 2016
12 comments

I grew up in an era when wood in cars was past its prime. Sport sedans had become Germanic, dark, and dour inside, and the few marques that included the word ‘wood’ on options lists required qualifiers like ‘veneer’, ‘simulated’, and ‘look’. Did automakers give up using trees too soon?

Aside from the irreplaceably clever team at Morgan, a company that can’t make its vehicles without wood, there’s little evidence outside of Scandinavian-inspired interiors that the natural world is allowed into our vehicles. But why?

Getting a ride in a classic Lancia Fulvia is probably what made me love the look of a wooden dashboard. It’s from an era where plastics and moulded panels were encroaching on interiors, but Lancia took the path of using the material as a nod to classic performance cars, shaping it to fit into a stylish cavity. Gauges are inset, as are the climate controls and radio, with a matching wood-rimmed steering wheel to tie it all together.

In the past, wood has been used for vehicle structure, body panels, and simple ornamentation. What’s your favorite use of wood in a classic car?

Image sources: carinteriors.tumblr.comautomobile-catalog.com

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Shahab Ahmad Khanjjordan99Pieter van der VeerAxelHarv Falkenstine Recent comment authors
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Shahab Ahmad Khan
Shahab Ahmad Khan

Why don’t you have an app? :'(

jjordan99
jjordan99

Talk about wood, my 1959 Morgan has a wood body frame (though very little is visible), a solid wood dash (not veneer) and a lovely wood steering wheel. All part of its very British character, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Pieter van der Veer
Pieter van der Veer

Still have fond memories of the wooden trim in my dad’s ’67 Daimler Sovereign. What I hate though, is when people install a wooden dash in an MGB or MGA. Wrong!

Axel
Axel

Still looking for a replacement to my Rover 75, but there is no one in sight for a long time it seems.

Harv Falkenstine
Harv Falkenstine

My very first car was a 1966 Triumph Herald Sedan, I owned it as a military brat in Munich, Germany in 1971/1972. When other kids has German cars with plain metal dashboards – my car had a wood dash! My favorite wood dash is in a late 50s Mercedes 220se (Sedan or Coupe). The wood continued around the car with the interior window frames made of wood.

plume19
plume19

Waht about wood chassis of GN Jap V8 !
Pre WW1 aircraft engine, wood chassis, what a car… and still runing very well and surprisingly fast after more than 100 years.

Douglas Anderson
Douglas Anderson

My XK6 ( owned during the Ford era) still had a touch of real wood veneer in a few places. We always felt a bit special when driving due to this small feature. It was without exception the most luxurious car we have ever owned up to this point.

Nom DelaNom
Nom DelaNom

A big part of what I like about daily driving my Jaguar XJ6 is looking out over those 6 round gauges in their big wood plank of a dashboard. The look, the aroma and the ambience help make every commute special. Is it environmentally sustainable to start putting wood in anything new with big production numbers? Probably not; but it adds immeasurably to the joy I get driving my old Jags from place to place.

Lee Elliott
Lee Elliott

My 1974 Subaru is basically metal, vinyl and plastic (as were most budget 1970s cars) but the addition of a wood rimmed Moto-lita steering wheel completely changed the ambiance.

Every time I touch the steering wheel it seems ‘alive’ compared to plastic or leather. Perhaps wood fell from favour thanks to the proliferation of fake, plastic wood?

Yes real wood should be included in cars!

David Roberts
David Roberts

I upgraded the Central armrest/cubbyhole in my Landrover 110 recently. Plywood features in both the original and the aftermarket enhancement!

XK120
XK120

Yes, I simply love wood in the cars. Especially dashboards in my Bentley S1 as well as in my dream car XK120 FHC are lovely examples. Why? Because of unrepeatable structure, warm feeling and skilled craftsmanship behind. But not only wood makes atmosphere inside the car special. Combination with true iron buttons, handles, leather upholstery and boucle carpets is makes the best feeling of proper materials application in my opinion.

Nom DelaNom
Nom DelaNom

Yes! A car is so much more than just horsepower. It must be a compelling place to spend hundreds of hours and, hopefully, many thousands of miles.