Woodies Once Again

woodie2The 1950s Santa Cruz surf lifestyle is back—at least for a day this coming weekend.

On Saturday, June 23, 200-plus antique wood-bodied cars from across the country will come together for their 18th annual reunion on the Santa Cruz Wharf. The group will include an enormous variety of pre-1952 woodies.

In addition to showing off an impressive array of vintage cars to sizable crowds, the annual event brings back a feeling of nostalgia for many of its owners, as well as Santa Cruz locals. Don Iglesias, founder and “Club Kahuna” of the Santa Cruz Chapter of the National Woodie Club, says the event takes him back to his childhood—revisiting the vehicles recalls the feeling of being “a little boy peeking over the seat” in his parents’ old woodie, he says.

 “In the 1950s,” he explains, “there were no vans, and the lifestyle at the beach requires bringing a lot of gear.” The original design of the wood-bodied car was inexpensive because of the impracticality of its material, which would easily rot. In the words of Iglesias, “it was like driving around [in] your grand piano.”  But the cars were cheap and big enough to do the job, and the woodie tradition was born.  

At Woodies on the Wharf, viewers will see many cars that are souped up, shiny, and revived to near-perfect condition. But to Iglesias and many others, some of the most interesting models are the “un-touched originals.”  One car, explains the Club Kahuna, was bought by its owner for $200 when he was in high school. Now in his 60s, the only money the owner ever put into the car—aside from gas, of course—was one replacement of the tires. “I like the funky old cars that have a lot of duct tape and are held together by wire,” says Iglesias. Back in the original surf days, he adds, nearly every woodie looked much closer to that than today’s fancy counterparts.

The 18th annual Woodies on the Wharf will be held on Saturday, June 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

For more information, visit santacruzwharf.com or santacruzwoodies.com.

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