Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Ray Routhier firstname.lastname@example.org
Some car buffs care deeply about sparkling chrome and perfectly buffed wax jobs.
Sonny Perkins’ woodie, with its license plate that reads, appropriately enough, “GUTA WDY.”
This woodie, owned by Jim and Leanne Blankman of Eastport, has a working history. It once shuttled workers to a cannery in North Lubec.
WOODIES IN THE COVE ANTIQUE CAR SHOW
WHEN: Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. show; 2 to 3 p.m. parade
WHERE: Liquid Dreams, 696 Main St. (Route 1), Ogunquit for show; parade route is from Liquid Dreams south on Route 1 to Perkins Cove and back again
HOW MUCH: $3; free for children up to age 12; $5 for parking; free to view parade
Sonny Perkins is more partial to the gleam of finely polished birch and maple. His dream car is not a '57 Chevy or a '65 Mustang.
It's a 1940 Ford woodie.
"I just think it's beautiful," said Perkins, 65, of York. "In my eyes, it's the prettiest car out there."
Perkins' "prettiest car out there" has a chassis with a hand-made, mostly wood body. If you've never seen one before, a woodie might look a little like a project some Cub Scouts made, with help from their dads and power tools. Or maybe like a stagecoach with an engine.
But to lots of folks, including Perkins and other woodie owners, wooden antique autos are something special to behold. So they're putting their dream cars on display and on parade.
The second annual Woodies in the Cove Antique Car Show will take place Saturday in Ogunquit at the parking lot of the Liquid Dreams surf shop.
The cars will be parked for people to peruse from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., after which there will be a woodie parade down Route 1 to Perkins Cove (yes, it's named for Sonny Perkins' ancestors). The drivers will then turn around and come back to the surf shop.
There is no mistaking the cultural power of the woodie. In the '50s and '60s, they became the preferred car of surfers, as they were big enough to carry the boards along with their friends in the days before mini-vans. They show up in songs by Jan and Dean ("Surf City") and The Beach Boys ("Surfin' Safari"), among others.
Perkins has been surfing since 1961, and has been written up in various publications as Maine's first surfer.
But it wasn't until he retired a few years ago that he finally bought himself a woodie.
"When we were surfing as kids, it was always our dream car," said Perkins, 65. "I told myself that would be one of my bucket list items. So the first thing I did when I retired was buy it."
Woodies date back to the 1920s, when woodworkers customized a Ford Model T or other car with a wood body, often to provide more passenger room. They weren't called woodies then -- they were often known as "depot hacks," and were used to shuttle people around.
Woodies became popular again during World War II because steel was in high demand for planes and ships. But by the late '50s, they weren't being made anymore. Car makers continued to have outer panels that were the color of wood on certain models for years, but the days of real wood on a new car are long gone.
Perkins expects some 25 to 40 woodies and their owners will come to the show, depending on the weather. He's reached out to woodie owners and various chapters of the National Woodie Club.
Perkins is a board member of the Historical Society of Wells and Ogunquit, and came up with the idea of a woodie show as a fundraiser.
"I didn't want to have a gala in the meeting house where people come in and have punch," said Perkins. "I knew there was only one other woodie show in New England, on Cape Cod, so I thought this would be fun."
Jim and Leanne Blankman of Eastport will be at the show with their 1947 Dodge woodie bus. Like a lot of woodies, the Dodge has a working history.
It was used in the '60s to shuttle workers to a sardine cannery in North Lubec, and before that might have been used to carry train passengers to various destinations. Blankman, 64, knows that woodies similar to his were used in Boothbay Harbor for just such a purpose.
He is so enamoured of the woodie style that he also makes and sells woodie-style skateboards and woodie-style tear-drop trailers. He'll be towing one of those from the back of his '47 Dodge when he cruises into Ogunquit for Woodies on the Cove.
Blankman bought the '47 Dodge because he is a woodworker, and appreciated the craftsmanship. He purchased it after it had been sitting in a barn in Calais for many years and was beginning to rot away. The body is mostly mahogany and ash.
"I told the woman (he bought it from) that I was the person to buy it because I'd take care of it," said Blankman.
And he has.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: