Bookshelf: Classic Woodys by David Fetherston

Woody Book SetMac’s Motor City Garage reviews the magnum opus on woody automobiles that can never be surpassed, Classic Woodys by David Fetherston. 



You know veteran auto writer David Fetherston. Not long ago, we reviewed his book, Bonneville—A Century of Speed, a fantastic work on the history of salt racing with the proceeds going to Save the Salt, an organization devoted to preserving the Bonneville Salt Flats for future generations.

Now we examine another current work of his, Classic Woodys, available directly from the publisher or from bookseller Amazon. But let’s be clear: This is far more than a book. This is an entire presentation, as illustrated in the lead photo above. There’s so much here that we could do one of those fancy unboxing videos like they produce for high-end consumer electronics. Here’s everything you’ll receive inside the carefully packed shipping case the delivery person brings to your door.

+   A lovely pressboard box (upper right) labeled “Fetherston’s Treasure Box of Classic Woodys.”

+   Inside the pressboard box, a beautiful hardwood case (upper left) crafted to emulate the tailgate of a classic woody station wagon.

+   In the hardwood case, numerous goodies including vintage woody postcards, stickers, a collectible toy woody car, and a set of 11 hardwood reference samples of the select woods used in classic woody construction. These samples, including cherry, mahogany, and basswood, also relate to a chapter on woods in the book.

+   A bonus paperback volume of essays on food, travel, and automobiles, also by the author, titled Forty Short Stories to Read on an Airplane.

+   And, of course, the star of the show: the 12.5-inch square, eight-pound, 400-page opus, Classic Woodys, featuring the author’s expert historical commentary and thousands of beautiful color illustrations. A sample title spread:


Chrysler Woody


The book is, in a word, magnificent. Classic Woodys is a meaty, in-depth treatise on the complex history of wood-bodied American vehicles, with info on all the wood body manufacturers major and minor, but with the eye appeal of the finest coffee-table art book. This is easily the finest work on woody automobiles ever produced. It’s hard to imagine how its scope and quality could ever be surpassed.

And now we come to the price: $495. Yes, it’s true. Five bills is an awful lot of money for a book. But then, Classic Woodys is an awful lot of book.

In the digital age, the information industry has undergone tremendous change. Some consumers prefer to receive their content in the new stripped-down, digital form, enjoying all the economies that result. But there are still consumers  who prefer to receive their content not as a streaming packet of ones and zeros, but in the form of a traditional physical object: a finely bound book, a magazine, a vinyl LP.

So for buyers who believe that books and record albums and such are artifacts to be cherished in their own right, publishers are now offering super-premium editions. Classic Woodys is one such work. Devotees of classic wood-bodied automobiles, and the classic printed page, will not be disappointed.


Inside the book