Model B

Ford Garage

Scott Johnstone's Station Wagon

I recently received this story and pics from Scott Johnstone of Connecticut. This is the car he inherited from his father and is now restoring. Here is the story in his own words:

Several years ago I inherited a 1932 Ford Model B Woody from my father. The wagon has been in my family since I was four years old. I have always had an interest in the wagon; I even started scraping off the old varnish while in grade school, much to the chagrin of my father. Well, my father was not one to start a project, never mind finish one, so the wagon sat for thirty plus years waiting to be restored.

This is where I come in, looking to spend some time with my dad. I figured restoring the wagon would be a good way to strengthen my relationship with my father and finish a project he and my mother had started years ago. I'm now several years into a slow but fun restoration, and after hearing my dad's recollections, I now know how it all started.

One of the reasons I have always been interested in our families '32 Woody, was due to some of my memories as a four year old. I have memories of the former owners house, of the garage where the wagon was readied for towing, and a few other vague images. While working with my father on the wagon, he helped to fill in the rest of the details.

The year was 1966, and during the fall of that year, my mother and father (mostly my mother), decided to take a run from New Jersey up to Manchester, New Hampshire, to visit my father's uncle in Nashua, and do some Christmas shopping at the outlet stores. While driving up the highway thru Nashua, New Hampshire, my parents spotted some antique vehicles on the side of the road.

Now at this point, I must inform you that both my parents were antique collectors, so they were always on the look out for something old and interesting. My bother and sisters and I had accompanied my parents on many New England trips to estate auctions and antique shops. From the highway they could see the vehicles, but they couldn't get to them. After exiting the turnpike and spending quite a bit of time navigating the side streets of Nashua, my parents found their way to the vehicles, and to the owner. They then headed on up to Manchester.

The owner was Mr. Dick Kinney, who was a car salesman as well as a Model A restorer. Along with a 1927 Model A sedan was a 1932 B Woody for sale. My father wanted to buy the sedan, my mother wanted to buy the Woody (I think my mother had vision). After returning to New Jersey, my parents phoned Dick to discuss a price. At one point they considered buying both, but the asking price for both was $1,200. Common sense prevailed and they agreed on the wagon alone. My parents agreed to pay $700.00 for the Woody. But they still had to figure out how they would get the wagon home to New Jersey!

In the early spring, my mother and father scraped together the necessary funds and made plans to retrieve the wagon. My father took off a week from work, packed us kids in the car, dropped my brother and sister off at the grandparents, and headed north to New Hampshire. My parents and my little sister and I stayed in a Holiday Inn in Nashua. My father and Dick Kinney got the Woody ready to travel at Dick's shop. The idea was to tow the wagon with the Rambler, but to have the Woody road worthy just in case!

Getting the Woody road worthy was a full time job for my father and Dick, given the short amount of time they had. My father was the helper and gofer. One particularly memorable parts trip for my father was when he got to drive a beautifully restored blue phaeton to get a fuel pump kit. As my dad tells it, "Dick handed me the keys, asked me to get some gas, and head on over to such and such parts place. It felt really strange driving around town in that beautiful car".

At the parts store, my dad asked for the particular gasket expecting it to not be available, but the guy said, "Yup, we got that". He went in the back, and on the very top of a shelf, pulled down a box and blew off the dust. When my dad asked how much, he couldn't believe how little it cost. He wasn't sure if the great price had to do with Dick's car parked out front or not. Well the work to get the wagon ready took a lot longer than was initially thought. They had to return home because my fathers 'vacation' time ran out. So plans to return to Nashua were made, and they headed back to New Jersey.

When my parents did return to get the Woody several months later, the Rambler had to be modified to tow the wagon back to New Jersey. Dick's wife was sick and in the hospital, so arrangements were made for my parents to stay at Dick's house so my mother could take care of his two kids and his home while Dick and my father worked on the car.

My father tells me that Dick knew somebody at a local trailer (as in tractor trailer) assembly plant. So they drove the car into the facility and up onto the assembly line! A worker proceeded to weld together a hitch right there onto the car! My father told me he was a little concerned about the gas tank, to say the least. But with the Rambler still in one piece, it was now time to hook the Woody up to the car and go for a test spin. Dick insisted on testing out the new hitch and attached wagon. He got the car up to speed, and much to my father's dismay, jammed on the brakes! The test was a success! Now it was time to head south.

Old cars were not new to my father, he had had many; his first was a Model T, which he tinkered with in his youth. But I guess if you haven't driven an older car in awhile you forget some details. After my parents had gotten on their way, my father started to notice that the car was handling funny around the curves. It took him a little while, but he finally realized that he had forgotten to unlock the steering! Well fortunately there was no damage done.

The last obstacle my parents had to navigate was New York and the GWB (George Washington Bridge). My father doesn't much like city traffic, and even then it could be difficult. He told me it was quite unnerving towing that old wagon with all those vehicles flying by and moving all around! When they got to the toll plaza, he and the man in the booth had a misunderstanding on how much a towed vehicle would cost. After some discussion and a lot of honking, they came to an agreement, and were on their way.

Well the Rambler and the Woody made it home in one piece. The picture of my father and I sitting on the running board, in front of our home, is another reason I have an attachment to this wagon. It is a great picture of a proud father and son with a new project! Our family did take the Woody for several runs before it was put away due to other events in the family.

Fast Forward:

Restoration in Process

Scott Johnstone
May 2007