The features of a surf woodie car, such as the 1934 Ford station wagon, include a 221-cubic-inch V8 engine, non-synchromesh first gear, rod-operated brakes and stiff steering. The passenger cabin is small, and a person more than 6 feet tall has little clearance room. The dashboard and steering wheel are close together. The car wood and mechanicals vibrate at about 40 miles per hour, and using modern gas blended with ethanol can cause vaporization in the fuel line.
When steel became a more affordable construction material after the turn of the 20th century, Ford began using steel and wood to produce its 1929 Model A car. To produce cars for taking travelers and baggage to and from train depots, Ford used hardwood for the car's passenger area and steel for the rails, front bumper and hood. Soon afterward, Buick, Chrysler and Plymouth created their versions of woodies, but Chevrolet did not introduce its first woodie until 1939. Manufacturers began phasing out wood use after World War II, and by 1950, automakers used decals made of wood grain on their station wagons. Buick was the last automaker to use real wood accents, on its 1953 Super Estate wagon.
During the 1960s and 1970s, surfers drove woodies such as the 1950 Ford Country Squire wagon, which features Torq Thrust wheels and a mild chassis rake. As of 2015, about 19 of the 2,810 V8-powered station wagons that Ford manufactured in 1934 still exist.