There’s fake wood and then there’s fake wood. 1948 was probably when the first imitation wood started appearing on car exteriors, when in mid-year the Chrysler Town & Country switched from real mahogany panels in between the hardwood framing to Di Noc vinyl. A decade later even the framing was ersatz dead tree, but unlike the Malaise Era when automakers competed on who could make the least realistic wood grain vinyl, in the late ’50s the Detroit automakers were still trying to make a convincing simulation.
Ford in particular had great looking fake wood on their Country Squire and Mercury Colony Park wagons. This particular ’59 Country Squire was part of the Jet Age Station Wagon class at the 2012 Concours of America. Note the WALIWLD (Wally World) vanity license plate and the Family Truckster plate frame, a somewhat ironic reference to the vehicular star of National Lampoon’s Family Vacation. I say ironic because the Family Truckster was really a satire on overstyled cars, with all sorts of superfluous items tacked on, as cars were in the Malaise Era – the cars sucked so they dressed them up with opera lights and geegaws. In contrast to the movie Family Truckster, Ford’s ’59 models were restrained, certainly compared to the ’59 GM cars with bat wing fins.