While wooden bodies were the industry standard for the first part of the 20th century, by the ‘20s all-metal construction had become more economical and replaced wood. Wooden bodies became objects of prestige, hand built on a custom basis.
The beach wagon is an offshoot of the station wagon, or depot hack, vehicles used to carry passengers and luggage to and from the train station. Lizzie was the queen among depot hacks, and as the ‘20s brought refinements in autos, the wooden body began to take on an air of exclusivity. Body styles were called Suburbans, Country Club models and Estate Wagons.
Wooden bodied vehicles were not unique in the early part of the 20th century, but this Ford is a stark departure from traditional wooden bodies. The earliest automobile relied heavily on wood for frames, bodies, even axles. As all-metal construction became more economical, wooden construction became an object of prestige. Hand craftsmanship became an exception to the rule, where it had once been the rule. Until the 1920s, wooden bodied autos were typically station wagons. This was a literal definition of the term, wagons used to transport people and goods to and from the train station. The nickname “Depot Hack” was applied to the cars, hack being a nickname for a taxi and depot referring to the train station. Although similar in basic design to a depot hack, this beach wagon saw a slightly different role. This represents the upper crust in Model T fashion, a car belonging to a family that had the money to afford a custom body and the time to vacation at the beach.
The term beach wagon is primarily a New England appellation, especially fitting for Vacationland. One can imagine the excitement and joy this car must have inspired, traveling for a day at the beach. With generous seating and room for beach gear lashed to the running boards and roof, this T makes a perfect vehicle for a getaway in Maine.
Specifications: Model T; engine four-cylinder, in-line, water-cooled; bore 3-1/4 in., stroke 4 in., displacement 176.7 cu. in., 20 hp.
Price new, $615.
Accession no. 1981G22