The vehicle featured in this photo article is the 1931 Chevrolet Woody Wagon. This is a very unique vehicle called a "depot hack". Today we call these taxi cabs but back during the 1930's these cabs certainly looked different. The depot hack received it's name because many of these large vehicles were purchased by railroad stations that used them to take passengers to their hotel.
These were also the woody's long before Ford began building their popular woody's for individual use. The earliest woody's however were the wood bodied depot hacks like the one shown and were specifically built to carry people along with their luggage.
Depot Hacks and Station Wagons
The woody vehicles are considered the forerunners of what America came to know as the "station wagon". Most contend that the station wagon began with the depot hacks and evolved through the 1996 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon. The term station wagon appears to have began around the late 1920's. Today's station wagon could be called an SUV.
The depot hacks like the 1931 Chevrolet model shown here were originally used to transport passengers between hotels and train stations. They were also used to transport people to ferry docks.
The depot hack was essentially an open body vehicle with room to seat many passengers. Ford came out with a depot hack in 1919 using their universal Model T chassis. The Model T chassis was thought to be ideal for many type vehicles, everything from a passenger car to a commercial vehicle.
Depot Hack Woody's
The very fact that car and truck bodies were at one time made out of genuine wood meant that they would need to be restored at some point if they were to last. Wood does deteriorate over time. When a car body begins to rot there is nothing else to do than have it restored. The vintage and classic woody wagons and depot hacks you see on display today have had their wood body restored and the cost to do this would not have been insignificant.
Today you'll find several good companies that specialize in wood car body restoration. When you see a fully restored depot hack like the one 1931 Chevrolet depot hack shown here, there's a good chance that a five figure amount has gone into it.
Although not long after the 1929 stock market crash and the severe financial downturn that followed, the year 1931 was a significant one for Chevrolet. Although sales started to drop that year due to the onset of the Great Depression, Chevrolet sold it's 8 millionth car which represented a large milestone. Chevrolet had been selling six cylinder vehicles for some three years and had been outselling Ford. This stopped in 1932 when Ford came out with their eight cylinder engine.
1931 Chevrolet Depot Hack Specifications
The 1931 Chevy Depot Hack was built on a one-half ton truck frame.
The engine was a six cylinder 194.0 cu in., 3.2 liter delivering 50 HP. As a side note, Chevrolet was the first manufacturer out with a six cylinder engine in 1929 and the engine's nickname was :the cast iron wonder".
Transmission was a three speed manual.
The 1931 Chevrolet Depot Hack wheelbase was 108.5 inches. The vehicle weight varied widely due to the custom coachwork but would have been north of 2,500 lbs.
Below are two links to AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you'll enjoy.
Collector Car Values
Restored Depot Hacks of this era have been sold at auction for relatively good prices. The restored woody hacks are more valuable due to the price of restoration and their great looks.
As of this writing a 1926 Chevrolet Depot Hack, fully restored with new wood sold for $20,000. A 1926 Ford Woody Depot Hack sold for $16,000. A 1925 Ford Woody Depot Hack sold for $17,000.
(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)