1951 Buick Super Woody Wagon / Photos, Specs, Styling

Our featured automobile is a nicely styled 1951 Buick Super Woody Wagon.

For the 1951 model year the Buick was offered as a Roadmaster, a Super, and a Special. The Roadmaster was the top tier offering and the Special the lowest. Engines for 1951 were a 320 cubic inch inline eight for the Roadmaster, a 263 cubic inch inline eight for both the Super and Special.


buick woody
1951 Buick Super Woody Wagon

The Era of Wood Bodied Automobiles

Using real wood as parts of automobile bodies only lasted a relatively short time. Basically it covered the decades of the thirties and forties and in the case of Buick extended into the very early 1950’s. There’s no question that wood bodied cars were considered special. The 1940’s are considered to be the golden decade of woodies.

The Ford Motor Company was so much into wood bodied cars that the company bought thousands of acres of woodlands in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,. Ford produced it’s last woody in 1951. After that Buick was the only brand building real woody wagons. The last of the Buick Woody Wagons were the 1953 Super Estate Wagon and the 1953  Roadmaster Estate Wagon.

The case against wood bodied automobiles included the fact that wood could easily add several hundred pounds to the vehicle’s weight thus reducing overall performance. Wood bodied cars also posed a safety factor as engines improved and average speeds increased. There was also a durability and maintenance factor in as much as wood required maintenance to keep it’s appearance up. In addition to the above, the time it took to build a wood bodied car was longer than building an all steel vehicle. This would cause the price of the vehicle to keep rising due to labor costs alone.


1951 Buick Super Woody Wagon Styling

The 1951 Buick Super styling was eye catching. The large Woody Wagon at first appeared too large. The concerns were that the handling might be difficult but drivers reported that the large Buick wagon handled very well.

Buick was known to have the flashiest styling of all the General Motors brands. Buick’s closest sibling within GM was Oldsmobile and the Buick styling was definitely flashier.  The grille on the 1951 Buicks is a good example of this. Interestingly enough is that the 51 Buick grille was updated from the “Bucktoothed” styled 1950 due primarily to insurance and automobile editor complaints. The 1950 grille was made with nine separate pieces making it harder and very costly to replace. The 1951 grille was made with far less pieces and didn’t have the “Bucktoothed” looking grille.

woody wagon

It appears however that the grille change from 1950 to 1951 had a negative effect on sales. Buick reported about 400,000 vehicles in total production for 1951 which was significantly below the 665,000 vehicles in 1950. You might assume from this that car buyers truly missed the bucktoothed grille.

The change of grilles for the 1951 Buick was the main change from the previous year since the remainder of styling followed the new 1950 design.

It’s interesting to note that Harley Earl of GM was of the opinion that all five GM brands should have certain styling that differentiated each of them. In Buick’s case, the potholes on the side of front fenders along with vertical bars on horizontal grilles set the brand apart.

1951 Buick Super Woody Wagon Specifications

As mentioned above, the 1951 Buick Super Woody Wagon was equipped with a 263 Cubic Inch Inline Eight. The engine is rated at 128 HP.

Transmissions are a Dynaflow two speed automatic and a three speed manual. 

Brakes are four wheel hydraulic drums

Front suspension included Independent coil springs with ride stabilizer. Rear suspension included torque-free springing coil springs.

Model dimensions include a 121.5 inch wheelbase, 206.2 inch overall length, 80.0 inch width, 64.2 inch height. Curb weight 4,355 lbs. As a comparison, the top tier Roadmaster Wagon has a 126.5 inch wheelbase and a 211.0 inch overall length.

Total 1951 Buick production was 404,600 vehicles. Out of this figure there were 2,210 Super Estate Wagons produced and only 675 Roadmaster Wagons built.

See related Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

1955 Two Door Buick Special

1948 Buick Super Eight Convertible

1958 Buick Century Caballero Wagon

Reference material for this article includes…The Buick: A Complete History by authors Terry B. Dunham and Lawrence R. Gustin…Woodys by David Ferhersten…Complete Book of Collectible Cars by the Editors of Consumer Guide…The Encyclopedia of Classic Cars by Keven Brazendale.

1951 buick


The 1951 Buick Super Woody Wagon Collector Car Prices

The 1951 Buick Super Woody Wagon is not an automobile you see too often at car shows and auctions. As mentioned, only 2,210 were produced for 1951. In 1953, the last year for the Super Woody Wagon, only 1,800 of these examples were built. These real wood Buicks are rare and the ones you see today are usually beautifully restored like our featured example.

Auction sales  results for the 1951 Buick Super Woody Wagon are in a general range from about $42,000 to $60,000. These would reflect resored examples in excellent condition.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)