Santa Cruz Woodies – 24th Annual Woodies on the Wharf
The Santa Cruz Woodies are a hearty bunch of wood wagon enthusiasts who like to party as much as they like their cars. Their annual Woodies on the Wharf gathering is the ultimate event for any fan of wooden cars, or even old cars for that matter. Celebrating its 24th year, it’s the largest event of its kind in the northern half of the Golden State and gives off a surf vibe like no other. After all, Santa Cruz is Surf City USA.
It’s not just a one day deal either. The festivities start on Thursday evening with a welcome party at the Hilton, followed by paddle out sessions and yoga Friday before the cars hit the wharf Saturday.
This year’s happenin’ unfolded under spectacular sunny skies, not a whisper of fog in sight – a rarity in these parts. Thankfully, the cool ocean air picked up its afternoon breeze serving as Mother Nature’s air conditioning.
The host site is as iconic as the city itself. First built in 1914, Santa Cruz Wharf is 2,754 feet in length and is constructed entirely of Douglas Fir pilings driven deep into the sea bed below. Its width is suitable for events, while the restaurants and surf museum offer those strolling by plenty of window shopping.
Santa Cruz Woodies – Woodies on the Wharf is more than just the woodie wagons you normally think of. It is open to any kind of car with wood, or those made of wood.
The car that really captured the crowd’s attention this year was John Allen’s 1926 Ford “T” Speedster. The only thing on this car that might still be “Ford” is the frame and suspension. John built the whole body and fenders from wood. Hundreds of pieces of wood were laminated together, sanded, varnished, and polished to a high gloss. John says there are over 80 different pieces of wood just in one fender! The wood was soaked in water, placed over a curved buck, then vacuum sealed with a plastic bag until the wood was dry. Pull off the plastic bag, peel it off the buck, and bingo! You have the curved fender! People loved this car. It had a crowd around it all day (which made getting a clear shot difficult).
One of the great things about this show is that you will normally find the cars’ owners camped out nearby. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their cars. Ninety-nine percent of the time the owners love telling you about them. That’s how I met Joe Barnett and his 1927 “C” cab, better known as the “U.S. Male Truck”. I told Joe that I was surprised to see all the late model running gear under such an old “C” cab truck. Joe explained that he loves putting many miles on his truck, he loves to travel and needed dependable running gear. In fact, Joe says if he wasn’t sitting in this car show he’d be out on the road with his truck racking up more miles right now.
I found that most of the woodie owners shared Joe’s passion for hitting the open road. Ya gotta drive them!
The Santa Cruz Woodies have a great relationship with the city of Santa Cruz as well as the Wharf. It’s a partnership that has endured nearly two and a half decades and will continue to do so, promoting the cars and culture of surfing’s past in Nor Cal.