As a kid, the thought of humans coexisting with dinosaurs was captivating. The vulnerability that humans must have faced was simply mind-boggling, and it comes with good reason. Imagine some 160 million years ago when humans witnessed Quetzalcoatlus flying around with a 40-foot wingspan? Or imagine seeing a Brachiosaurus standing at about 50 feet tall? Definitely a frightening thought, especially considering the fact that if you’ve ever had a crow land near you, it’s enough to make you sprint for safety—and a crow measures in at probably 1/5 the size of a T-Rex turd.
So now that I’ve just shown you my nerdy side, it’s safe to say that my infatuation with dinosaurs remains, but this time around I’m more interested in dinosaurs that have four wheels—and in this case, this relic is also made with wood. American classics such as this one here are slowly facing extinction by the hands of humans. They are being left outside to rot in fields, and being sold off for parts, but thankfully there are still humanitarians willing to invest the time, sweat, and tears to bring them back to life, and that’s exactly the case for Porfie Maldonado, the owner of this pristine 1948 Chevrolet Woodie Wagon.
“I saw the wagon sitting there looking sad and lonely, just begging to see the light of day,” Porfie explains, describing his first time seeing the vehicle. He had seen the Woodie wagon on a Facebook post and gave the owner a call. Looking to battle the extinction of this incredible wagon, he struck a deal and shot off to Colorado with a few friends to pick it up. Upon his arrival, he realized the vehicle was in a lot rougher condition than the pictures had depicted, but he took it as a challenge, and in his own words, said, “I knew this build was going to truly test my ability as a builder so I went for it,” a big statement, especially coming from a man who happens to be the owner of Reflective Auto Collision.
Looking to test his team’s ability to restore cars, he set a goal to have the wagon ready to debut at the Albuquerque Super Show, just nine months from his start date. Right away, his team began to disassemble the vehicle and that’s when they discovered major rot. As the pieces began to pile, he sent out everything that needed to be chromed to Triple Plate Chroming while Old Car Garage received the motor, transmission, and rearend. For the past 35 years, Porfie has been restoring cars but never has he worked with wood. Looking to expedite the repair of his Woodie with stellar results, he walked across the street to consult with Fine Custom Furniture and Doors. The shop specialized in custom wood furniture and decided to ask them if they were willing to work on the wagon. “We’ve done furniture since the ’90s,” Castillo explains (the owner), “but never a car.” They decided to take on the project and for the next eight months sanding, restoring, and even replacing parts with wood pieces they built.
The Reflective crew took on the body and they began by sandblasting and exposing the metal. The more they sandblasted, the worse it got. Most of the metal needed to be replaced, including the entire floor. Luckily for them they had a parts car that was sitting in the back. Once the bodywork was done, they were able to start test-fitting the wood. “The wood was the most critical part of the build as it’s mostly made out of wood.” The doors, roof, tailgate, and quarter-panels are all made out of wood inside and out. Everything had to be pre-fitted before they could move onto paint.
Once they got the green light, the crew laid the paint while the rest of the parts were sent to Absolute Powder Coating. With everything redone and the show around the corner they began reassembling the car and just as planned the Woodie was able to make its debut at the 2016 Albuquerque Super Show. As expected, the Woodie struck gold and got plenty of attention, even garnishing the attention of the mayor who came up to compliment Porfie on the build. He eventually placed First, and his other car (a 1937 Business Coupe) got Second. The car also went to the Las Vegas Super Show where it won sweepstake for Original of the Year, thus keeping this dinosaur of a relic free from taking a dirt nap.
1948 Chevrolet Woodie Wagon
216 rebuilt to original specs
PPG tan paint
Walnut-colored leather stitched seats to original patterns
15-inch Artilleries 185/60R15 Firestones