Did you know that the Woodie is the official car of Surf City?
Born in 1929, the wooden wagons gained popularity in the 1960s among California surfers. The appeal? Spacious interiors welcoming a large number of passengers—and surfboards.
The Beach Boys along with Jan and Dean only fueled the Woodie craze with lines like, “We’re loadin’ up our Woodie with our boards inside, and headin’ out singin’ our song” and “I bought a ’30 Ford wagon, and we call it a Woodie. Surf City, here we come.” In spring 2006,
we made it official.
Rolling through Huntington Beach over the decades, Woodies are symbolic of our rich surf heritage and lifestyle. You might spot one parked proudly outside a local event, or entire rows of these iconic beauties lined up at one of our traditional annual car shows.
Huntington Beach native Mike “Mickey Rat” Ester has surfed the pier for 60 years and still competes today. Here he shares what the Woodie means to him. Traveling the coast in search of surf during the pre-teenage years, we’d throw our boards in or on top of an older brother’s or a buddy’s Woodie, and still have room for everyone. Gas was so cheap back then that if we each pitched in about 25 cents, the owner could fill up the car and away we’d go.
When my brother and I reached the teenage years, we’d save up our paper route money and buy an old Woodie for $50-$75. It’d run for awhile, at least long enough to make a bunch of trips to the pier. I’m so blessed to be from that era, surfing Huntington Beach in the late 50s and 60s and watching the surfing culture grow, not realizing what it would become. I bought my 1947 Ford Woodie back in 1987 in Laguna Canyon. It means a lot to Huntington Beach’s surf culture. It’s often used for local events and can be seen every week cruising Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway.
Originally printed in the 2016/2017 Huntington Beach Officials Visitors Guide