Home Page 1968
Home Page 1969
Reunion Videos
Picnic in The Park Reunion July 28, 2012
Register If Attending Picnic In The Park 2012
Alumni Attending Picnic In The Park 2012
Slide Shows & Pictures
Bio Book Page
Reunion Alumni List
Small Class Reunions
Newsletter 03/21/08
Memoriam Class of '68
Car Of The Month
About This Web Site
Football Programs
Green & Gold '65 - '68
Fleming Crusader News
Links & Contacts
Narbonne Year Books

S'68 Jack Peres

S'68 Paula Christenson S'68 Carol Lopez S'68 Steve MacArthur S'68Richard Martinez S'68 Nancy Stockinger S'68 Dennis Webb Select to Read What I Have To Say Select to Class Officer Page
W'68 Bobbie Johnson W'68 Wayne Kiyokane W'68 Joanne MacHale W'68 Steve Perry Deceased W'68 Susan VanKralingen W'68 Dennis Wuethrich W'68 Robin Yamamoto  

Dennis & Johnnie Wuethrich

Select For Slide Show


In the summer of 1976 while employed by the Los Angeles Police Department I was working uniform patrol driving a marked patrol vehicle near Venice Beach, California. I observed a tan color 1941 Ford Station Wagon approaching from the opposite direction, which caught my eye. It was being driven by a female with two additional passengers. As the “Woodie” went by I noticed “FOR SALE” signs in the window. I immediately made a U-turn and activated my emergency lights. The driver pulled to the curb and stopped. She immediately got out and asked me what she had done wrong. Nothing, I replied, how much are you asking for the car. She replied she was taking the two passengers for a test drive. I inquired if they had made a deposit or offer to which she replied no. I again asked how much for the car. She stated her price to which I said, I’ll take it. Surprised, she asked what do I tell the other people? I said well, ask them to get out of my car! I gave her a deposit and the following day I completed the purchase of my “Woodie”.

My “Woodie” was best described as “looking good from a far, but was far from good”. It appeared to have most all the pieces but had been poorly and cheaply put together. The carpet and upholstery were low quality, the top was canvas and the paint was new, but poorly applied. It had a V8 flathead 85 HP engine and the 3 speed on the tree. Aside from any flaws, it had a lot of potential and patina. I also learned that for my purchase price it came with many additional spare parts, hoods, fenders, dashboards, sheet metal parts and many boxes of miscellaneous small items. Later I would come to appreciate the spare parts as I learned the uniqueness of the model year during which each “Woodie” was produced.

Once in my possession one of the first things I did was purchase five new wide whitewall tires and had them mounted. This alone made the car look much better than it really was. Back then there were not as many businesses specializing in classic vehicles, especially specific to “Woodies” and finding parts was a bit more difficult than today. I drove to and attended my first car show, the 8th Annual all Ford Picnic at Knott’s Berry Farm. While there, one passerby commented that I had a “nice starter car”.

Basically I drove and enjoyed my “Woodie” on an occasional basis until one day during 1979 the battery gave out and it was pushed into the garage. I didn’t realize then that it would remain there for the next 24 years! The timing coincided with my starting a multi room addition to my home due to the pending birth of my daughter. That project took up all my time, and money, thus the “Woodie” began being neglected. Immediately following that room addition, I began a second much larger addition, preceding the birth of my son. That, of course meant I continued to ignore the “Woodie”. I’m ashamed to say that the “Woodie” was parked and neglected for all that time. While parked in the garage the “Woodie” became a storage area. Among other things, we stored excess “Tupperware” items from a home based business within the interior and building items on it’s roof. Once during the “storage” period I noticed there were mice in the garage. After repeatedly setting traps for several weeks, I caught 23 mice, all from within my neglected “Woodie”. The mice had ruined the carpet and ate some wiring and upholstery. Also during this time, I received some pressure from my then wife to sell the “Woodie”. That was something I did not want to do. To test the water and pacify, I did however run an ad in the Los Angeles Times offering it for sale. I received only one call from a man who stated he was from the San Diego area and only asked why I was selling it. I said “pressure”, to which he said, don’t sell it you’ll regret it. I agreed and cancelled the ad.

It wasn’t until after I retired in 2002 that I finally, in September of 2003, extracted the “Woodie” from within the garage and began cleaning and repairing it with the intent of driving it once again. While doing this a neighbor approached and informed me that he was starting a custom auto and performance business and made me an offer to completely restore my “Woodie”. He also offered me the opportunity to do some of the work myself and the facilities of a complete shop. In April of 2004 his shop opened and my “Woodie” was flat bed towed into the shop as the first “customer”. The disassembly was started, which went quickly and was handled very well. The parts were tagged and stored in a methodical way that made me feel good about my choice. During the first year there was pretty good progress, the frame was powder coated and the body pieces bead blasted, straightened and primered. However, that was followed by long delays, excuses and periods of absolutely nothing being done to my car by them while many other cars entered and left the business. It was becoming very clear that I had a frame off restoration that was in boxes and on shelves and no one was doing anything to my car!

In late August of 2006 I received “the call” informing me that the shop had filed bankruptcy and was closing their doors. I was told I had 4 days to collect my “Woodie” which was still in pieces. I made some phone calls and ultimately located a shop that agreed to take on my basketcase. I enlisted the assistance of several friends with trucks and a trailer to relocate my “Woodie” to the next business.

This move was to a shop located in West Los Angeles, CA, named Rod Works Inc. During the next 1½ years they, Jeff Ott and Jerry Lechich took my “pieces” and made them whole again. I kept the original flathead and running gear as it was. My only real alterations were to upgrade to an alternator and 12 volt, add the second tail lamp, turn indicators and seat belts. My wood was beautifully refinished and reinstalled by Richard Machut of Iron Mountain Woodworks in Carson, CA. The seats were upholstered and the carpet installed by Luis Loyola of Loyola Auto Interiors in El Segundo, CA. My body work and paint was flawlessly applied by Javier P. Valencia and staff at Diana’s Auto Body Shop in Culver City, CA. I purchased my top material from LeBaron & Bonney and had it expertly installed by Leonado of Nick Alexander’s Upholstery in Huntington Park, CA.

My 1941 Ford Super Deluxe “Woodie” Station Wagon was completed on March 20, 2008, which was just short of four years. It is now flawlessly good looking from up close, or from a far and a joy to drive. I vow to drive it often and never again allow it to be used for storage or become a home to mice. Finally after 32 years of ownership I can truly enjoy my “Woodie” as it was intended. In less than a month we have been to three car shows and have enjoyed every minute. Also we are offering it for hire for movies, commercials, special events and weddings, of which we have already begun bookings.