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Various woodie cars of all makes and models will be on display on the San Clemente Pier during the 2017 Ocean Festival this Saturday, July 15, and Sunday, July 16. Photo: Eric Heinz
Various woodie cars of all makes and models will be on display on the San Clemente Pier during the 2017 Ocean Festival this Saturday, July 15, and Sunday, July 16. Photo: Eric Heinz

By Rachael Mattice

Ocean Festival attendees will need to ready their favorite car-song-centric cassettes, CDs or playlists with favorites like the Eagles’ “Ol’ 55,” Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” War’s “Low Rider” and the Beach Boys’ “Surf City” for the 25th anniversary of the Woodie Car Show on the Pier this weekend. Ocean Festival, a South Orange County and surf enthusiast tradition, will showcase these surf culture emblems all weekend long.

Arlene and Gary Button, organizers of the show and members of the Southern California Woodie Club, said 30 different cars from cities across Southern California will be on display for attendees both Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. with a new set each day.

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“We have (woodie cars) coming from as far as Carlsbad, another car from La Cañada Flintridge, another from Upland,” Arlene said. “We get most of the cars from Huntington Beach. That’s where the SoCal Woodie Club is centered, but many locals from San Clemente and Dana Point too.”

Attendees can expect to see woodie cars from various decades as well as different makes and models. With roots that date back to the late 1920s when Ford mass produced the steel-wood-mixed vehicle, these treasured yet high-maintenance vehicles were later produced by multiple other manufacturers such as Mercury, Rolls Royce, DeSoto and even Mini. This year’s festival will feature cars as old as 1928 and as new as 1969.

“The 1948 Chrysler Town and Country is actually a wood-clad convertible,” Gary said. “It’s owned by a local San Clemente person. It’s probably the most expensive woodie there is. It’s a very diversified group of people (who bring their cars to the show at Ocean Festival) and they are as diversified as their cars.”

Historically, woodie cars were used in England for hunting purposes, as well as served surveyors, were used as depot hacks and high end transportation for hotel guests before arriving as a staple with surfers, according to Gary.

“Woodies were big and cumbersome and most people who bought them were wealthier because they had to be maintained and varnished,” Gary said. “Generally, they became discarded and then that’s when the surfer people became aware of them for transporting their boards without hassle. They became a favorite for the surfing crowd and still are today.”

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