Wood paneling has a long and interesting history in the automotive industry. It was first used on cars in the 1930s as a way to add a touch of luxury to high-end vehicles. The original woodgrain was actually real wood that was used to decorate the exterior of the car, typically on the doors, fenders, and running boards. It is believed that the use of wood was also to save precious steel during wartime.
However, real wood had some serious drawbacks. It was expensive, difficult to maintain, and prone to rot and decay over time. As a result, car manufacturers began to look for alternatives.
In the 1950s and 1960s, car makers started to experiment with simulated woodgrain made from vinyl. This material was much easier to work with, less expensive, and more durable than real wood. It also allowed for more intricate designs and patterns.
The popularity of vinyl woodgrain on cars reached its peak in the 1970s, when it became a defining feature of the "station wagon" or "estate car" style. These family-oriented vehicles featured woodgrain decal material on the sides and back, giving them a distinctive and nostalgic look that is still iconic today.
However, by the 1980s and 1990s, the trend had begun to fade. Automobile manufacturers began to shift away from the boxy, family-friendly station wagon and towards sleeker, more modern designs. Woodgrain trim was seen as outdated and no longer in line with the sleek, high-tech look that many car makers were going for.
Today, woodgrain is still used on some cars as a design element, but it is much less common than it was in the past. However, it remains a beloved and iconic part of automotive history, and many car enthusiasts still appreciate the unique and nostalgic look of woodgrain on vintage vehicles.