Revamped 1947 Woodie seeks new home…

In Malibu, my job (among many things) is to seek out cool cars, waiting like a cobra in the grass to pounce on awesomeness.

But, sometimes, being the patient cobra that I am, I can get restless and be forced to slither my way around town to scoop curvaceous sheet metal. And one of the places to wind through is Malibu Car Wash and Detail.

Pictured here is owner Justin Silvers with a smokin’ hot 1947 Ford Woodie wagon. Although this car doesn’t belong to Justin, he put me in touch (via email) with passionate owner Gerard Cappello.    

As an investment banker, Cappello has been financing growing companies and energy projects since 1984, but also spent 10 years developing custom homes and running a sustainable real estate consulting firm, specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. Whoa, that’s a mouthful, and I should know since I’m a cobra in this here article.

But the bottom line is that Cappello’s success has allowed him to acquire coolness of the vehicular sort. But let’s hear it from him, shall we?

“The woodie was originally a junked and decaying 1947 Ford,” starts Cappello. “It took close to a decade to rebuild it to its current state.

“Starting from the ground up (due to the severity of the rusted metal), I started with a new chassis built by Chubby Chassis.”

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say their cars were phat. See, that’s funny, because they’re called Chubby Chassis. OK, whatever.

“All the corresponding sheet metal was replaced (due to rust) as well as the four fenders and hood (which were stolen while being restored and painted at a shop in Lancaster).”


Cappello ordered a wood kit built out of maple and ash from Cincinnati Woodworks and had it fitted to the frame by Accurate Woodworks in Morgan Hill.

“The electrical and final assembly/construction was done by Van Emblem of the Fat Fendered Street Rod Shop,” he said. “It was his last woodie before retiring and his work included A/C, new wiring, install of a Chevy 350 V-8 (I know, it’s a bit of sacrilege), and arranging for a custom hand-painted dashboard that now matches the interior wood doors. Wanda of San Bernardino hot rod interior fame did the upholstery, so it’s basically a new car that looks like an old woodie!”

Bam, done — and nicely done, I might add. But since California is full of woodies in all conditions, the only things that really separate them are the stories.

For Cappello, who was born and raised in Southern California (a third-generation Californian), cars have always been his obsession, and woodies have been an obsession since 1961.

The best part of the car?

“I love sitting behind the wheel and enjoy the chrome and wood grain painted dashboard framing the views of Malibu as I drive down PCH,” he said. “The looks, air high-fives and Shaka Brah signs I get from strangers as I drive by never ceases to put a smile on my face. Hard to have a bad day driving that car around town.”

But alas, as Cappello has owned many cars, he’s putting the woodie up for sale to make room for more dream machines.

“Now that my kids are all grown (my Labrador, Kona, is the most consistent passenger) and I’m alone, I’m looking to sell to someone who may be able to use her to make new memories and perhaps bring joy to another family as she did to mine,” he explains.

As always, let’s wrap up this Ride of the Week with some Malibu love. Cappello expresses it perfectly.

“I love the friendliness of the locals and also think that on most weekends in Malibu (even when traffic is heavy), PCH is full of people looking for signs of the California dream,” he said. “Sunshine, warm beaches, surfing, bikinis and, of course, woodie wagons!

“There’s a lot more smiles per capita here than anywhere in LA, and people seem to appreciate cars like this.”

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