Ride of the Week: Daniel Dews’ Woodie Masterpiece

Ahhh, Christmastime is upon us — a time of cheer, goodwill and giving. 

So, with all of this going on, why are some people so blue? And what can we do here in the ’Bu to cheer them up? I have just the answer.

A woodie. Seriously. No one — and I mean no one — can look at a woodie and be sad. What people fail to realize is that within woodies are secret happy ingredients that penetrate all sadness like ammonia penetrates grease. Like water penetrates my roof. Like chocolate penetrates my desire to not have dessert. It’s foolproof.

So, it’s with sincere gratitude that I present to you a present in the form of Daniel Dews’ 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster woodie. 

There, don’t you already feel amazingly awesome? I can see the hairs standing up where you didn’t have hair before.

And this proves that woodies are magical beasts like unicorns. Only made of wood. And, a few other things, but without the horns. OK, where was I? 

Ah! Dews’ woodie — and why it’s awesome. As a 46-year varnishing vet, Dews spent decades restoring yachts in Marina Del Rey to the point where his finish became unlike anyone else’s.

And if you hit the Malibu Christmas Woodie Parade, you’d have noticed that Dews basically sold his soul to the varnishing devil, because his woodie is epic. 

And although it’s a ’48, it’s got a ’53 straight six motor. But, who cares, ’cause it’s all about the varnish, baby. I mean, you could eat Taquitos and guacamole off the wood, then see yourself smiling as you licked it clean. (Too visual?) Anyway, let’s hear from the master varnisher aka Captain SuperVarnish himself.

“I found this car in San Pedro 11 years ago,” Dews states. “And since the Beach Boys made the woodie famous in their surf music and I was in Hawthorne High School, which was home to the Beach Boys, I grabbed it. I love the beauty of these lovely vehicles. Lovely, lovely pieces of furniture.” 

Only a woodworker would say such a thing. Maybe he forgot to notice it was a car? Maybe he just wanted a driveable house? Maybe we should move on? 

“I enjoy going to car shows,” he continues. “But when I got the car, I went to work immediately on the wood finish. I stripped off the old varnish and sanded the wood down. Then [I] stained all of it by applying 40+ coats of marine varnish. I have close to 750 hours in this finish. Whew!”

I’m pretty sure I would have stopped around coat 12, but not Captain Varnish! 

But only part of the woodie culture is the build. The second half is the feeling behind driving a piece of art. And that, my friends, is what woodies are: art. In every way a car can be.

So, spending a bit of time with the woodie club allowed people to meander like it was an art exhibit in the Louvre. (Imagine, the Louvre having a woodie exhibit!)

Dews’ love for woodies obviously didn’t stop at the build, as he and the Santa Barbara Woodie Club now peruse the coast in search of beach breaks to display, hang and swap stories.

Much like it was back in the day during my time at C-Street in Ventura. Beach tunes, fire pits, nighttime football under headlights and the sound of the surf. Oh, and surfing of course.

Still with me? Still sad? I think not. And that, my friends, is the magic of the woodie and why these pieces of art not only still exist to bring joy, but to cruise PCH in search of present moments in time that harken back to joyous beach moments.

If you ever get down, just think of a woodie and wait for your smile to return. Then, be grateful that there are those out in the world like Captain SuperVarnish who take the time to make SoCal safe and enjoyable. 

Happy holidays, folks!

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