Back when I was a school boy in England in the fifties I was asked a question by my schoolmaster one day. He was not a schoolmaster to be trifled with, he was a Scotsman. And he was not just any Scotsman, this Scots schoolmaster carried a cane tucked into his trouser waistband ready to be drawn like a cavalry officer’s saber and wielded on the hapless rear of any school boy who happened to upset his equanimity. So when he asked me “what British industry is the greatest user of wood?” I, quite reasonably I thought, answered “the furniture industry sir” imagining myself to be right. “Wrong” he bellowed. “It is the car industry”. All of us in the room were perplexed. We knew what cars were made of. I certainly did, I went to the Motor Show at Earl’s Court every year. I’d looked under many a bonnet and in all the visible nooks and crannies one could find in a car. Some cars, like the Facel Vega and Rolls Royce had beautiful wood dashboards, but in most of the rest there was no wood to be found. However, this was not a teacher to be questioned. So none of us dared to. This was the teacher who also taught us French. The result being that I can to this day conjugate French verbs with a perfect Scottish accent.
Years later I discovered that, had we been considering pre-war cars (as in pre- World War II) our dour Scots schoolmaster was in fact correct. The pre-war car industry was in fact the greatest user of wood. Most cars of the twenties and thirties had wooden frames. That changed post-war, but not in the mind of my schoolmaster.
Wonderfully there is still one motor car company that still use a plentiful amount of wood in each and every car they make. That company is of course Morgan.
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.