- The Washington Times - Friday, December 3, 1999

By design, station wagons are workhorse vehicles and, as such, usually are low-end models. An exception to the rule was the near-luxury 1948 Oldsmobile wood-bodied wagon. Only 553 of the six-cylinder models were produced, each carrying a base price of $2,739.
Lisa Jobe recalls fiberglass surfboards protruding from the open tailgates of wood-bodied wagons near the beach in her hometown of San Marino, Calif. That was long before she married Daniel Jobe.
A few years ago the couple decided that a wood-bodied wagon would be the perfect car for her, an elegant reminder of her roots. Since Mr. Jobe’s grandfather had been an Oldsmobile dealer, the decision of what kind of car to get was made easily.
The relative scarcity of Oldsmobile wagons was the first hurdle the Jobes overcame. In 1948 Oldsmobile offered their wagons in just four colors:
c Black.
c Ambassador red.
c Pawnee buff.
c Ivy green.
The Jobes found a green wagon in New Jersey. The owner sent photographs in which the car appeared in such good condition that they bought it sight unseen in 1997.
The anxious couple had the heavy 3,635-pound car trucked home to Washington, D.C.
When the car with the gorgeous lines was delivered, Mr. Jobe learned the danger of purchasing an antique automobile without seeing it in person. It was all there, but was in need of a total restoration not at all what it had been represented to be.
For the better part of a year the car sat undisturbed as the purchase price was renegotiated. When that detail was ironed out, the Jobes had their acquisition trucked to a restoration shop in Pennsylvania in January 1998.
Unbelievably, all the wood except a single mahogany panel was restored. The replacement panel perfectly matches the other 15 original panels. The interior, including all 2 and 1/2-dozen longitudinal ash slats forming the ceiling, as well as the exterior woodwork was simply refinished.
The 238-cubic-inch, six-cylinder engine is mated to the $175 optional Hydramatic transmission with a shift pattern from the left: Neutral Drive Low Reverse. The engine produces 100 horsepower.
“It takes a bit of time to get it going,” Mrs. Jobe said. The Oldsmobile is loaded with accessories including a rare cadet external sun visor, a dealer-installed option that cost $30.25.
Other thoughtful features on the car are the $94 super deluxe six-tube radio, the $9 windshield washers and the $32 dual-flow heater and defroster. It would have been nice to have the $16 turn signals but on station wagons only the front lights flashed since there was only one taillight. A second one could have been ordered and the car rewired to accommodate rear turn signals.
The single taillight on the left side of the tailgate has a unique design feature that permits the light to swivel as the tailgate is lowered. Even when hauling a load that necessitates having the tailgate down, the combination tail and brake light remains visible from behind.
The 17-foot-long wagon rides on a 119-inch wheelbase supported by 7.60x15-inch B.F. Goodrich Silvertown tires mounted on cream-colored wheels dressed up with stainless steel trim rings. At the center of each hubcap is the stylized Oldsmobile crest that duplicates the similar crest on the engine hood below the chrome ornament trimmed with green plastic inserts.
Both wooden rear quarter panels wrap around the steel rear fenders. The leading edge of each rear finder, of course, is protected by a stainless gravel guard while the wood is left unprotected.
During restoration the four-bar grille was replated along with both bumpers and the bumper guards. The 1948 Oldsmobile was the third and last year of a strange design concept, that of placing the parking lights in the front bumper guards. Naturally, that’s the first part of the car hit in an accident or even during a parallel parking exercise.
Behind the front seat with the rear seat folded flat is a cargo area an inch more than seven feet long. The wagon is rated to carry a half ton of cargo.
The chrome-laden symmetrical dashboard with a 110-mph speedometer is driver-friendly. While behind the deluxe three-spoke steering wheel, Mrs. Jobe said, “I miss chrome on the new cars.” She certainly has no reason to feel shortchanged in this car. Even both inside windshield frames are chrome-plated as is the $5 tilting glare-proof mirror.
If the roll-down windows in the four doors, along with the sliding windows in the cargo area, don’t provide enough ventilation, there’s always the cowl ventilator.
Stretched over the supporting slats of the top, Mr. Jobe had the restoration shop pull a long piece of black vinyl, just like the original builders did 51 years ago. “It’s a beautifully detailed car,” Mr. Jobe is happy to say.
The almost two-year-long restoration was, at long last, complete in November 1999. That’s when Mrs. Jobe first drove her Oldsmobile, proclaiming it “a wonderful car,” especially on sunshiny days like those halcyon days on the beach at San Marino.


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