By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Woody the car began with an inspiration that hit Howard Soine one evening in 1999. He wanted to build a wooden truck.
Howard and Joyce Soine, who live in Belgrade, owned Jimmy’s Pizza in New London at the time. Howard had built a float for his business to use in parades. “I thought I should have something to pull the float with,” he said.
He found a 1982 Chevrolet S10 longbox pickup, and started to modify it, intending to tear it down and move the cab back.
“Then I just commenced putting wood to it,” he said. “It just happened one board at a time; there was no plan.”
While still owning Jimmy’s, the Soines bought out a store with wooden video shelves. “It was knotty pine I couldn’t use any other way, so I sanded it down and used it for the car,” Howard said.
At first, he used the original bumpers and dashboard, but he’s been making changes to the car ever since he started.
“Now, the only things that are original are the chassis, floorboards, firewall and steering column,” said Howard.
Truck bed liner material was used on the roof, running boards and fenders.
Boat latches were used for the hood, and the eagle figurehead on the front came from a cappuccino maker.
Howard came up with the designs for the rest of the parts, which are wood. The chassis is knotty pine. The headlights, turn signals, license plate covers and all of the interior is cedar.
“It took two years to figure out how to make an adjustable set of mirrors,” he said.
Although he does all the woodworking himself, Howard enlists helps from his brothers or a friend for the welding jobs.
When it came time to license Woody, “we couldn’t get Woody 1 or Woody 2,” said Joyce. “Since everyone who comes up to see the car says, ‘O Woody,’ we decided to use that.”
The Soines’ two sons, Troy of Paynesville and Terry of Murdock, have helped with parts of the car. They and their wives and the four grandchildren enjoy riding in Woody.
“It was originally intended for parades, but now we use it as a summer vehicle, a vacation vehicle,” Howard said. “The most fun is just driving it and watching people around us looking and taking pictures.”
Often on the highway, the Soines will see a driver up close behind them to take a photo. The driver then comes alongside and takes more photos, finally moving to the front to take even more photos.
Woody has taken the Soines from Branson, Mo. to Canada and from Montana to Wisconsin. “When driving through North Dakota one time, a guy spotted us who said he’d seen us the summer before in Canada,” said Howard.
Woody gets sheltered quarters for the winter. “It sits in the garage, covered, all winter,” Howard said. “The insurance starts
May 1 and goes through October.”
It’s now easier to ride in Woody in less-than-ideal weather, since Howard recently made doors and windows. Once he and Joyce climb in, the doors are put in place and latched from the inside.
“We’ve been called ‘The Flintstones,’” Joyce said. “We just go and have fun with it.”
Look for Woody at area car shows next summer.