The Early Days of Woody Wagons

Hatfiled 1917 Sydney New YorkCortland Cart & Carriage Company

Sidney, New York.: The root DNA of all woody station wagons lies in the history of carriage making just as the automobiles does, as a mode of transportation. While the automobile was a fully fledged transition of a power system, the woody wagon idea was simply a methodical transition of an existing body style co-mingling with the new power system. Across America there were hundreds, if not thousands of carriage makers who serviced communities. Even today, these carriage builders still exist in Amish communities of the north-east.

The greater majority of these carriage builders simply went out of business as Detroit took over the transportation needs of the world. But for a time, there were shops like Cortland Cart & Carriage Company that offered a wide range of station wagon bodies based on any automotive chassis a customer wanted outfitted. Some vehicle models where offered by auto/truck manufacturers using existing associations with body and carriage makers, while others were sold to customers who independently ordered their own bodies for their new truck chassis.

It is notable that the term Suburban was already in common use in 1917 with the Hatfield Model 1 Suburban Car pictured here arrived. Hatfield were an early brass-era car company that started out in New York in 1906 with the Buggyabout and Unique cars, but in 1907 they opened a new production facility in Miamisburg, Ohio, building a series of early automobiles before merging with Kauffman Buggy Company to create the Advanced Motor Vehicle Company.

The Hatfield’s truck line moved on to Elmira, New York and commenced building new trucks under the Hatfield Auto Truck Company banner. Here they picked up with the Cortland Cart & Carriage Company in Sidney, New York to build the bodies for their light-duty truck line. Imagine what it must have been like back 100 years ago, breezing down an unpaved road in this Model 1!  Seated openly on the rear seat over the axle bouncing along in this primitive machine with no protection from the elements – kind of scary! According to the corporate PR at the time, for $875 you got Hatfield’s Model 1 with a spare tire and two rows of seating – Oh my, how times have changed!

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