Ride down memory lane in a wood mobile

This 1982 Mercury Grand Marquis covered in wood is one of the unique treasures on display at the Pine County History Museum in Askov.


“I remember grandpa didn’t want to drive too fast because he didn’t want the hubcaps to fly off,” said Joel Hogberg. The 36 year old often rode in parades as a child with his grandparents in their one of a kind car. Joel is the grandson of Marvin C. and Gladys Johnson, the creators of the “woodmobile”. 

“We had fun doing it,” said Gladys. “Everyone asked, why in the world did you build a wooden car.” 

Joel said his grandpa was inspired to build the wooden car after seeing a wooden go-kart car at the state fair.

Josh Hoberg remembers when his grandpa purchased the 1982 Mercury Grand Marquis.

The outside of the entire car is covered with wood, including details such as the grill, door handles and hubcaps. 

“He tried to glue wood to the car but quickly realized that wouldn’t work,” said Josh, 39. Marvin was the owner/operator of Marvin C. Johnson Construction in Bruno until he retired. Once he retired he decided to take on a project of building a wooden car.

According to 1993 stories in the Pine County Courier and Askov American newspapers, Marvin spent $1,000 to purchase the car and about 300 hours to create it. He used 450 feet of three-fourths pine board with tongue and groove and covered it with three coats of polyurethane. It took roughly 850 sheet rock screws. Marvin carved screw buttons to cover them. The addition of the wood added about 500 pounds to the car. 

Joel said he spent time at the garage watching his grandpa work on the project. 

“He put in hundreds of hours and thought of all of the details, from the Grand Marquis name emblem to the tiny pieces of the grill,” said Joel. He said he watched his grandma gluing all of the little wooden buttons onto the screw holes. 

The 93 year old chuckled as she remembered her husband’s retirement project. 

“It was quite the conversation piece,” Gladys said. She said they enjoyed driving the car in many parades over the years. 

The brothers remember their grandpa blasting out Alan Jackson’s song, Mercury Blues, as he drove in the parades.

The family kept the tradition alive after Marvin passed away in 2000. 

“It was an honor and a privilege to drive the car in parades after Marv passed away,” said Dave Hogberg, Marvins son-in-law. “Whenever I took the car out, people would always comment with a memory or question about the car.”

Gladys donated the car to the Pine County Historical Museum in Askov roughly 10 years ago, with the blessing of her children. 

“When I heard the wooden car would be displayed at the museum, I knew it was the perfect place for it,” said Josh. “My two boys (ages 4 and 6) have visited great grandpa Marv’s car several times and love to listen to Great Grandma Gladys tell how it was made.”

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