'Crazy idea' results in eye-popping automobiles

May. 09, 2014 @ 09:08 AM

To see the sun hit the rich cedar and pine, blazing with each tone of creamy yellow and rich red, it takes a while to register what you're really looking at, and after walking up to it, closely examining the seams and curves, it takes a step back and a chin-scratch before you ask, "So this is all real wood?"

The answer is yes, and it just begs more questions. Where are all the nails and screws? Who built it? How did he shape and bend the wood? Was he working from plans? And why would you decide to make a car out of wood?

But Michael Teague didn't just make a car out of wood. He made three -- or a car and two trucks, to be exact.

“It was just a crazy idea,” Teague said, one that popped in his head nearly nine years ago and never left. Teague, who lives in Alexander County, has worked with wood and in the furniture business “basically all my life,” and it shows in the vehicles he built.

“It’s a lot of work, but people enjoy them,” he said.

The first wooden vehicle Teague built was a panel truck, made of pine. It was a Toyota chassis and engine, and took him more than two years to build, working on nights and weekends, at a cost of about $5,000 to $6,000 for materials.

His most recent one also was a panel truck made of pine, but on an all-Dodge base.

Jeannie Teague Dawson of Lenoir, Teague's daughter, has the car he made between making the trucks. It is made of cedar and designed to look like an antique car, built on the shortened chassis of a mid-'80s Toyota truck and equipped with a V8 Chrysler 318 engine. It has custom upholstery and power windows. Dawson drives it every now and then to cruise-ins and on joyrides.

“It makes me feel very blessed and special to know that we have something so unique,” Dawson said. “We meet a lot of people with a lot of different opinions, but it’s fun.”

Many people think it’s not actually made of wood but is a printed covering, or if they believe it's wood they think it was made from flooring, but one thing’s for sure – it’s an attention-getter, so much so that it could be dangerous.

“You have to be very careful when you’re driving down the road because of people taking pictures and video,” Dawson said. “Most people are just amazed at the craftsmanship of it.”

Curious to the car’s weight, Dawson took it to Southern States in Lenoir before that store closed. It's 3,400 pounds, about the same as an ordinary small car.

Teague said that with each of the three, the design and style was whatever popped up in his mind, and then he just had to make it.

One of these days, he said, he’ll probably start on a new one. But right now, with spring breaking, it’s time to be outside – enjoying the weather from the driver’s seat of a special car.