Station wagons are not inherently cool—that’s aloof a hard, algid reality. Plus, excepting Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagons from a brace of ancestors ago, no avant-garde examples are accessible with a accessible third-row bank for the kids, as that’s what SUVs are allegedly for nowadays. Not to mention, aback it comes to abundant American abject wagons, well, diesels are not the least-bit air-conditioned anymore.
But American abject wagons from the mid-1910s, aback Ford offered a wood-bodied adaptation of its Archetypal T primarily as a train-station shuttle, to about the mid-1970s, had their own affectionate of kitschy-Americana cool. And afterwards World War II, best came with able eight-cylinder engines.
In accustomed times, we’d be cerebration about summer vacation analysis appropriate about now, and any of these 10 American abject wagons would be absolute for the retro-REI camping cruise or cruise to the basin of your dreams. Think pre-World War II artery trips on Route 66, or Eisenhower-to-Ford-era trips on the Interstate, ancestors trips to the beach, camping, or to the rural cabin.
Special acknowledgment to Old Car Brochures/The Old Car Chiral Project for absolution us use its best new-car advertisement art featured in this list, and for the assets and fact-checking abstracts in the argument of those catalogs. Its sites, www.oldcarbrochures.org and www.oldcarmanualproject.com, action alluring diversions account hours of your time amid calm assignment assignments.
Make your comments and criticisms of my account on Twitter at @AM_Lassa. Which wagons accept I larboard out? Actuality are my choices for the 10 coolest American abject wagons to drive for this summer’s abstract vacation.
1937 Ford V-8 Abject Wagon
American automakers farmed-out abject wagon accumulation to suppliers until the mid-1960s, but in 1936, Ford opened its own wagon bulb in Iron Mountain, Michigan. That factory, in the state’s High Peninsula, acclimated raw actual from “its all-inclusive balk operations abreast Basin Superior,” according to David Traver Adolphus’s article, “The American Woody,” in the September 2005 affair of Hemmings Classic Car. The Iron Mountain branch alien accomplished board bodies to Ford’s accumulation plants about North America. Amount was $755, according to “The Accepted Catalog of American Cars.”
Riding on a 112-inch wheelbase, with 3-2-3, eight-passenger seating, the 1937 Ford V-8 Abject Wagon offered best of a 60-horsepower or an 85-hp, 221 cubic-inch (3.6L) V-8, and its banker brochure, abstracted from the brand’s abounding calendar booklet, accurately describes the bazaar these cars sought. “For alteration a weekend affair to the yacht, to the stables, the lodge, or to the cottage by the seashore, it is ideal aback it enables the affair to biking en masse, demography food with them in comfort.”
1942 Chrysler Boondocks & Country Car
A analytical mix of Art Deco and Martha’s Vineyard berth styling, the Boondocks & Country became a basic over the abutting three decades of upper-middle chic suburbs. It was the array of wagon you ability buy if alike a well-equipped Ford V-8 could no best accommodated your needs and desires. Chrysler accustomed the ’42 Boondocks & Country as “the alone abject wagon with an all-steel automotive-type top.”
It was aloof a beard best than 217 inches, and about 75-inches wide, on a 121.5-inch wheelbase. The Boondocks & Country could bank up to nine passengers, with its abetting centermost jump seat. Height, apparently afterwards the another baggage rack, was 68 inches, aloof 1.3-inches abbreviate of a avant-garde Jeep Grand Cherokee’s. The roofline predicted the “coupe-style” SUVs that would appear forth in addition 75 years. Agent was a 120-hp, 250.6 cubic-inch (4.1L) inline-six, accompanying to a fluid-drive semi-automatic transmission. “The Accepted Catalog” does not accept a amount for this wagon, admitting the ’42 Boondocks & Country auto amount $1,520.
1949 Buick Estate Wagon
Ionia Manufacturing in the eponymous boondocks in Michigan congenital wagon bodies mostly for the assorted General Motors divisions, but additionally for Ford, Mercury, and Chrysler, afore and afterwards WWII. Buick’s 1949 models—Roadmaster, Super, and Special—were all-new for the aboriginal time aback the war, and Ionia congenital wagon bodies for the top-two models. The top-spec Roadmaster wagon was 214.5-inches connected on a 126-inch wheelbase, and the Super was 209.5-inches connected on a 121-inch wheelbase. The Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon came with a 150-hp, 320 cubic-inch (5.2L) straight-eight and accepted Dynaflow two-speed automated transmission. The Super Estate Wagon had a 248 cubic-inch (4.1L) I-8, rated for 115 hp with the accepted three-speed manual, and 120 hp with the another Dynaflow.
These Buicks were two-row, six-passenger vehicles, and like the ’42 Chrysler, they featured a clamshell-style tailgate. The rear bank bench bankrupt bottomward like abounding of today’s SUV seats, with the beanbag folding advanced into the rear footwell and the seatback folding flat. The advertisement suggests “Sleep area you stop: Carry forth an air mattress, and aback you appetite to stop—presto!–sleeping quarters.” Abject amount was $3,176 for the Super, and $3,734 for the Roadmaster, according to “The Accepted Catalog of American Cars,” our appraisement antecedent throughout this story.
1955 Pontiac Star Arch Custom Safari
The 1955-57 Safari was Pontiac’s adaptation of the Chevrolet Nomad, which additionally ran for those three years, as a adventurous two-door, two-row abject wagon, priced at the top of the archetypal lineup.
Both cars were aggressive by the 1954 Chevy Corvette Nomad Motorama car, a two-seat two-door wagon, and conceivably alike added than the ’42 Chrysler Boondocks & Country, these absolutely were precursors to such avant-garde models as the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLC and GLE Coupes.
This is audible from American two-door sedan-style wagons marketed as handyman account cars in the ’50s, accepted connected afore everybody collection auto trucks. The two-door Safari was 202.9-inches long, 75.4-inches wide, with a avant-garde crossover vehicle-like acme of 61 inches, and it came with a 180-hp two-barrel, or 200-hp four-barrel 287 cubic-inch (4.7L) V-8, accompanying to a three-on-the-tree or a Hydra-Matic four-speed automated transmission. Account amount was $3,124, the alone ’55 Pontiac abject amount beyond $3,000
After 1957, the Safari nameplate was absorbed to the Bonneville, Executive, Catalina and LeMans wagons through the ’60s and ’70s.
1956 Rambler Cross Country
George Romney, arch of the anew formed American Motors Corp., approaching Michigan governor, and bootless applicant for the 1968 GOP presidential nomination, shuttered Hudson not connected afterwards it alloyed with Nash-Kelvinator in 1954. The actual Rambler marque connected to action smaller, analytic sized cars as the big three offered prairie schooners almost 205- to 220-inches long. The Cross Country was 193.6 inches on a 108-inch wheelbase, and was 71.3 inches advanced and 58.6 inches tall. Its 195.6 cubic-inch (3.2L) six fabricated 120 hp and 170 lb-ft. It was a two-row, six-passenger wagon, with “airliner” absolutely collapsed advanced seats and a jumpsuit tailgate.
But what fabricated this Rambler so freaking air-conditioned was its anatomy style, a four-door pillarless auto abject wagon, the aboriginal in the U.S. industry. GM had aloof alien its aboriginal four-door hardtops a year beforehand with the 1955 Olds 88 and Buick Century. In case that’s not enough, analysis out the woodgrain applique on the blooming Cross Country, which looks like it could be pulled off the abandon of the car and addled over to accomplish a aces Mid-Century Avant-garde coffee table. Abject price, $2,326.
1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta/Buick Century Caballero Riviera
See a arrangement here? To me, four-door hardtops are alike added evocative of Mid-Century American automobilia than abject wagons, and aback you amalgamate the two, I aloof can’t resist. Ionia Manufacturing congenital the Olds and Buick auto wagons for aloof two archetypal years, catastrophe with 1958, but the over-the-top, backward Harley Earl-era administration absolutely makes them angle out. (The ’58 models, which added bifold headlamps, got added with chunky-looking, channelled sheetmetal and bags of added chrome.) The Buick was accessible with two or three rows for six or nine passengers, and offered disconnected additional row seats, while the Olds was accessible as a two-row, six-passenger car only. Tailgate was a two-piece, clamshell design.
Ford’s Mercury analysis additionally fabricated four-door auto best wagons, the Country Cruiser series, for the 1957-60 archetypal years.
The Olds Super 88 Fiesta came with a 277-hp, 400-lb-ft 371 cubic-inch (6.1L) V-8, accompanying to either a three-on-the-tree or Jetaway Hydra-Matic two-speed automatic. The Buick Century Caballero Riviera had a 300-hp, 400-lb-ft, 364-cubic-inch (6.0L) V-8 and accepted Dynaflow automatic. A cheaper Special Caballero Riviera was available, with a 250-hp, 380-lb-ft 264 (4.3L) V-8 and best of chiral or Dynaflow. Oldsmobile (1957 abject price): $3,017-$3,220; Buick (1957 abject price): $3,167-$3,831
1960 Chrysler Boondocks & Country
Chrysler didn’t alike action a b-post abject wagon another to the New Yorker Boondocks & Country and Windsor Boondocks & Country aback they premiered in the 1960 archetypal year. New Yorker Boondocks & Countrys were America’s best celebrated assembly abject wagons from the 1950s to the aboriginal ’80s.
The ’60 New Yorker Boondocks & Country was powered by a 350-hp, 413-cubic-inch (6.8L) V-8, and was 219.6-inches long, on a 126-inch wheelbase. The entry-level Chrysler Windsor Boondocks & Country, powered by a 305-hp 383-cubic-inch (6.3L) V-8, was 215.4-inches long, on a 122-inch wheelbase. Both cars came with a pushbutton Torqueflite automatic, standard, and offered another rear-facing third-row seats.
Chrysler’s 1964 wagons were the aftermost accessible as four-door hardtops. Within a few years, all pillarless hardtops, whether two-door, four-door or wagon, appear beneath accumulative analysis in ablaze of the Ralph Nader-sparked assurance movement. Wagons in accurate are affected to rollover drove because of connected rooftops afterwards able vertical pillars, which is why avant-garde three-row wagons are adamantine to find. The commuter areas charge stiff, almost blubbery roof structures that eat up third-row space, so the taller bodies begin on SUVs are added all-around of three-row seating. Abject price: $3,691 (Windsor Boondocks & Country); $5,212 New Yorker Boondocks & Country.
1963 Studebaker Lark Wagonaire
Famed automated artist Brook Stevens advised a sliding roof console as a affectionate of mid-cycle amend for the new-for-1960 Studebaker Lark wagon. It opened the top from aloof abaft the attenuate c-pillar, to the back. The abstraction was you could booty home alpine items, say, a new Sears Kenmore refrigerator, placed cocked on the burden floor. We apprehend at atomic a few of these were hooned aback in the day, with additional or third owners “surfing” in back. Added than four decades afterwards the Wagonaire’s introduction, GMC affected the abstraction for the Envoy XUV SUV.
The Wagonaires were accessible in Regal or upmarket Daytona trim levels, offered with a 112-hp 169.6-cubic-inch (2.8L) six, a 180-hp 259-cubic-inch (4.2L) V-8, a 210-hp 289-cubic-inch (4.7L) V-8, or a supercharged 289 rated for 289 horsepower.
According to our accompany at Motor Trend, Studebaker congenital aloof 15 such ’63 Lark Wagonaires with this closing R2 agent package. It additionally offered them with a four-speed manual, as able-bodied as three-speed chiral or automatic. It was 190.3-inches connected and 57-inches tall, on a 113-inch wheelbase, and accessible alone as a two-row, six-passenger car. The jumpsuit tailgate was, obviously, hinged at the bottom.
Studebaker confused assembly from South Bend, Indiana, to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, afterwards the 1963 archetypal year, and accomplished business afterwards the ’66 archetypal year. Abject amount ambit (’63): $2,550-2,700.
1964 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser/1965 Buick Sportwagon
If you can’t accept a pillarless hardtop, why not a Vista Roof (Olds) or Skyroof (Buick)? The ’64 archetypal year was the aftermost in which Ionia Manufacturing congenital Olds and Buick full-size wagons. These two centralized accumulated cars about replaced them.
While the Vista Cruiser and Sportwagon aggregate their bodywork advanced of c-pillars with the F-85/Cutlass and Special/Skylark, respectively, both were longer, on bigger body-on-frame platforms than the F-85 and Special wagons. The ’64 Olds Vista Cruiser was 208-inches connected on a 120-inch wheelbase, against 203 inches on a 115-inch wheelbase for the F-85 wagon, and the Sportwagon and Special wagons had agnate dimensions. With their Vista/Skyroofs, the Olds was 58.3-inches tall, and the Buick 57.5-inches tall.
Engines were a 230-hp or 290-hp 330-cubic-inch (5.4L) V-8 for the Vista Cruiser, and a 210-hp or 250-hp 300-cubic-inch (4.9L) Wildcat V-8 for the Sportwagon. Both were offered in two- and three-row variations.
Obviously aggressive by the Volkswagen 19-window Microbus (which went to 21 windows for ’64), the Vista Cruiser’s Vista roof survived four iterations through the ’72 archetypal year. The ’73 Vista Cruiser had alone a baby sunroof and was on GM’s new Colonnade A-bodies. Buick acclimated the Skyroof from the 1965 to ’69 archetypal years, admitting the Sportwagon name lasted through 1972. Oldsmobile (1964 abject price): $2,938-$3,122; Buick (1965 abject price): $2,925-$3,214.
1966 Ford Country Squire
Ford alleged itself The Wagonmaster in those days, and I’m singling out the ’66 archetypal because it was the aboriginal with the Magic Doorgate. The jumpsuit tailgate with ability window was hinged so that it could accessible like a accepted tailgate, or like a door, with an high and lower articulation on the driver’s side.
The third-row advantage was different to Fords and Mercurys in this era, with dual-facing rear seats. If you could fit two kids on anniversary side, voila, you had a 10-passenger wagon.
But the full-size Ford wagons were all-new for 1965, aback both Ford and GM full-size models were absolutely redesigned, demography a big architecture bound over the ’64s. The vinyl woodgrain-paneled Ford Country Squire, with its LTD autogenous and exoteric trim, became the poster-car for cul-de-sac burghal America.
The ’66 Ford Country Squire was 210.9 inches on a 119-inch wheelbase and was 79-inches advanced and a low-ish 56.7-inches tall. The ’66 Country Squire’s agent options included 289 (4.7L), 352 (5.8L), 390 (6.4L) and 428 (7.0L) V-8s alignment from 200-345 hp. Heyday for the Ford Country Squire lasted until the mid-’70s. Abject amount ambit (1966): $3,289-$3,372.
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