Readers Rides

The Humble Station Wagon: The First SUV?

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Station Wagon

By Mark Weisseg

Yes, most of us baby boomers can relate to the station wagon. As kids our parents seem to always have a wagon. We had a nine passenger that the rear seat faced backwards and we thought it was cool to see were we had been. We also had a rear seater that the seat faced forward and one that had a small jump seat facing sideways. The rear window usually cranked down by hand by as we moved up the food chain we had an electric one.

The wagons always had roof racks but I never recall us using it. We did pull an Apache camper and later a Puma camper down the road for our high end vacations. I do recall my brothers sleeping in the back of the wagon at times during our camping trips due to lack of space inside the pop up camper.

Dad liked the big engines with the wagons. His Ford Country Squire had a 390 engine and I recall his Plymouth had a 383. But going way back he had a Mercury Comet wagon with a little six cylinder too. I think Dad regretted that one because it was a small car and lacked power. Even after he retired he called me one day to inform me he bought a new car. I was hoping that he sprung for a big Lincoln or something really nice. Nope, he bought a mid sized Mercury Marquis wagon that had a peppy six cylinder and that car turned out to be his last one. I could not get over the fact that he would buy a wagon long after us kids moved out, he did not have a camper anymore, and quite frankly he had enough money to buy something really cool. But, Dad was not flashy and loved the wagons for the room they provided for storage and said they just road better. It was sad after he passed away and my sister landed up selling the car. Dad kept that car really clean, maintenance was number one and he owned wagons for years. He did break his tradition once and bought a nice a Mercury Monarch with a special package kit. It was an eye catcher and more than once he was stopped at a grocery store and asked about this unique car.

The station wagon goes back a long way in our automotive history. I recall Cadillac station wagons made into ambulances, and of course a hearse. The wagon as the precursor to the mini van that exploded on the scene in 1984 by Chrysler and the Dodge mini van. A great vehicle for hauling kids and all there things as well as a great vehicle for vacations. But, the station wagon started the process and there have been quite a few that were real standouts. One that comes to mind is the Chevy Nomad. Very hard to find today and if you do be prepared to pay dearly for it. The Chevy in the picture I included today is not a Nomad for those of you who are not in the know. Another cool station wagon is the Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser with the glass top up front. I encourage you to go look that one up on Google and you will see how really neat they were.
In closing when I saw a Wagon I think of Dad.
The wagons hauled groceries home, all our sports gear, flip the rear seat up, or flip it down. Plenty of room, plenty of power, and of course I recall Dad looking in the rear view mirror as we drove down the highway and saying “Don’t make me come back there”.

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