All this talk about the ’61 Plymouth and station wagons, and what should appear at the Cohort today? A 1960 Suburban DeLuxe Wagon. But don’t let the name t fool you; nothing deluxe here; it’s the stripper of the family. As such, it may well have the brand new “30-D Economy Six” (225 CID slant six), which might well be teamed up with the new TorqueFlite 6 three-speed automatic. In both cases, it was a big improvement over the venerable flathead six and two-speed PowerFlite automatic in 1959. And of course its sporting its new unibody construction, which resulted in more head and legroom, as well as a decidedly tighter structure. Good bones for a big wagon; just the thing for a big family in 1960. If you can overlook the big fins, which are easy to forgive once one slips behind that wild squarer steering wheel and dash.
There was one of these in my neighborhood in Iowa City, the family of a schoolmate. They lived near school, so they had no use for it during the week, as the dad walked to the university. It just sat under its carport, but I never failed to look at it and inside it through the windows, just like I do new, with my camera. How could I not; this had one of the wildest dashes and steering wheel ever, for a low end car.
It’s almost surreal. The height of Googie design. It was pushing it in 1960, by 1962 or so, it was already hopelessly out of date.
I’m not too sure about the optional swivel front seats; I’m afraid my father might have had issues with them. He didn’t take to new-fangled mechanical things well, like electric can openers.
I did get to ride in a similar one, a new ’64 Dodge 880 wagon bought new by some friends of us. It was essentially the same under the skin, minus the fins and wild dash. I’ll never forget the first time I got in, and saw the floor-shifted three speed stick. That just blew me away. A standard three speed floor shifter for a giant station wagon? So 1930s; but it reappeared for a few years on the ’61-64 Chryslers and the 880.
The bottom line is: these were big, inside and out. I don’t have time to dig up all the interior dimensions, but I would guess these were bigger inside than the comparable Chevy and Ford wagons. Their unibodies certainly gave them better seating/leg room than the other two, with their awkward frames in the way.
Not a great shot of the front, but then it’s not its best end, something it shared with the ’61. But for hauling a big family in 1960, it was undoubtedly the objectively best choice. Unfortunately for Chrysler, buyers were not nearly objective enough.