shot and posted by Jerome Solberg
I know I’ve sometimes given the impression of not being a big fan of ’71-’72 big Fords, but there are ways to serve them up to make them much more palatable to me, like this ’72 wagon. Delicious!
Its low and long anti-CUV stance has been accentuated thanks to shorter springs. The Di-Noc planking has bleached perfectly to match the yellow paint. Is that a coincidence, or is the yellow somehow bleeding through? And those side outlet exhausts, cut into the rear lower quarter panel: Perfect! The wheels are excellent too. What’s not to like?
Here’s a not-quite-close-enough look at one of those side exhaust outlets. That’s an inspired modification. The Di-Noc suggests this car has spent a bit of time under the California sun. As does the lack of rust.
What’s that chrome rail inside the rearmost side mirror? I don’t remember those. I do remember driving some new 1971 Country Squires during my car jockey days; they were impressive behemoths. They pretty much all came with the optional 400 CID V8; good thing, as the 351 felt a bit overworked in these at the time. Hard to imagine a 5.8 L V8 feeling taxed, but by 1971, emission controls were really putting a ding into the former zing. And the ones I drove were straight off the car carrier; they all were given a final tune-up in the new car prep area. That helped a bit in some cases; others not really so.
It’s even got yellow headlights to match: ka-ching! And there’s some genuine rust on the top of the front bumper. Ford’s chrome wasn’t quite up to their usual quality standards?
Towson Ford had a huge storage lot out in Cockeysville, maybe 5-7 miles north of their showroom in Towson on York Road. That was enough time to get a feel for these, under ideal conditions: there were no curves to speak off. Just red lights and some hills, enough to judge the “Total Performance” of Ford’s offerings. The 400 moaned quietly, but it managed to put the big Fords in the “slightly better than average” category—in my book anyway—for straight line acceleration. But the drive to their remote body shop was another thing altogether, through very curvy Falls road. Let’s not ruin this by talking about handling; I’m enjoying looking at this wagon too much.
In retrospect, lounging in these long low cars, with that acreage of hood in front, floating down York Road at well over the speed limit, the whole experience now seems other-wordly. No wonder I drive an xB; it’s the polar opposite of this in every way imaginable.
The steel filler panel between the bumper gap and the grille was mild steel sheet metal and painted body color, so it often rusted, particularly as a horizontal surface where water could remain in contact with the surface for a long time.
I like wagons, having grown up in that era, and in my mind, the full-size Fords were the epitome of the breed. I’ve always thought that if I had the money to start a car collection (after hitting the lottery, for example), I’d include one of these bad boys in my collection, suitably resto-modded, of course. With a big motor and a suitable Class III frame-mounted trailer hitch, one of these beasts could tow over ten-thousand pounds! I’d add an aftermarket frame, with an Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) and Rack & Pinion steering, along with suitable powertrain upgrades (fuel injection and electronic ignition, along with an upgraded transmission) to really make this beast a true Grand Touring machine!
P.S. At one point, I seem to recall that most of these had the 428 FE V8, and later, the 429/460 “385” motor as the top engine choice on the option list, which, as I recall, was mandatory if either air conditioning or the trailer towing package was ordered. The trailer towing package included “heavy duty” shocks and springs, sometimes with rear air shocks that could be adjusted by filling them with air through a Schraeder valve on the rear bumper, to compensate for heavy loads or the trailer tongue weight. The package also included engine oil and transmission fluid coolers, dual side rearview mirrors, the aforementioned frame mounted trailer hitch and a wiring harness connector to connect the trailer turn signals and stop lamps to the car’s electrical system. A lower axle ratio, sometimes with a limited-slip differential, was also part of the package, to aid acceleration from a stop while towing a heavy trailer, at the expense of a lower top speed, which would never be an issue as the heavy trailer would ensure that top speeds would be greatly reduced in any case.
The standard engine on these, with or without A/C, was the 351. There were two towing packages available, both requiring the 400 or 429 as a mandatory option. As Paul said, most had the 400. The 429 was a rarity, the take rate being less than 10%.
Growing up, our primary family car was a basic light green 1972 Ford Country Sedan (no wood trim) modestly-equipped with the standard 351 2-barrel and automatic transmission. It was a competent hauler that soldiered-on for 10 hard years and well over 100K miles without any problems or complaints.
My dad’s employer had several Country Sedans of the same vintage, primarily used for hauling heavy castings and supplies, and outfitted with every trailer-towing and heavy duty option that Ford made available. One of these company cars appeared to be identical to our family car (the same light green color and trim) – except that it had the 429 V8.
Without a load in the back, you could burn rubber at will with that car!
Surprising that the dark vinyl interior survived the sun when the Dinoc didn’t. Also surprising that all-bright-metal window frames weren’t more popular, then or now.
At 16, I drove my Scoutmaster’s ’72 CS for a few miles on a campout. The steering was frighteningly numb, and then there was the rim horn to worry about. Our ’56 Olds had a lot of play in the steering wheel, but at least you could feel what the wheels were doing.
I’m guessing that hood ornament was added later. Did the ’71 Eldorado restart that fad in the US, along with opera windows and then landau roofs in ’72? Odd that such a frumpy, retro design would be a trendsetter, when the striking previous generation wasn’t, outside of the Toronado.
What’s that chrome rail inside the rearmost side
Are you talking about the top edge of the side-facing 3rd row seats? The thing on the passenger side is a later addition.
I didn’t remember Dinoc in the back window air deflector, as seen in the ad.
Wow, this thing looks tired!
Had a 68 w/390, a 74 w/351w & a 79 w/351w. They were all Country Sedans (wasn’t a big fan of the ‘still in the crate’ look). All of them awesome cars for whatever you needed it for. Family outings, hunting trips, towing various trailers, getting groceries or just hopping around town. I miss all of them. Seems like the closest vehicle to a good old station wagon today is a Ford Flex.
I think it’s quite possible the side exhaust mod was done earlier than the lowered springs and other “cosmetic” enhancements and for more pragmatic reasons…exhaust fumes were a common complaint of passengers in those rear(and side-) facing seats.
I remember when one of my junior high friend’s parents upgraded their ‘65 Fairlane wagon to a Country Squire. Yellow with woodgrain just like this one, and only a mile or two from where this photo was taken. But that was a ‘68 so it can’t be this same car 🙁. I loved the third row seat and that dual mode tailgate. My own family’s 122S wagon seemed spartan, even agricultural, by comparison.
Don’t know much about wagons, but in early 80s, I bought a 72 LTD convert. Body was same yellow. Overall was in great shape except for convertible top and drivers seat. Both were taken care of by a local glass and trim shop. Try finding one of those today! 😅. That huge Cruiser (with Windsor motor) could tear up any highway in total luxury and comfort. Should never have let it go 🏆. Guess this is just another sob😭 (definitely NOT Saab 🤮) story! 😉
Dad had both a ’69 and ’72 Galaxie 500 4 door hardtops, with 390 and 400 engines respectively. The ’69 drove pretty well for a full-size Ford, while the ’72 was a horrible wallowing pig with flapping front sheet metal. I thought they were the same basic chassis. Can anyone explain why they felt so different?
You don’t say if your Dad’s ’72 was new or used, and if it was used, how old it was when your Dad bought it, but worn suspension parts (shocks, ball joints, idler arm, bushings, etc.) would be one clue. The flapping fender is a tip off that it wasn’t a new car. I suppose it could have left the factory with a poorly fastened fender, but I’m guessing that your Dad’s car wasn’t a new car when he bought it.
Like ’em or not, these cars had some attitude, and an ability to get the job done. For FoMoCo lovers, these would have been an attractive go-get as a family hauler. Count me in the “not” camp however. Fords corroded far more quickly at the time, or that was the commonly held perception, and thus, a lower impression of quality in these parts.
One of these cars was involved in a crash I was involved in, in my first year of driving. My car slammed in to the back of one of these lime green examples. Not wearing a seat belt (the law had just been passed making them mandatory), my knee slammed into the metal dash of my car. That touched a nerve for a little while.
Ruined a perfectly good Ford Wagon. Why do idiots lower their vehicles? I see no aesthetic reason or porpoise for doing it. But again, I don’t know why most raise them to cloud height and remain pavement princesses, I can see raising a truck for off road. I my 15 minute rant over…
I agree. I don’t know if the lowering was deliberate, or just a case of worn shocks and springs, but where I live, the roads develop a bumper crop of potholes every spring, followed by perpetual reconstruction every summer, so ground clearance is a must. Anything that low would take out its oil pan in short order here in New England, LOL!
Judging by the wheels and other additions I’d say the lowering was intentional. And always terrible. BTW shocks don’t hold a car up (unless aftermarket coil over rear overload shocks).
We called them “air shocks”. Gabriel, Monroe and Sears all sold them, Sears under its “Road Handler” label. You mounted a Schrader valve to the bumper and ran air hoses to each shock from a “T” fitting off of the Schrader valve. If the rear end was sagging and dragging, you made a trip to the local gas station, and pumped more air into the shocks until the car sat more or less level. Once the car was unloaded, the rear end would rise, so you let air out of the shocks until the car sat level again. Otherwise, the car looks like it was pointed downhill!
I think it’s peer pressure, I went through a lowering phase because it was the thing to do with a custom car, but I didn’t really like how it looked and I was afraid to drive it anywhere. I think a nicer set of (period correct) wheels and tires makes a greater visual difference without resorting to ruining the suspension
Thanks, Paul, for posting these pictures!
These were actually shot by a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous. He gave me permission to post them to the cohort.
I have never been a particular fan of late 1960’s and 1970’s Fords, they always seem too Baroque. But on the Country Squire it works.
I don’t like the lowered look either, but it’s usually rather simple to reverse. At least the car is driving around for all to see.
Not once in my life had I been laying in the back of a station wagon, on a mattress, as the vehicle is driven on a long highway trip. The AM radio speaker near my head playing some far off country music station, along with the farm report. Advertisements of an all you can eat buffet located in a town you’ve never heard about and the reading of lunch menus by an announcer who sounds like they actually care about what the kids are eating Tuesday. You got Dad to crack open the rear tailgate window and you can hear the wind blowing through those front vent windows. The air conditioning is off because Dad didn’t want the engine overheating and when he was your age, cars didn’t have air conditioning anyway.
I never layed on a matress with my head on a pillow, feeling the road rumbling under me as the tar strips rhyrmically burbled along with a gentle bounce along the concrete highway. I would be sleepy but too concerned about missing something along the road I hadn’t see before to shut my eyes.
Yet, you’d feel a jostle as Dad swung into a filling station, waking you, and you really need to get out of the back of the wagon to pee. Mom would tell us to bring back a Pepsi and more peppermints. Dad would loan a quarter for chips and you’d jump on the air hose to ring the bell as you ran into the men’s room.
I’ve been cheated. Never once on a mattress.
My dad had 2 of these in a row, a ’69 and a ’73, bought new, through ’78 when he changed over to Chevy when it also came in a 3 way tailgate and my Dad didn’t care for the ’79 downsized Ford (don’t know why he didn’t buy a end of year ’78 Ford instead).
They were comfortable cars. The ’69 was a squire but the ’73 ranch wagon was better equipped, it had the 400, air conditioning (first in our family) AM/FM stereo (ditto) and power locks (ditto again) but wind up windows. Both of them were 6 seaters, my Dad liked the storage area in the back under the floor and without the 2 rearmost seats it held more cargo. I only got to drive the ’73, missed the ’69 by less than a year, and it was an armfull, my Mom, who drove it most regularly, called it “the boat” I guess due to it’s size.
The ’73 also had trailer towing package, we pulled a ’20 pop up camper at times, it probably was overkill, but my Dad liked a margin of reserve. It also unfortunately had Firestone 500 tires which had a bubble in the sidewall and were discarded with about that many miles on them when someone put the car on a lift and noticed bulging. Probably when my Dad took it to get a hitch installed….the installer actually chided him since he’d just had a hitch put on the ’69 a few months before, since he’d bought the poptop right before he bought the ’73 (same year)…if he’d bought the Ranch Wagon before the camper, he’d only have needed hitch put on that…and doubt we did much more than pull the camper home from the dealer with the ’69’s hitch (but we made up for it eventually on the ’73)
For those that don’t like the DiNoc, or the lowering or side pipes, I snapped and posted this Country Sedan a few years ago. Same town, but in a residential neighborhood.
Ever since I was a little kid I’ve had an aversion to what I’ve perceived as the squinty look created by that beltline upkick. I still think I’d like these a whole lot better with most of that deleted and the beltline running at more or less its front-half, lower elevation all the way to the rear of the car. But over the decades and with much greater dilution (we almost never see these any more) I’ve grown less fulminatory about the squintiness; I guess I’m getting to where I can almost appreciate it.
I can’t say I’m onside with those frenched-in/faired-in exhaust dumps, but neither am I adamantly opposed. The wheels…maybe. The lowering: no.
Here’s the setup/picture page from Tom Couch’s U•R What You Drive:
…and here’s the subsequent knockdown page:
I understood the humor of this at the time – then I became a parent and discovered that this was what life was all about.
A mate of mine had a sedan this shape go? yes, handle? no it was too softly sprung for rural Aussie highways.
The mention of the wood matching the paint is notable. Not positive on Ford but GM and AMC wood decals were translucent presumably to allow the underlying paint to tint the woodgrain color. The tailgate piece was also reflective. Those properties were soon lost, of course, once the oxidation and fading set in.