Curbside Concours: Ten Terrific Station Wagons Around Town

The 1961 Rambler Cross Country made me realize it wasn’t the only surviving family hauler that caught my eye over the last couple of months. Indeed, I’ve thought of how cool it would be to have any of the next ten Mom-Mobiles.

This wouldn’t be a real station wagon list without the mother of them all: The Ford Country Squire. Ford absolutely dominated the wagon market seemingly forever. Some say the Thunderbird broke down traditional price barriers, but I tip my hat to the Di-Noc wood paneled wagons of Dearborn. They carried a snob appeal that spanned multiple generations. I personally think they looked the best from 1961-64.

This 1964 New Yorker Town & Country was a few thousand more new. But it doesn’t project the same snob appeal as the Ford. It seems decidedly sportier, more active. And it was one of the last Four Door Hardtop Station Wagons. With that 413 V8 under hood, it’s a tempting proposition.

Being an “Oldsmobile Man” it was so hard not to call the number on the for sale signs and at least take this 350 equipped 1973 Vista Cruiser out for a spin.  Equally beastly as the Country Squire in size and weight, but with that F-body derived front suspension giving some semblance of handling? Someone beat me to it, because when I went back to take a serious look, someone snapped it up for the $1,300 asking price.

North Berkeley BART brings us this plain Polara wagon from 1966. I see it tool around town every once in a while with bags of fertilizer, so it’s definitely a workhorse that is holding up to the daily drudgery very well for a 45 year old car.

Great wagons come in sizes big and small. And we find the antithesis of the 1973 Vista Cruiser in this 1977 (I think) Corolla wagon. Defying the rust that killed the bodies around their solid drivetrains, this one can be seen crossing the Bay Bridge daily.

Also in the solid seventies survivors from Japan category is this 1977 Datsun 810 wagon. Fastrak transponder in windshield, it’s a one owner car that sports a “four door sports car” sticker pulled from a early 1990s Maxima. My favorite Japanese cars more often than not tend to be Nissan/Datsuns, so this extremely well cared for wagon is one car I’d delight to drive myself.

The hottest day of the year in the bay area last year sent me to the beach. On the way back home I caught this 1965 Chevelle Malibu wagon. Although popular they don’t dominate the vintage wagon numbers the way that the trinity of Ford Wagons do in these parts.

Most often in that holy trinity I see Falcon wagons of all stripes. Not as legendarily indestructible as their competition from Highland Park, they must have been pretty durable, because Berkeley is absolutely crawling with Falcons (and Comets too). Behind W123 Diesels and Volvo 240s, the most common car you see over 25 years old ambling the streets in these parts are Falcons. This 1963 Falcon Squire with a 260 and a 3 Speed Floor shift is almost the ultimate wagon for me.

Another close call for the #1 spot in my wagon spotting desires is the 1968 Colony Park that meanders the streets around the UC Berkeley campus. Not all that different from the one Lucille Ball drove in Yours, Mine and Ours, which was filmed in Alameda, Oakland and San Francisco in 1968. It brings up pop culture memories and station wagon envy all at once.

But the hands down winner of cool goes to this daily driver 1964 LeSabre Wagon. Rather exclusive, with some of the best wagon styling GM ever did, it gets lost in the shadow of the long wheelbase A-body Wagons today. General Motors wouldn’t build Buick or Olds brand B-body wagons again until 1970 and 1971, respectively. With the bike rack on top, you can’t tell this Buick it should slow down in old age, it’s ready to take off to the Mountains or down to the beach in all of its 325hp Nailhead glory.