The American Two-Door Wagon 1928-1981: Ponies

I’ve been away from CC for a while. One of the things occupying my time has been a piece on the American two-door wagon. In an extract from that piece, I profile the ponycars that received extra roofline.

Corvette Nomad was the ur-longroofponycar.

Sporty front clip with a wagon rear. A concept with no clear market, but a shape that was transcendent.

Mustang got in so early, it still had a 260.

Robert Cumberford, then an industrial designer and eventually Automobile magazine’s styling critic, got Barney Clark, employed at Ford’s ad agency J Walter Thompson and a friend, Jay Licata, involved.

In the spring of 1965, they paid for the car to be sent to Italy, where Intermeccanica built the body to Cumberford’s drawings. The whole project cost them less than $10,000.

Aftermarket was quick on the scene as well.

The Hobo was designed by Arthur Camp and sold by Joel Silver Inc. but there appear to have been no takers. Just $595, plus convertible.

Truth be told, if I had a convertible Mustang this is probably how I’d run it during winter.

The Cumberford wagon was proposed to Ford, but ran into disinterest.

Soon, however, Dearborn had their own over a 1966 body running around as a prototype. It may have looked like this sketch from the same year by Pete Brock while still at Shelby.

A wagon also featured at the late 1966 stage of development for the 1969 Mustang. Losing the b-pillar made the world of difference for the greenhouse.

American Motors toyed with wagon for their Javelin.

Things got as far as the Rogue Sports Wagon mockup bottom left. It had a longer roof than the coupe, but the padded halo moved it too far into brougham.

Robert Nixon didn’t like the direction this longroof was going, and sketched up his own vision. Based on the shorter AMX and with way more glass, it could have been a contender.

No go, but his hardtop four door AMX III Sports Wagon bottom right did lead to the Sportabout.

Plymouth’s Barracuda was absolutely screaming for a two-door wagon, but only got a four-door.

With the Camaro shape a lock by 1965, work started on variants beyond coupe and convertible.

Along with a fastback and an 8-inch shorter roadster, there was a sportwagon. They seem to have decided upon the version at top, but the lower one feels better.

Fisher Body proposed a wagon over a 1967 Camaro that was styled by its own team.

The point of this brief isn’t clear, Fisher was owned by GM and built specialist bodies to specification for the various divisions. It’s doubtful they were asked by corporate or Chevrolet to do this, it was more likely a pro-active effort. Maybe something for their own trade shows.

This and the 69 Mustang were using the kamm language, though neither applied it in an aerodynamically robust manner.

Daytona had sent the quest for the US personal wagon into overdrive.

Hank the Deuce had been pouring his name and money into the GT40, but it was lil’ ol’ Carroll hisself who beat the Ferraris at Le Mans in 1964. First in GT class, fourth overall.

Pete Brock used the kamm principle on his swayback Cobra berlinetta. By virtue of that severely truncated rear, this is a two box volume.

When Bob Ackerman started at General Motors in 1967, he sketched his own little kamm-based dream wagon.

Hank Haga saw it and asked him to apply the idea to the 1970 Camaro.

When development was still at its AAR grille phase, a wagon got a faster rear angle.

Nevertheless it was a masterful combination of mero and longroof.

As things continued through to production spec, the rear returned to its adroitness.

John DeLorean was running Pontiac during Firebird development when he saw the Camaro wagon. He called it the James Bond Car.

The Styling Aero Department manager, Kent Kelly, did some preliminary calculations to find the wagon more aerodynamic than the coupe. The name they gave it was Kamm Back.

It never made production, but it did spawn the Vega Kammback and Pinto Copycat.

And the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Type K.

Two showcars were built for General Motors by Pininfarina, but when costs were projected for series production it turned out the Type K would be priced at around $16,000 when the Trans Am started from $5,669.


This is an extract from a three-part piece; The American Two-Door Wagon 1928-1981, which you’ll find by clicking the image below.

I stumbled across Curbside Classic back during the Deadly Sins tumult. Crazy fun times, and a superb incubator for a writer.

There was Paul, who invited me in. The editor who could point out shortcomings in pieces I couldn’t see myself, the storyteller with his own vast and interconnected output to learn from.

There were the commenters – a congenial group of informed individuals from every make of life who appreciated, corrected and expanded into some insanely juicy threads.

Emboldened, my writing grew longer, and longer again.

In 2019 I pulled back, completely oversaturated in cars. Hardly looked at the things for a couple of years.

But the love returned, and I still had more stories to tell. Because I write about aesthetics, I’ve built a site reflective of that for my longer pieces. And because life happens, it took me like forever.

I’m also back on CC, with shorter stuff. It’s good to see you again.

… Key Sources …

The Short and Odd Life of the Two Door Station Wagon
by Paul Niedermeyer, Curbside Classic

Legend of the Ford Mustang Wagon
by Robert Cumberford, Motor Trend

AMC’s Stylish Javelin and AMX Station Wagons

The Camaro Kammback Story
by Bob Ackerman, Deans Garage