Vintage Snapshot: The Camaro Family – QOTD: What Was Your First Kiddie Hauler?

I love this picture, as it really takes me back. Things were so different, in so many ways. Like that new mom’s exposed midriff. How many new moms would dare do that in 2018? Ok; enough of my relentless obesity crisis harping, although it does sometimes make one wonder if someone put something into the water…maybe corn syrup?

But it does all rather explain how a young family (what’s that?) got by with a Camaro (I’m quite sure the big Chevy belongs to the proud grandparents, who were being visited). Of course for how much longer is another question.

Speaking of questions, how about those of you that have had kids tell us what was the first car you hauled them in?

Me first. When I met Stephanie, she didn’t know how to drive. I tried once in my ’68 Dodge A100 van, but its clutch and column shifter was a bit too overwhelming. We shelved that for a year or so, which is unusual for living in Southern California. We lived just a short walk from downtown Santa Monica, which had shops, a mall and a farmer’s market.

I sold the van and bought a used ’68 Peugeot 404, with a four speed column shifter. That was not making it any easier. This fuzzy snapshot of it and her was made high on the Angeles Crest Highway on Thanksgiving weekend 1978. Yes it snows in Southern California.

not our actual beloved 404 wagon almost identical

But when Stephanie got pregnant in early 1980, she decided she was ready, but with an automatic, please. So I found a gem of a 1970 404 wagon for sale out in the San Fernando Valley. it was only $100, because the engine had blown its head gasket and had not been fixed, meaning the cylinders were all rusted.

So I rented a tow bar and towed it home behind the 404 sedan, over 405 and Mulholland Pass. the good old days indeed. And I found a 404 in a junkyard in Culver City (there used to be several there) for $50 pulled its engine and installed it into the wagon right at the curb in front of this little junk yard. And it ran like a top.

Well, it wasn’t any too fast, with its 1600cc engine that had some 70 or so hp, working through a three-speed ZF automatic. Fortunately starting in 1970, that automatic now started in first gear; previously it started in second unless you selected Low. But it was unstoppable, and would climb steep highway grades in the Sierras at 45mph wide-open in second. We had a giant factory luggage rack like that one too. I could haul vast amount of stuff, between the generous rear storage area and that roof rack.

Sadly, I can’t find a single picture of our actual wagon. But it was a terrific family hauler. After my son was born, it took the four of us and my mom on highly memorable trip up to the Sierras in what would turn out to be one of the biggest snow storms ever. I had a toboggan strapped to the roof rack, along with the skis.

Enough already. What was your first kiddie hauler?