Vintage Snapshots: Station Wagons In The 1950s

The station wagon was certainly an automotive phenomenon during the 1950s. Once the all-steel bodies appeared, their practicality was unparalleled for the families of the time. And as it often happens, once a successful product is launched, it proliferates all over. In short order, just about every make had an offering in the segment.

I have a few previous posts with vintage photos of station wagons but in those, I highlighted families and people around them. On this occasion, the wagons themselves take center stage. Not all wagons were created equal of course, and some of these sold far better than others. And with many disappearing once worn out, some of these have rarely appeared at CC. With that in mind, unlike previous galleries, I’ll either add a bit of text or provide links to previous CC entries.

The lead pic is a 1956 Buick Special. Flint’s most popular wagon for the year with 13,770 units sold. Power came via a 322 CID V-8 with 220 hp.

1954 Chevrolet 150 Handyman Wagon. This is the base Special model of the Chevrolet wagons and moved 21,404 units in ’54. All carried Chevrolet’s “Stove Bolt Six”, now updated and promoted as the “Blue-Flame.” It provided 115 hp for manual-equipped vehicles and 125 hp for those with Powerglide.

1954 Mercury Monterey Wagon, with “steel mahogany-grained paneling.” Production was 11,968 and like all Mercurys, carried a 256CID with 161 hp.

1955 Chevrolet 210 Handyman, the most popular Chevy wagon for that year with 28,919 units sold. And being 1955, buyers could now choose Chevrolet’s new “Turbo-Fire V-8” (better known as the Small-Block to the rest of us) over the 6-cyl. options. The Nomad version of the ’55 has its own entry HERE.

1956 Pontiac Chieftain wagon. Engine choices were the 316CID V-8, in either 192 hp or 205 hp tune. Trim levels were the 860 and 870, each moving 12,702 and 21,674 units respectively. Not visible in this photo, this was the last year of the hood streaks.

A related ’57 Chieftain wagon has been covered previously at CC, the link is HERE.

1956 Ford Custom Ranch Wagon, one of 42,317 built that year.

1957 Mercury. These 4-doors came as the Commuter, Colony Park, and Voyager, depending on trim and seating options. This one was posted as a Commuter, and if so, it’s one of about 11,990 sold in ’57.

1957 Sierra, Dodge’s moniker for their 4-door wagons. Depending on trim and seating options, it could be the upscale Custom Sierra or just plain Sierra. Meanwhile, the 2-door went by the Suburban name.

1957 Buick Riviera Estate, one of 6,817 built for that year. The top entry wagon of the Series 40 Special, carrying a 364CID V-8 with 250 hp.

1956-57 Rambler Custom Cross Country. These have a devoted CC post, available HERE.

1958 Ford Del Rio Ranch Wagon. By this date, Ford was moving heavy numbers with their Country Sedan and Country Squire wagons. Meanwhile, the 2-door Del Rio was their second lowest selling, with 12,687 units. There’s a CC on a 1957 model HERE.

1958 Chevrolet Brookwood, the middle range between the Nomad and Yeoman. No figures per model for that year, but Chevrolet moved a not unsubstantial 187K wagons total for that year.

1959 Ford Country Sedan. Numbers for the Country Sedan were 123,412 units, counting both the 6 and 9 passenger versions. Ford’s total station wagon production numbers for ’59? A very dominant 269,338 units.


Related CC Reading:

Auction Classic: Arizona 2023 – A Walk Through Wagon History Part I

Auction Classic: Arizona 2023 – A Walk Through Wagon History Part II