Despite the fact that many cars on the road today feature all of the same characteristics of the traditional "station wagon," none of these cars will wear the label with pride. Instead, ambiguous titles like "crossover" or the now loosely defined "sport-utility vehicle" are what most car-based, long-roofed people-movers go by when their makers are looking for a label.
Before the auto industry dubbed the term poisonous-to-sales, the '60s and '70s produced some killer station wagons that could not only flew, but allowed you to take your friends along with you.
One such example came from the late-great Oldsmobile, whose A-body Vista Cruiser was essentially a Cutlass with a stretched chassis and room for at least six, legally. From 1968 to 1972, you could buy one of these with the 400 or 455 c.i. V8 Olds dropped in the 442 coupe which, despite the added cargo, made this one of the fastest family cars on the market. In Fact, in 1972, when the Oldsmobile Hurst was the official pace car at Indy, Olds put the same 455 Rocket V8 under the hood of a few Vista Cruisers to provide support-car duties throughout the race.
The grandaddy of all station wagons, however, was not so light on its feet. In a time where wagons were mostly built on wood frames, Ford introduced its first steel-bodied people-mover in the Ranch Wagon. The two-door version originally featured the "Mileage Maker" six-cylinder engine in 1952, and offered the more powerful Flathead V8 as a performance option. This model set the stage for at least two decades of "cool" station wagons.
The ultimate wagon came about in with the Chevy Nomad. In 1955, the Nomad was based on the popular Bel Air, and this car had all of the bells and whistles of its coupe-counterpart, plus looks like no other car on the road. It first debuted at the GM Motorama in 1954 as one of legendary GM head-stylists Harley Earl's "dream cars."
Do you think these were the best station wagons to ever hit the market? Leave your comments below:
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