By on May 29, 2013

04 - 1976 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe perceived usefulness of full-sized station wagons of the Malaise Era dropped down to about zero when minivans and SUVs became mainstream family-hauler options in the late 1980s. You see a few wagon freaks restoring these things nowadays, but for every Country Squire that gets restored (or even preserved), a hundred others get sent to the knackers. Here’s a well-worn ’76 that I spotted in Denver a couple weeks back.
16 - 1976 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe saw a ’75 Country Squire in this series last fall, but big Detroit wagons have become very rare sights in junkyards during the last half-decade or so.
09 - 1976 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGrowing up a Malaise Era kid, just about every family had a Country Squire or its GM or Chrysler counterpart; these cars were the Voyager and Explorer of their time. My family had a Chevy Beauville van instead (bought new for a Minnesota-to-California move), but the idea was the same: rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame construction, big V8, kid-barf-proof cloth or vinyl interior.
14 - 1976 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the 460-cubic-inch big-block, good for 202 horsepower and 352 foot-pounds of torque… and about 9 MPG on the highway. Yes, the horsepower number is depressingly low, but torque was what mattered with these cars.
07 - 1976 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe faux-wood trim succumbed to the Colorado sun decades ago.
17 - 1976 Ford Country Squire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAfter 37 years, this car has been used up.

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94 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Ford LTD Country Squire...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    Interesting that it’s an LTD with the big engine, but roll up windows.

    • 0 avatar
      chas404

      I borrowed one of these in 1988 at 18 yrs old to tour my future school UNC Chapel Hill. I remember it had TERRIFYINGLY loose steering (makes a 1992 towncar feel like a bmw). It was baby crap green with that same color interior. what a pile!

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        My college had several of the square Chevy Caprice wagons as pool cars when I was there in the early 90s. I called it “Frisby steering”, because holding a frisby up in the air in front of you had exactly the same feeling. LOTS of fun on the windy back roads of Eastern Maine… Also, how do such completely enormous cars have so incredibly little space inside??

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      That’s the kind of strange combinations that resulted when every single option was available a la carte. This was probably ordered by someone on a budget that valued stump-pulling torque more than not having to crank a window.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    We had a wood panelled 1987 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser. We cross shopped the still shockingly new Ford Taurus wagon (the one we looked at was gold with a tan interior) and we also briefly looked at the Chrysler mini vans but they were way too expensive. The next closest car we came to buying was a slightly used Chevy Caprice wagon which was maroon on maroon vinyl.
    Our luxury Olds was metallic blue with blue velure inside. After about 6 years we started the mini van rounds. But the Olds was always still around until the mid 2000s. I’ll always think of that as our family car, but I would never want to own it again.

  • avatar
    moawdtsi

    We had a 1977 chevy malibu classic station wagon my dad bought new the same year I was born. I grew up in that car and had the (dis)pleasure of driving it to school when I was 15. I remember my dad would turn off the a/c as if he was flipping on the nitrous when he really needed to get up to speed to pass someone. The car was white much like a boat, so that’s often what we called it. It also had a red vinyl interior that used to burn the heck out of your legs in the summer time, that is, until we got the windows tinted. You didn’t see too many of these wagons with tinted windows but my dad won a contest for a free sunroof and worked with the installer to get tinted windows in the wagon instead. Good choice I think.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Feels very National Lampoon…

  • avatar
    Easton

    I am fascinated by these gigantic malaise-era wagons because I just can’t fathom how they ever came to exist. Even with gas prices being a fraction of what they are today, who the hell would want to have to stop and buy gas that often?!

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      If you had a family big enough to need one you were going to be stopping all the time for restroom/water/food/puke breaks anyway. This along with the 55mph speed limit made for some long trips.

    • 0 avatar

      Most of today’s huge gas-swilling SUVs have less interior space than the big wagons of the 1970s, and people still buy them for family road trips. Back in the mid-70s, most Detroit mid- and full-size cars were lucky to crack 20 MPG on the highway, so the thirsty wagons seemed like a good hauling-capacity-to-fuel-consumption deal.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I always considered the Suburban I had to be akin to a Kingswood with 4 wheel drive. Other than that, they fulfilled the exact same purpose in about the same footprint.

      • 0 avatar
        Easton

        I don’t know of many families around here who buy full-size SUV’s as family vehicles. A lot of crossovers but very few real SUV’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Piston Slap Yo Mama

        My ’72 Squire sits in the garage aging gracefully. The rear seat folds absolutely flat creating a pickup sized cargo area. The tail gate exhibits clever engineering as it both flips down or can be opened like a door. The a/c blows shaved ice. I could probably pull the Earth off its axis with the torque from the 400ci mill. Bought it last year with 50k miles, glossy paint and a mint interior for $2700. Some of my friends were practically hostile in their comments regarding my purchase – but I just wasn’t smart enough to go to the dealer and sign on the dotted line for a $40,000 Expedition. Stupid me. Now I have to endure the appreciative waves from old-timers, firemen and other genuinely interesting people.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          “Bought it last year with 50k miles, glossy paint and a mint interior for $2700.”

          You read about a lot of car deals here, this is one of the very few that have ever made me jealous. I’d have bought it in a heartbeat and not minded pumping $4+ gas into it for the next several years.

          It’d take a goodly while to make up $37,300. And meantime, you get that heart-healthy, sublimely cosseting ride. Damn.

          Plus, I love the ’69-’72 front ends.

          • 0 avatar
            Piston Slap Yo Mama

            Thanks! I watched it on Craigslist for a couple weeks starting at $3500 and deflating each week. I’m lucky my tactic wasn’t foiled by having it bought out from under me. Here’s its identical twin (except mine has a black interior and baroque hubcaps) on Hemmings: http://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/dealer/ford/ltd/1573724.html
            I’m dubious that he’ll get $18k, but then again it IS perfect, and waaaaaay cooler than a Hyundai for the same money.

        • 0 avatar
          Compaq Deskpro

          If I saw that for sale I would have bought that yesterday, nicely done.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            “waaaaaay cooler than a Hyundai for the same money.”

            I like how your brain works.

            That photo you linked to only makes me more jealous. For my tastes in cars, you did genius work.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Oh I love that green one. The front end is so sporty, and the wheels set it off nicely. I’d have a huge boat if I had somewhere inside to put it. I know they don’t last too long when parked outside year-round.

      • 0 avatar
        porschespeed

        No, they don’t. As someone who was actually alive and cognizant of cars when those turds were in showrooms, those Vista Cruisers and Country Squires had just about zero interior volume, especially compared to a newish YuSuburbaHo. They were a 4D sedan with an elevated trunk, nothing more.

        If you really wanted to road-trip in the 70s, you bought a van like everybody else.

        Not to mention that on the best of days with a stiff tailwind those familytrucksters might get 15 MPG – with no safety features of consequence and ergonomics suitable for Camp X-Ray. Vinyl interior in 100F? Enjoy those 1st degree burns, especially the brands from the r-tard metal emblems in the seats.

        In the mid 70s, station wagons were for the aspiring who didn’t know that the upper-middle had moved on to I-H Scouts and Jeep Grand Cherokees. Wagons were for their help.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          But some of us poop out snobbery like bad coleslaw.

          • 0 avatar
            porschespeed

            You’re right, that Chi-com knock-off of a Pentax Limited, is just the same quality as the Leica…

            How dare I know any better.

            What’s your handle again?

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          “In the mid 70s, station wagons were for the aspiring who didn’t know that the upper-middle had moved on to I-H Scouts and Jeep Grand Cherokees.”

          What kind of awesome ’70s time machine did they use to import the Grand Cherokees from 1993?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Was there not a Cherokee version of the Wagoneer in the ’70s? Or are you just too young to remember those beasts? :-)They certainly were Grand in stature and rust capability, if not in name at that point!

    • 0 avatar
      chas404

      as someone who drives big trucks my guess is they had big gas tanks like 25 to 30 gallons. not like the 13 gallons cars have today.

      all my trucks i made sure to get the 35 gallon tank. 15mpg gives u 500 mile range.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        21 gallons on the full size and mid size wagons from Ford in 71.

        • 0 avatar
          CobraJet

          My 74 Gran Torino 2dr hardtop had a 26 gallon tank. My wife almost croaked when we first filled it up after leaving the dealership on fumes. Back then they gave you no gasoline as part of the new car sale.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The sedans had more room for the tank so they got larger ones. In the wagons they had to stick it in the quarter panel that didn’t have the spare tire.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I believe the Caprice had 25 gallon tanks in the 80s and about 24 in the 90s for the saloon and it was probably 23/22 for the estate, as people mentioned below. I’m pretty sure a 90s Colony Park wagon is about 18 gallons +/- 1, so the Fords were probably similar.

        I believe in the 60s, the equivalent full-size Chevy (Impala and its progeny) would have had approximately 20 gallon tanks on average, although I bet there are some years/models that had smaller like 16 and some years/models that had larger like 24.

        Some minivans or SUVs/CUVs have had 25 gallon or larger tanks. Something like a Ford Windstar/Freestar will have 25 (although current Sienna, Odyssey, and Caravan will be either 20 or 21), and a current 3-row German SUV like a GL-Class or Q7 will be 26+. I know a 90s Tahoe had a 30-gal tank, and a 90s Suburban had a 42-gal tank, but I think the tanks are smaller now, especially on a Suburban 1500.

        The largest tank I can think of on a non-minivan/SUV and non-S-Class/7-Series/A8 (22/22/24) is the Infiniti G35/G37 with 20 gallons. Even a newer Panther is 19.

        The problem with having a tank so large is the annoying $100 limit on gas pumps, and $75 on pumps that haven’t had their software updated.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Gas tank was probably something like 30-40 gallons, so about 400 miles.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        My farther-in-law had a ’75 with a 20 gallon tank (+1 for a reserve), but you could get an after-market auxiliary tank installed. Ford offered an intercooler, but I don’t know about the extra tank. He averaged just under 10 MPG combined and stopped for gas at the 180 miles point. At about 60 cents/gallon, it was cheaper than a 20 MPG car today if you ignore inflation (60 cents then is $2.60 today.)

      • 0 avatar
        porschespeed

        Anything much beyond 20-23 gallons, was and still is, strictly for vans and trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          occupant

          Funny you mention that. My 1976 Gran Torino sedan still has the original 27 gallon tank. Filled it this afternoon for $90, first time I’ve EVER been able to do that with this car because I just replaced the seal at the filler neck and can put more than a third of a tank in at any given time. Replacement tanks sold today for this model are only available in a more comprehensive 26 gallon size (that can also be used back to 1972, and also fit some other cars).

          Also funny you mention that, because back in the day, my boss at a courier company went to a city surplus auction and bought a crew cab 1987 Chevy C30 pickup with a 454 and automatic. It got about 10 miles to the gallon and had a mere 18 gallon tank. One tank, not two. That’s how the City of Columbus ordered them back then. We used it for heavy loads on an as-needed basis until he came up with a couple of used Econoline supervans with the 300cid straight six. Sold the pickup for twice what he paid for it, too!

          • 0 avatar
            porschespeed

            And that Gran Torino was an oddball outlier. Don’t get me wrong – that horrid thang needed that monster tank, but…

            70 Eldo with 500 cubes – 20 gals
            79 T-Bird -21 gals
            67 GTO – 21.5 gals
            76- Dodge B100 Van 23 gals
            64- Dodge 440 15 gals
            70- Hemi Charger 20 gals
            69 Cuda 18 gals
            72 Bronco 15 gals

            I could do another 30 domestics off the top of my head from things that have passed through my hands over the last 30+ years I’ve been playing with cars. And I’ve only had a hundred or so domestics.

            The industry standardized around the low 20 gal mark for passenger cars in the early-mid 60s. That your one particular car has an unusually large tank for a passenger vehicle does not a trend make.

            For every Gran Torino at 26 gal, I can show 100+ domestic tanks around 20-23 gal caps.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          My 01 A8 had 24.2! Painful fill-ups.

  • avatar
    ToxicSludge

    “sent to the knackers”? What the hell is the knackers?

    • 0 avatar
      gsf12man

      Originally a slaughterhouse for old, worn-out work animals such as horses, thus the modern derivation.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      It’s a person who renders dead or dying horses into other products (eg. dog food). “Sent to the knacker’s yard” is a British expression meaning something has been unceremoniously disposed off, and “knackered” means it is about ready to go there.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I grew up with a 1972 country sedan wagon (downscale from the squire I think) as a kid. In the early 80’s it became the spare car for my brother and I to drive. It got abused regularly by teenagers. On one occasion a friend and I decided to see how fast it could go out on a deserted highway one night. Just as I passed 100mph I l felt something on my head, the headliner had inflated and ballooned down to the seat backs. I’m guessing from an air leak off the roof rack or window. Once I slowed down it went right back onto position.
    One of the coolest features of these was the tailgate that could open to the side and down. The only cooler one was the one my aunts Pontiac Safari had that retracted into the floor. I’m guessing both caused plenty of fits at the service departments when they malfunctioned

    • 0 avatar
      aycaramba

      Ah, yes. The Pontiac Safari. My family had two of them when I was a kid–a ’74 and a ’79. I remember the ’74 having the 450 and that tailgate that retracted down into the rear bumper while the rear windshield would retract up into the roof. It seemed pretty cool when I was a kid. My kid sister and I spent many a family road trip in the back cargo area on sleeping bags, our two older brothers in the second row, and suitcases on top, National Lampoon style. No A/C in that car, so it was all windows down, which was cool, because my sis and I could hang our feet out the back window.

      There’s a small part of me that mourns the fact that my kids will never experience that kind of freedom, as we’ve traded it in for safety. Heck, my daughter throws a fit if I start down the driveway before her seat belt is fastened. Can’t imagine how she would handle cruising down the highway in the back of a pickup truck like we used to do as kids.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I too grew up in a Malaise wagon…though it was a 77 Corolla. Looks to have been a 3/4 size scale replica of one of these beasts without any of the cool factor. Guess as an only child though my parents skipped the Family Trucksters.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I love the worn out expression the half-open headlight cover gives to this tired old wagon.

    Love the green interior, reminds me of my first car, a Malaise Regal.

    Our family skipped the wagons and minivans. We had an 84 Ford Conversion van as our road tripping truckster. Not that we drove a lot, my Dad was an airline mechanic and we used the free travel for many vacations. Back when you could do such a thing easily.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I love me some old wagons. A late 60′s Country Squire or Colony Park with a mod motor swap is on the project car list as a future tow vehicle.

  • avatar
    bk_moto

    When my dad was a young newlywed just starting out in career and family, he went and bought a new 1977 Plymouth Volare wagon to use as the family truckster. It was painted silver with a blue vinyl interior. My dad, being poor at the time, spec’ed it out as a stripper special. Slant Six, four-speed manual transmission, no power steering, AM-only radio, no A/C, black steelies with dog dish hubcaps. Eventually FM capability was added with an aftermarket FM converter mounted under the dash.

    I’m sure by all modern standards it was an awful car but I do have some fond memories of it. It aged poorly – whatever Chrysler was making their silver paint out of back then, it was terrible. But the slant six refused to die. This car was out of the family before I came of driving age. Kinda wish I had it now just for the novelty factor.

    By ’85 it was time to upgrade and my dad eschewed the newly created minivan segment and instead went with a full size Dodge 7-passenger van. It was pretty much base as well (he went from being poor to just being cheap) except thankfully it had A/C. One thing he was adamant about, though, that I now appreciate: he had it special ordered with a 4-speed manual transmission. We had this one in the family for quite a lot longer though the light blue Chrysler paint of that era aged no better than their late ’70s silver paint (it was a two-tone paint job, light blue over dark blue, and strangely the dark blue held up fine while the light blue peeled and flaked). We still had it when I learned to drive and I remember taking it out in adjacent neighborhoods (never my own of course) and power-oversteering it around corners, hubcaps flying off just like in the movies. Man that was dumb. :-)

  • avatar
    DownEaster

    Nice car and I remember when everyone seemed to have one of these. Last year before the 77 downsized GM cars. I think gas was 55 cents a gallon then and the full sized cars were selling again after the 74 oil embargo. Reminds me of the expression “Whatever floats your boat” and with these cars, you just kind of aimed when driving them. Not fun!

  • avatar
    ChiefPontiaxe

    In the mid-1970′s our family car was a 1972 Country Squire in the same color combination as the one above. It was a REAL POS. The car would run-on after you shut it off- my dad referred to it as “dancing.” Also, in the days before Armor All, my mom used to put Mazola oil on the faux wood paneling to make it shiny.
    I think we traded it to our painter in exchange for painting our house. Thanks for the memories.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Run-on wasn’t the car’s fault. It had to do with the gasoline, smog/emission controls, compression (low) and timing.

      Many cars of that era did it.

      Leave it in drive then shut it off. No dieseling. Then put it in park.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        And Fords of that era had an anti-diesel solenoid to counteract the run-on problem; the solenoid held the throttle open with the ignition on, and allowed the throttle plate to close further once the ignition was turned off, starving the engine for air.

        We had it on our 1971 LTD. It worked most of the time, but if some idiot at the corner gas station used the idle screw to set the idle speed instead of adjusting the solenoid (which happened ALL the time because they didn’t understand the purpose of the solenoid), then it was defeated.

        GM used a solenoid in the same location, but for idle speed boost when the A/C compressor was engaged. This was probably a factor in the incorrect idle speed adjustment mentioned above as on a GM you still used the idle screw to set the RPM.

  • avatar
    millmech

    It must have looked better before they took it out of the box.

  • avatar
    mankyman

    Oh man, I have some good memories of this car. My buddy used to have a ’75 Villager (essentially the same car) in crap-brown. It even had bench seats in the trunk. The handling was absolutely atrocious. The back seat was plenty big enough for getting some good action with your date though, and the thing could haul ass on the highway.

    In the summer of ’91 my buddy and I went camping in it. On a remote rural road in Michigan we actually took the beast up to 115 mph. With those Malaise-era cars that was an incredibly dangerous thing to do. (I once got a ’74 Monte Carlo up to 115 mph and that felt dangerous too.) In conrrast, my 2008 CVPI feels fine at 125, so I know they can make big, heavy RWD body-on-frame cars safe at higher speeds.

    The car did not like it and 50 miles down the road, the 350 Windsor belched out a rod through the oil pan. That was the end of the old Villager, but at least she went out in style.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      In 1975 the base engine in the full size Ford wagons was the 400 which is based on the “335″ or Cleavland series engine.

      • 0 avatar
        mankyman

        Well, then I must issue a mea culpa on the engine size because I’m pretty sure it was a ’75. Wikipedia says the thing weighed almost 5000 pounds. It sure was a beast. And I guess it was called a Colony Park, not a villager. Christ, I’m losing my mind.

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    Almost as nice as the Wagon Queen Family Truckster!

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      But does it come in Metallic Pea?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I believe the Wagon Queen Family Truckster from “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation” is actually a heavily-modified Ford LTD Country Squire…but it’s the generation after this one. That movie is at least ten years older than I am, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr Imperial

        Here, Kyree:

        http://www.carlustblog.com/2009/03/wagon-queen-family-truckster.html

        Favorite part of the entire article:

        “Everybody knows the Family Truckster is funny; what is not as well-understood is the fact that the Truckster’s disgusting excesses make it intelligent, incisive, pitch-perfect satire of the dismal state of American cars in the 1970s and early 1980s. It was certainly over-the-top, the Truckster is so well-aimed that it’s not hard to imagine it being real. Don’t believe me? Let’s step through the ways in which the Truckster satirizes the typical 1983 American LeBehemoth Brougham.”

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Back in 91, I totalled the family Chevy Celebrity wagon and ended up buying a 76 Country Squire from the original owner. Even though it only had 80some K miles on it, one forgets how badly these cars aged even under the mild service of a wife with two daughters. The suspension wallowed, valves chattered, seals leaked, etc. But, it got the job done for six months until the business lease ran out on a relative’s two year old Taurus wagon. I sold it quickly for $200 less than I paid for it, and bought the Taurus from the leasing company.
    Since we never had any kind of wagon growing up, I didn’t feel at all nostagalic about getting rid of that beast.

  • avatar
    bigL

    All fixed up they are used in Baja Mexico like Tijuana, as Peoples’Cabs, There is the door in the back that opens down or out and a seat there and tehnthe seats in thefront and back. People pile in.I don’t know what they charge.
    The authoriteis allow it and everyone that is driving around it gives pause to let them load –in about thirty seconds.
    Remember it is Napoleonic lwas dn there and you are guilty until proven innocent. So they tijuanans and the rest are very careful drivers.
    But the old country squires do have another life.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    There was no frame under a GM van until the current generation.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      The lightest-duty “short” full-size GM vans were indeed unibodies, but the heavier gvw models did have frames even though they looked the same.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The cutaway versions got a frame but not even the 1 ton with the full body had a frame. They all had “frame rails” but they are stamped sheet metal and welded to the floor plan. I spen many years in fleet maintenance and spent way too many hours under those vans and replacing engines on them.

  • avatar
    April 5

    I bought a 1979 LTD sedan (a very attractive creme and gold two-tone paint) from my grandmother when she stopped driving. It was 15 inches shorter and 800 pounds lighter than this beast.

    And I thought the downsized panther platform was a nightmare to park…

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    Saw a rolling equivalent of this on the freeway a couple weeks ago, only it was a Colony Park.

    The interior of this ’75 Country Squire doesn’t really look that different from my 80s Panther. I guess Panthers have always been outdated dinosaurs.

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    Closest thing that I can relate to this is my mom’s old car, with the longest name I’ve ever seen:

    1981 Pontiac Grand Le Mans Safari Wagon

    Pontiac? Yep, manufactured it at least.
    Grand? In terms of size, yes. Grandeur? Not so much.
    Le Mans? Maybe LeMons…
    Safari? Yep, that’s what I would want going into the African wilderness…
    Wagon? Indeed!

    Gold body, faux wood paneling, de-luxe wire wheelcaps, gold imitation mouse fur interior-it’s Gooooooold, baby!

    Mom still fondly remembers that car, carting her brood and groceries around.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    My father had always wanted a Buick Roadmaster wagon. The closest we ever got was a Dodge Caliber…

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    Road Locomotive..

    I remember these always making a groaning/moaning sound when accelerating(?) on a hot day. Was this the air pump? Fan clutch?

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Jimbo was a thrifty sonofagun.

    Jimbo sighed as he plopped into the pea green seat of “The Beast”. The door shut with a clatter. The starter engaged with a ping, followed by the sounds of a heavy mesh of straight cut gearing. Flame belched forth around the #5 exhaust runner, it’s gasket had been shed long ago. The 460 grumbled to life and the exhaust runner ticked it’s cadence in unison to the idle speed. Jimbo lifted his massive forearm to the column shift, and selected reverse. The big block made the rear axle it’s bitch with a solid “CLUNK” as massive amounts of torque were already being delivered at it’s 1800rpm idle speed. For this was “The Beast”, it needed no introduction or explanation.

    Jerrod gave hand gestures with one hand to Jimbo to line the trailer up to the hitch. The other held an ice cold Coors Light. Closer and closer, he gestured, finishing with the customary flash of “the bird” to indicate proper alignment to the ball. The Beast chugged and bounced down I-25. Safety chains dragged on the pavement thanks to the weight of Jimbo’s 23′ Crusader. All of a sudden, the engine began to misfire heavily. Muffled backfires underhood alerted the duo to a change of plans for the day. The stricken Beast exited the highway and lurched to a stop at a gas station. The engine was lifeless as they attempted to get it re-lit.

    The two peeled their sweaty backs from their chariot and began spelunking underhood. The toolbox in the boat was brought out and made ready. A screwdriver was rammed into an ignition wire. Upon cranking, lack of spark was found to be the culprit. “I bet it’s the pickup coil” said Jerrod matter-of-factually. The clever men made their way to the Carquest 2 blocks away, and returned with the necessary items. Repairs were completed in short order, followed by the new distributor cap and rotor Jimbo had splurged on. The Squire roared to life once more. Jerrod grasped the distributor and made a precise final adjustment with his intuitive ear. Another weekend for the books.

    A few months later, Jerrod came by to pick Jim up. He said he had something to show him, it was a surprise. It was red. It was big. It was broken. It was the new Beast, or Big Red as some like to call her.
    “That damn fool didn’t even know what the hell he was doing!” Jimbo yelled over the sound of the boosted diesel.

  • avatar

    We had a 1978 version of that. I recall coming by to pickup my girlfriend (now wife) in 1986 and 87 for dates and watching her crestfallen look as I rolled up in the pimptastic green and faux wood shaggin’ wagon instead of the ’81 Rabbit. The handling was crap, it cost me a fortune in gas and the vinyl seats sucked because the A/C never worked. The large interior space was, however, uh “useful.”

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    My folks had a 1971 Torino Country Squire for many years that I practically grew up in. It was light tan on the outside (complete with woodgrain paneling) and dark green vinyl on the inside. It sported a 351 Cleveland V-8 with a 2-bbl Motorcraft carburetor.

    The only issue we ever had with it was the occasional choke problem these Motorcraft carburetors all suffered from – I can recall many occasions where my Mom would have to pop the air cleaner lid off and hold the choke open while I cranked the car to get it started. Once running the choke would behave itself.

    I especially loved the rear-facing “rumble” seat back in the cargo area – I spent many enjoyable miles back there in that seat on family road trips.

    Like another poster, I too was wowed and fascinated by the “magic door gate” that all Ford wagons seemed to have (standard, I presume?) which allowed for flipping down into a tailgate for picnics or opening like a door for ease of loading. I don’t recall these ever being very problematic unlike the GM doors that slid under the floor.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I could beat the pants off of any Country Squire with my mom’s Vista Cruiser… not to mention out-maneuver it

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      We had BOTH a Vista Cruiser and a Country Squire at one time or another. Dad realized that with the gas crunch these could be bought as an extra car for dirt cheap. The cruiser a 1973 I think came in 1977 I think, the Squire, 1976, in about 1981. Dad paid around %800 for each, as I recall. Maybe a little more.

      The ‘Cruiser was quickly named the “sleek beauty” by one of my friends and the name stuck. It was, actually, and handled well, and was more comfortable, having the plush GM upholstery while the Squire had springy type seats. The Vista Cruiser when it fell apart did so all at once, GM style. The Squire–I don’t know what happened to it, except as the last child moved out he got rid of it.

  • avatar
    skor

    My father was never a believer in long family road trips. If it wasn’t a two door coupe, my father would refuse to consider it. I think the farthest we ever traveled in a day with my father behind the wheel was 70 or 80 miles. Hell, my father was not a believer in family vacations……we’d get dropped off at the airport with mom and picked up 2 weeks later.

    Fortunately, my friend’s parents were big believers in family road trips. His dad was a lot like Clark Griswold, only a lot more drunk and violent. They had a 72 Country Squire wagon — piss yellow, fake wood, 390. The AC would spit ice cubes at you. I’d go with them on trips to the Jersey shore before the zombie Guido invasion took place.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    A family friend had one of these, in Avacado green for his next to last car. Like every car he ever bought, it was a mess, both mechanically, and cosmetically. He had no power to resist the nonsense a car salesman would spew at him. The first sign he had been screwed again was the left rear axle popped out and then slammed back in when he made a hard left turn, causing his son and I, who were following him, to laugh hysterically, knowing Big Bill had bought another junker. After that was fixed, by his mechanic brother, the bondo that made up about 50% of the rear quarters started falling out. His son, Little Bill asked him, “Dad, do you buy these cars because you want to be embarrassed?” Big Bill just looked at him like he was speaking nonsense. Big Bill then went and had some garbage can galvanized sheet steel pop riveted to the rear quarters, causing a lot of chuckles from everyone but him. About 3 years after he bought it, he started it up one winter morning, and it spun a bearing. A teardown by his brother showed it wasn’t worth fixing as a short block would have been needed, so off to the scrapyard it went. He didn’t break his losing streak when he bought his last car, an 83 (I think) Chevy Malibu, an “Executive car” that seemed to be pretty tired looking for a 6000 mile “creampuff”. As expected, it was in the shop constantly for all kinds of issues. About a year after he bought it, he died, and his widow got stuck with it until 1990, when she finally gave it to her son in law’s school for use as a teaching vehicle in auto classes. The 1990 Blazer was around for almost 17 years, with almost no problems, she just drove it to death.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      I don’t like it when true stories render my fictional stories sub-par.

      • 0 avatar
        porschespeed

        Your fictional stories are already sub-par.

        Writing ain’t your gift. Maybe you could have made it at Penthouse in the 70s, but barring a timewarp, you should look for a new line.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I disagree, I find his writing to be very vivid. If you’re expecting Hemingway on a car site I suspect you’ll be waiting for a long time, friend.

          • 0 avatar
            porschespeed

            I guess if one finds Kardassians “vivid” then his writing will appeal – but ‘reality TV’ and Maury Povitch are not my bag. I was taught to aim high, not to sanction mediocrity.

            But I’m in my mid 40s. Being retarded is what our system taught you kids to be “ok”. Not surprising you accept stuff that would have gotten you an “F” in 10th grade creative writing back in the early 80s.

            EDIT: Not trying to to be a complete eh-hole. Just saying he reminds me of the the kids in HS who smoked waaaayyy too much weed and cranked out stuff like this for CW class, If you dig it, well, that’s up to you. Free country and all that.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m no creative writing expert but evidently you’ve had some training on the subject… care to write a paragraph or two on any subject and demonstrate effective writing?

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Rat Own, 28-Cars……

            Make us laugh, cry, and re-pledge allegiance to Western Civ with 250 words on cupholders.

            There are a few guys here who could. And none of them inflicts gratuitous injury.

          • 0 avatar
            Piston Slap Yo Mama

            The short fictional interlude inserted into the comments section is how the phenomenal Graverobber got his start. True he’s brilliant and Crab-man has some catching up to do, but I’m all for his art appearing here.

          • 0 avatar
            porschespeed

            “28 cars later” (which was about a year when I was a kid in da 80s) Let us be clear…

            Yup, I have forgotten more than ‘Crab whatever’ will ever know. Especially if he keeps smoking grass at the rate of a highschooler.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The side facing rear seats on these as well as on other full sized Fords and Mercs wagons were quite unique, functional and great for kids. Also the power mini-vent option made the Country Squire or Grand Marquis the Lincoln Continental or Town Car of wagons.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    When I was maybe 8, one of my friends’ parents had one of these (may or may not have been a ’75, but same car, same color, I think. I remember that it felt heavy just riding in it, even heavier than my parents’ ’73 Torino. I went with them to a football game out of town, and somewhere along the line, as we were riding in the “wayback”, someone ran into the side of the car, in the right rear fender…we barely felt it and drove back home with no problems, just some body work to be done. The next year, they traded it on a Suburban (back when no one in the suburbs drove a Suburban as a family car).

    Those who decry gas-guzzling SUVs being used routinely as family haulers, forgets that family haulers were once gas-guzzling wagons. Families with young kids will always have something like this–fuel prices figure only slightly into the equation.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    1960′s full size cars did get better gas mileage with less smog gear.

    Parents ’68 Fury Suburban got 16-18 mpg mixed conditions. The boxy body didnt help highway miles. Even our ’70 Monte Carlo gt reasonable miles.

    But, when both traded in for a used ’72 Sedan DeVille in 1975, they were shocked at 8-10 mpg! Highest it ever got was a long raod trip out west, set cruise at 62mph, and get 16 mpg, wow! We sure missed the wagon’s room, but the Caddy was offered by Dad’s buddy who ran a used car lot. Dad sure missed the Monte, but it got rear ended when parked, and totaled, :-(

  • avatar
    Andy D

    My wife bought a ’75 version of this LTD wagon. 460, C6, Puke (avacado) green with faux wood trim. When it died , it was replaced with a series of 5 Grand Wagoneers. Faux wood til the end.

  • avatar
    guy922

    Growing up in Northeast Denver(Montbello) in the 80′s and 90′s, I still saw a good amount of these cars on the blocks of the neighborhood. When I was really small, my parents had a 1976 Grand Marquis Sedan. I loved that car. Cant remember if it was some type of brougham sedan or not. I love your features M.M. Keep em coming.


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