The Truth About Cars » station wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:00:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » station wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1983 Toyota Cressida Wagon, Salty Pacific Ocean Spray Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/junkyard-find-1983-toyota-cressida-wagon-salty-pacific-ocean-spray-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/junkyard-find-1983-toyota-cressida-wagon-salty-pacific-ocean-spray-edition/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 11:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1079161 Since we had some rusty Junkyard Finds recently and I just spent a couple of days driving around San Francisco looking at ocean-salt horror-story cars, let’s continue with the Toyota Rust theme and check out this frighteningly oxidized San Francisco Cressida. Cars in the non-mountainous regions of California mostly don’t rust much, unless they’re air-cooled […]

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40 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Since we had some rusty Junkyard Finds recently and I just spent a couple of days driving around San Francisco looking at ocean-salt horror-story cars, let’s continue with the Toyota Rust theme and check out this frighteningly oxidized San Francisco Cressida.
27 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Cars in the non-mountainous regions of California mostly don’t rust much, unless they’re air-cooled Volkswagens. Sometimes you’ll see old Detroit cars in California with rusted-out trunk floors (from rainwater leaking in during the winter) or rust beneath vinyl tops, but that’s about as bad as it gets… unless you live within a few blocks of the ocean. In that situation, you get salt spray kicked up by big waves, plus the constant damp and fog that neighborhoods right on the ocean get. The damage tends to start on top and work its way down. Eventually, a good-running Toyota becomes more of a rusty cheese grater and must be scrapped.

15 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

This Cressida has San Francisco N Zone residential parking permits stretching from 1994 through a couple months ago. The Richmond District gets plenty of salt and chilly fog, being one of those SF neighborhoods with summer high temperatures in the 40s.

01 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The owner of this car experimented with several types of rust-covering fillers. This appears to be Sculpey and Rustoleum.

29 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I got so obsessed with documenting the rust “repairs” that I neglected to shoot the interior of this car. The icky Children’s Interactive Expo T-shirt as a seat cover is the only interior shot I took.

21 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The 5M engine might still be a runner. Only one way to find out!

01 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 27 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 28 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 29 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 30 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 31 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 32 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 33 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 34 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 35 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 38 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 39 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 40 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Review: 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country (with video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-5-volvo-v60-cross-country-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-5-volvo-v60-cross-country-video/#comments Fri, 03 Apr 2015 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1030617 Volvo may not have invented the wagon but no company has as much dedication to the practical cargo hauler as the Swedish brand. With the new V60 Cross Country they have expanded to six wagons world-wide (V40, V40 Cross Country, V60, V60 Cross Country, V70 and XC70). Wagon fans sad that Volvo isn’t bringing their […]

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2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-004

Volvo may not have invented the wagon but no company has as much dedication to the practical cargo hauler as the Swedish brand. With the new V60 Cross Country they have expanded to six wagons world-wide (V40, V40 Cross Country, V60, V60 Cross Country, V70 and XC70). Wagon fans sad that Volvo isn’t bringing their smaller boxes to the USA may be relieved to know the V60 Cross Country is not replacing the V60. This means that for the first time in a long time, we have access to three Swedish wagons on our shores.

Exterior

Volvo is a company normally associated with safety and practicality. They are the comfy penny loafer of the luxury segment if you will. This Volvo is different. Rather than the boxy form-follows-function style we’re used to from Sweden, the V60 is more about style than practicality. The change is most noticeable in the rear where we get a hatch that is raked forward and a greenhouse that plunges and pinches toward the back. e still have a subtle hint of the Volvo “hips”, but the design has been smoothed and simplified since the 1999 S80 that started Volvo’s modern style.

For off-paved-road duty, Volvo jacked up V60’s ride height by 2.6 inches, added some silver trim here and there, swapped out the grille for a honeycomb-themed version and added some black wheel arches. Thus the oddly named V60 Cross Country was born. For reasons I don’t quite understand, the CC gets larger wheels (18-inch) narrower 50-series rubber. This should be your first hint that the CC is more soft-road than off-road focused. As you might expect from a car maker located in the north, the CC can be had with an electric heated windscreen ala Range Rover that speeds ice removal when the snowpocalypse returns. Perhaps it’s my preference towards wagons in general, but I think the the tweaks work on the CC, it retains the crisp style I appreciate on the V60 but adds just enough “rugged” style to differentiate it on the road.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior.CR2

Interior

For those that haven’t shopped for a Volvo wagon in a while, the Swedes continue to shuffle model numbers around. Once upon a time the wagon variant of the S60 was the V70 and the off-road version was the XC70. Today however the V70 and XC70 are based on the S80 wagon. The V50 was once the wagon version of the smaller S40 leaving just V60 available. Sounds logical, right? So an off-road modified V60 would be a XC60. Oops, that already exists. So Volvo dusted off their older “Cross Country” nomenclature, the same trim that ostensibly got shortened to “XC” a while back. Confused yet?

The V60’s is on the small side for this segment and that’s most noticeable in the rear where we have less legroom than you’ll find in the A4 and BMW 3-Series wagons. This is the key reason that Volvo will be bringing their stretched S60 sedan to America next year, sadly there is no word of a matching V60L.  Front seat accommodations are spacious, but still offer a less room than the Germans. One thing Volvo has consistently excelled at however is seat comfort. Front and rear seats are well padded and extremely comfortable. All 2015.5 Volvo models finally ditch the lumbar support knob for a 2-way power variety which is welcome, but not as adjustable as the 4-way competition. In an interesting twist, all CC models get a variant of the S60 and V60’s sport seats which offer exaggerated bolstering on the back and bottom cushions. I like the feel, but if you’re a larger person you may find them a little narrow.

The cargo area is where we see the consequence of Volvo’s sexy side profile. Behind the curvaceous hatch sits half the cargo capacity of an XC60 at just 15.2 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded it expands to 43.5, about half of what you find in the XC70. The cargo space is small enough that even the questionably practical BMW X4 has a little more room in the back. Audi’s allroad slots between the XC70 and V60 Cross Country in overall dimensions and cargo capacity.

2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-004

Infotainment

2015.5 doesn’t bring a larger screen or major UI changes to Volvo’s Sensus Connect but it does add a cell modem. The new “Connected” Sensus gives the driver access to online business searches, streaming media without a smartphone, OnStar-like telematics services (Volvo On Call) and access to Wikipedia. The service requires a data subscription to use the full range of services, but wisely Volvo decided to toss in a WiFi chipset so you can share your cell plan with passengers or use a paired smartphone for Sensus’ data connection if you’d rather not have another cell phone bill. Also along for the ride is a smartphone app to let you see if you locked your car, remote start the engine, or honk the horn and flash the lights if you’ve lost your car in the IKEA parking lot.

Volvo’s Sensus system continues to keep up with most of the entries in this segment by adding features to their snappy interface. The system is well laid out, intuitive, and oddly Volvo allows access to essentially everything while the vehicle is in motion. This allows passengers to enter information using the on-dash control-wheel without stopping the car. The driver can use the same knob, or a control wheel on the steering wheel to control system functions. The graphics, maps and voice commands aren’t quite as well done as iDrive and you can’t voice command your media library as you can in an Acura or Lincoln, but it is competitive with A3’s and allroad’s MMI and COMAND in the CLA and GLA.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Engine 2.5L 5-Cylinder-002

Drivetrain

Volvo’s slick 300HP turbocharged/supercharged engine is sadly incompatible with the V60’s AWD system. (The output to the rear axle is located in a different spot and would require modifications to the chassis.)  As a result, all 2015.5 Volvos with AWD use the company’s trued and true 5 and 6-cylinder engines and older 6-speed automatic. For CC duty, Volvo limits your engine choice to just the 250 HP 2.5L 5-cylinder engine which can crank out up to 295 lb-ft in overboost for a limited time. If you’d like Volvo’s smooth inline-6 turbo, you’ll have to step over to the regular V60 or the XC70. Thankfully Volvo chose to leave the anaemic 3.2L engine out of the V60’s engine compartment.

2015.5 beings new shift logic to the transaxle that significantly reduces shift time (and sacrifices some shift quality) when in “sport” mode. Despite receiving some efficiency tweaks a few years ago, the 2.5L’s fuel economy still lags behind the 3-Series wagon at 23 MPG combined. Sending power to the rear is the latest Haldex AWD system which can send up to 50% of the power to the rear axles at any time, and if wheel slip up front occurs the power transfer can exceed 90%.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior 18-inch Wheel

Drive

The new programming of the AWD and transmission in sport mode was instantly obvious behind the wheel compared to 2014 S60 T5 AWD I benchmarked back-to-back. The new AWD software  sends noticeably more power to the rear when flogging the CC on winding roads and  transmission shifts are considerably faster and firmer. The change in programming isn’t just about feel, it also took a quarter second off the 0-60 time without an increase in power. The Aisin 6-speed transaxle in Volvo’s product-line has always felt soft compared to the ZF 6-speeds that BMW and Audi used, but this software narrows the gap. The improved bundle scoots to 60 in 6.41 seconds, just under 3/10ths slower than a X4 xDrive28i (that review is coming up soon.)

With the V70 to XC70 transition the engineers softened the suspension, but they took a different path with the CC making this one of the firmer almost-crossover vehicles around. The suspension is more forgiving than the V60 R-Design, but significantly stiffer than the larger XC70 or the Audi allroad. This leads to impressive handling when compared to the allroad, XC70 or even the distant Subaru competition. Something along the lines of a BMW X4 or BMW 328i GT will feel more nimble without a doubt, but they are also significantly more expensive.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior

On the surface of things it would seem that the $41,000 V60 Cross Country commands a $4,000 premium over the V60, XC60 or XC70. That sounded logical to me at first, since BMW charges roughly the same to make the X3 less practical create the X4 from the X3. However, when you adjust for the standard AWD, 18-inch wheels, navigation, sport seats, LDS gauges, etc the CC actually ends up being slightly less than a comparable V60 and $1,500 less than the XC70 3.2. (Speaking of the XC70 and the 3.2, Volvo’s big wagon has a confusing engine line-up. Opt for FWD and you get their sweet four-cylinder turbo and new 8-speed auto. Get the middle-trim and you’re saddled with a wheezy naturally aspirated 3.2L engine, but pony up a little extra and you can get the same BMW-fighting twin-scroll turbo 3.0L engine as the V60 R-Design.)

Audi’s allroad is several thousand dollars more than the CC when similarly equipped and is even a slight premium over the XC70 despite being smaller. The rugged Audi handles well, but the Volvo weighs several hundred pounds less and that more than compensates for the less advantageous weight balance in the corners. While the BMW X4 and 3-Series GT may deliver superior handling, they also come with a superior price tag. A comparable X4 xDrive28i will set you back at least $8,000 more.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior-001

The Audi allroad and the Volvo XC70 are made for rural living with a Euro twist. The soft suspensions soak up poor pavement in the boonies, the AWD systems are sure-footed on dirt roads and you won’t bruise your kidneys if you decide to drive off the beaten path to check on your trendy alpaca herd. The V60 Cross Country has a different mission in mind. Like the X4 and 3-Series GT, this Volvo was made for folks that live down a short gravel road but drive on high-speed winding mountain roads for most of their commute. In other words, my demographic exactly.

Trouble is, as much fun as the Cross Country was to drive, and how perfectly it seemed tailored to my demographic, the XC60 or the XC70 make considerably more sense. Part of that has to do with the V60’s position as a “styling exercise” than a practical cargo hauler. The XC60 gives up less handling ability than you’d think with twice the cargo capacity and the XC70 gives you more thrust, more luxury, and, again: twice the cargo capacity. The 2015.5 V60 Cross Country is one of the best wagons ever sold in America, but I’d buy a XC70 T6 instead.

 

  Volvo provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.5 Seconds

0-60: 6.41 Seconds

1/4 Mile:15 Seconds @ 92 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 22 MPG

 

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-001.CR2 IMG_9582.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-0021 IMG_9581.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-011 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-010 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-009 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-008 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-007 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-005 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-006 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-002 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-003.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-003 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-004 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior Wood Trim-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior Wood Trim 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior LCD Gauges.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior LCD Gauges-001.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior Seat Controls 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior Volvo On Cal 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-004 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-003 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-002 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-002.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear-005 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-001.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear-004 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear-003 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear-002 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-001 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-002 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-003 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-004 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-005 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-006 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Engine 2.5L 5-Cylinder 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Engine 2.5L 5-Cylinder-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Engine 2.5L 5-Cylinder-002 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior 18-inch Wheel 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Front 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Front-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Front-002 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Front-003

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Junkyard Find: 1968 Saab 95 Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1968-saab-95-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1968-saab-95-station-wagon/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033705 The Saab 96 (and its station-wagon sibling, the 95) is one of those iconic cars that just about everybody claims to love, but few are willing to rescue. Most of the 96s in the country passed through the junkyard gates and into the recycled-metal continuum a couple of decades back, with only the nicest examples […]

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20 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Saab 96 (and its station-wagon sibling, the 95) is one of those iconic cars that just about everybody claims to love, but few are willing to rescue. Most of the 96s in the country passed through the junkyard gates and into the recycled-metal continuum a couple of decades back, with only the nicest examples deemed worthy of saving, but a few have hung on in side yards and cornfields long enough to show up in wrecking yards now. We saw this ’68 sedan in California last year, and now there’s this ’68 wagon in Denver.
19 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has the Ford Taunus V4, rather than the three-cylinder Saab two-stroke so beloved by those who have never driven a car powered by one (to be fair, I know some two-stroke Saab owners who do love driving their cars).
12 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThe gauges have that cool Saab airplane logo.
14 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinFour-on-the-tree diagram and cold-starting instructions are found on this dash sticker.
05 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinNo obvious signs of rust-through, and the interior isn’t too horrifying. After several months in this yard, still not many pieces have been plucked from this old Swede.

01 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Meanwhile In Japan, Toyota Reveals Corolla Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/meanwhile-japan-toyota-reveals-corolla-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/meanwhile-japan-toyota-reveals-corolla-wagon/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:11:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032673   Far away from the hubub of the New York Auto Show, Toyota has released a facelift for its station wagon version of the new Corolla. Of course, it’s not for us. The Toyota Corolla Fielder is a wagon variant of the JDM Corolla, which features different dimensions (namely, less width to make it easier to […]

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Far away from the hubub of the New York Auto Show, Toyota has released a facelift for its station wagon version of the new Corolla. Of course, it’s not for us.

The Toyota Corolla Fielder is a wagon variant of the JDM Corolla, which features different dimensions (namely, less width to make it easier to maneuver and less length to comply with Japanese tax regulations) and a different powertrain. A hybrid system is available as well. North America will soon get the Toyota Auris, a larger hatch that will be badged as the Scion iM. This Corolla though, might actually be more desirable.

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1989-buick-lesabre-estate-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1989-buick-lesabre-estate-wagon/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029577 The traditional full-size Detroit station wagon was in trouble by the end of the 1980s, thanks to the rise of the minivan. Increasingly car-like SUVs would kick the other leg out from under big rear-drive wagon sales during the 1990s, and so this great big GM B-platform wagon is one of the last of its […]

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02 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe traditional full-size Detroit station wagon was in trouble by the end of the 1980s, thanks to the rise of the minivan. Increasingly car-like SUVs would kick the other leg out from under big rear-drive wagon sales during the 1990s, and so this great big GM B-platform wagon is one of the last of its type. Look, it’s even a woodie!
04 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Buick Estate name goes way back in GM history. The version we’re looking at in this Northern California wrecking yard is from the final generation of the Estate Wagon, built on the downsized B platform for the 1977 through 1990 model years (after that, you could get a Roadmaster Estate).
09 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe “wood” on this car isn’t particularly convincing.
11 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe cassette deck came with auto-reverse, still a futuristic technology in the eyes of Buick customers in 1989.
14 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe non-wagon LeSabre had gone to the front-drive H-body platform by this time, which must have been a bit confusing for Buick shoppers.

02 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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A Modest Proposal: Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen 2.0T http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/modest-proposal-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-2-0t/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/modest-proposal-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-2-0t/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 17:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1024161 A Modest Proposal is a new feature where we advocate for more exciting variants of existing cars. Unlike other columns that do the same, we’ll take a look at products that actually stand a chance of making the business case, and how that can be met. I know, I know, not as fun as asking […]

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A Modest Proposal is a new feature where we advocate for more exciting variants of existing cars. Unlike other columns that do the same, we’ll take a look at products that actually stand a chance of making the business case, and how that can be met. I know, I know, not as fun as asking for cab-over rear drive vans and station wagons. If you want that, you’re in the wrong place. -DK

With the introduction of the MKV Volkswagen Jetta, VW re-introduced the much-loved GLI as a full member of the range (rather than the late cycle special edition of the MKIV). But in Canada, it took the GLI a full model year to be introduced. Canadian customers got a model dubbed the 2.0T that featured the same 2.0T engine, a sports suspension and 17″ wheels. Among from the 2.0T were the the 18″ wheels, low profile tires, bodykit and plaid fabric seats, all of which came on the GLI. It was basically a “normcore” GLI, and it ended up being the car that replaced my father’s 2003 BMW 530i.

In retrospect, it couldn’t have been a more perfect car for my Dad. It had all of the GLI’s sport bits (suspension, engine, the option of a DSG gearbox), but nothing overly juvenile (hard ride, big alloys, aero kit). It was astonishing value, costing thousands less than an equivalent Acura TSX, while offering performance more akin to the Subaru Legacy 2.5GT – but without the spartan interior.

Driving the Golf Sportwagen, particularly the 1.8TSI version, made me long for a version like the 2.0T. It would have just enough power and handling capabilities to be a a lot of fun in spirited, everyday driving. At the limit handling would be dialed back due to the need for a bit more comfort than you’d get from a GTI or Golf R, not to mention longer-wearing tires, but the stock chassis and suspension setup is most of the way there. The old 2.0T, at least in the first few years, was only available fully loaded. You got your choices of colors and transmissions, but that was it. In return for spending big bucks on a Jetta, you got everything VW had to offer at the time. This kind of packaging presumably cut down on assembly complexities and let VW make money on a smaller car by loading it with margin-rich features. I think the same formula would work on the Sportwagen as well. The 1.8TSI engine is adequate for the Sportwagen, but if you want more real world grunt, you have to step up to the diesel – and that’s not always an appealing option for American consumers.

Why not just go all out and make the case for a Golf Sportwagen R? Well, this is called “A Modest Proposal”. We’re here to discuss combinations and variants that stand a chance of making it into the lineup with minimal fuss and maximum payoff for the auto maker. A Golf R is a lot closer to $40,000 than the $30,000 price tag of a loaded up TDI Sportwagen. No matter how many people on the internet are clamoring for one, it pales in comparison to the number of people that would buy one. On the other hand, a 2.0T variant that doesn’t need all-wheel drive, can be built in Mexico and sold for somewhere just south of $35,000? Not nearly as exciting, but a lot more realistic.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:45:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020681 At the launch event for the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen in Austin, Texas, a chat with one gentleman from Volkswagen AG turns to a discussion of old Saab rally cars and his affinity for Swedish cars. The future of Saab seems up in the air, but in his mind, Volvo’s is more clear-cut. “These next few […]

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TSISE1

At the launch event for the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen in Austin, Texas, a chat with one gentleman from Volkswagen AG turns to a discussion of old Saab rally cars and his affinity for Swedish cars. The future of Saab seems up in the air, but in his mind, Volvo’s is more clear-cut. “These next few months will be crucial,” he says, as talk turns to the launch of the XC90, “this is their last chance to turn things around.”

By the end of the event, I’m convinced that VW has built a better Volvo than Volvo itself.

Last year, Volvo re-introduced the station wagon to American consumers on account of popular demand from the Volvo faithful. Apparently, the longer, larger and infinitely more practical XC70 isn’t a true station wagon thanks to a slightly higher ride height and a bit of cladding. Talk about the narcissism of small differences.

What we got was the V60, which is a fine car to drive, but a poor station wagon, when examined in the context of what a Volvo station wagon traditionally is; practical, with plenty of room for people and cargo, prioritizing utility over beauty. Again, the XC70 is a better wagon, but the Puritancial enthusiasts among us refuse to accept it as a wagon. The V60 is the inverse of that formula. As much as I liked driving it, it is simply too impractical and too expensive to recommend to most people.

The best solution now comes from Volkswagen, which offers something that fills the role of a traditional station wagon while costing literally half as much as a V60. The Golf Sportwagen takes the MQB platform of the Golf, GTI and Golf R and stretches it out a bit to create a proper wagon profile. The end result is a vehicle that keeps its car-like profile, while offering more cargo space than a Mazda CX-5 or Jeep Cherokee (30.6 cubic feet with the seats up, 66.5 with the seats down). Like every other MQB car I’ve sampled, there’s plenty of space in the back for passengers too. Certainly more than the V60, not to mention the Cherokee, which is unfortunately lacking in room for anyone over 6 feet tall.

On the road, the Golf Sportwagen has the minimum amount of engagement required to keep a keen driver engaged. As Jack said, the basic Golf is a remarkably composed car for something with a giant hole in the body structure. Extrapolate that to the wagon, which has a bigger hole in it, and you get an idea of what you’re dealing with here. There’s more body roll than one would like to experience in corners, and the steering is a bit light on both weight and feel, but having driven two examples with different wheel and tire packages, I suspect that good rubber would help remedy some of these issues. On the whole, it still sits on the right side of “fun to drive”.

The new 1.8T engine isn’t bad, but the diesel is a true gem. Like any diesel, it falls off towards the upper end of the rev range, but the low-end torque more than makes up for it. It’s also remarkably smooth for a compression-ignition engine, and only when you’re outside can you hear the signature “clackclackclack” that lets you know it’s an oil-burner. But that’s a small price to pay given the numbers: 150 horsepower, 236 lb-ft of torque and 31/43 mpg city highway (42 mpg if you opt for the DSG). For me, the diesel is the obvious choice. I like the low-end torque and the refined feel, but the TSI engine has a fair bit more oomph up to (170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft) and respectable fuel economy numbers(25/35 mpg with the automatic) and the TDI may not make economic sense for many drivers. Caveat emptor and all that.

The interior materials and quality appear to be head and shoulders above the competition. As my drive partner, Jalopnik’s Patrick George, said “getting into a Focus after a Golf is a lesson in abject disappointment.” I think it’s even better than the new A3, which really does look like a cut rate Audi. My main gripe is the antiquated looking infotainment system and the lack of a USB port. Both of those will be fixed for model year 2016, when Apple CarPlay and Android support will be added, as well as somewhere to plug your devices in. The overall styling of the car isn’t going to incite sexual arousal in any human being, but it looks elegant in a restrained sort of way, like a pretty girl does when wearing head to toe Ann Taylor. It will age well, if nothing else.

My ideal Sportwagen would have the 2.0T out of the GTI, but for now, I find myself desiring a TDI Sportwagen with a 6-speed. It is the ultimate in cerebral compromise. A base TSI wagon starts at $21,395, while a TDI wagon starts at around $26,000. Loaded examples of both gasoline and diesel Sportwagens just avoid the $30k mark. you’ll have to wait until 2016 to get an all-wheel drive Golf. Volvo will sell you an AWD wagon right now, and it will have a much more powerful engine. Even so, the Sportwagen’s sticker price is nearly half that of the V60, but it in no way is it half the car.

The Sportwagen could conceivably do everything you would ever want in a passenger car, and never find yourself wanting for more. Ok, maybe something with more sex appeal, but like I said, it is the ultimate car to appeal to your head. If it’s the heart you’re after, you may want to look at something entirely different than a station wagon. Then again, if VW wanted to put their 2.0L turbo engines under the hood, the case for buying a V60 would evaporate, since a T6 Volvo wouldn’t be any faster than a GTI powered Sportwagen.

When Patrick asked the same gentleman who he thought VW competed with in the United States, he suggested Subaru (pronounced Soo-BAH-roo) and Honda. Volvo was not mentioned. But if the upcoming Tiguan and Passat (which will both be built on MQB) are this good, Volvo may have some competition for the XC60 and S60 as well.

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Volvo 145 Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1973-volvo-145-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1973-volvo-145-station-wagon/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1014482 If you listen to those who claim to love the Volvo 140, every example of the breed is extremely valuable and must be saved… and yet there’s a greater disparity between the Talking The Talk Quotient (TTTQ) and the Walking The Walk Quotient (WTWQ) seen among self-proclaimed Volvo fanatics than found among aficionados of any […]

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15 - 1973 Volvo 145 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you listen to those who claim to love the Volvo 140, every example of the breed is extremely valuable and must be saved… and yet there’s a greater disparity between the Talking The Talk Quotient (TTTQ) and the Walking The Walk Quotient (WTWQ) seen among self-proclaimed Volvo fanatics than found among aficionados of any other marque. Yes, the TTTQ:WTWQ value approaches something like 100:1 when it comes to the poor old Volvo 140, a car whose basic design lived on well into the 1990s (in the form of the 140-descendent 240), and so almost none of these cars get rescued when they get down-at-the-heels (and the same goes for 240s). Here’s a San Francisco Bay Area 145 that shows signs of being well-cared-for during its first 15 years and then forgotten in a side yard for the following quarter-century.
18 - 1973 Volvo 145 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn this series so far, we’ve seen quite a few 140s, including this ’68 142, this ’69 145, this ’71 144, and this ’71 142. (plus there’s this bonus 164, which was based on the 140).
07 - 1973 Volvo 145 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car was full of registration receipts, smog-check certificates, and other stuff dating from the middle 1970s to the late 1980s. I didn’t find anything newer than that, so odds are that the car broke and then sat outdoors for decades.
01 - 1973 Volvo 145 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt appears that the car’s owner did a lot of camping and outdoor-type activities. Most of the maps date from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
14 - 1973 Volvo 145 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNow that’s what your organized Volvo owner does!
29 - 1973 Volvo 145 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou need to know what the weather is like when you’re heading to Mt. Lassen, and so you need this Radio Shack weather-band radio that transmits through the car’s AM radio.
19 - 1973 Volvo 145 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFour-wheel disc brakes were extremely rare on US-market vehicles when the first 140s appeared for the 1967 model year, and even front disc brakes weren’t universal as late as the early 1970s.
26 - 1973 Volvo 145 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlanning makes your camping trip go better!
StreetViewI thought I’d removed all the identifying stuff in the photos, but couple of readers were able to figure out the car’s former address (from a photograph of registration paperwork that I’d missed) and find it on Google Street View. I’ve removed that photograph (don’t want enraged Volvo fanatics tracking down the former owner), but have now added a photo of the car before it got towed away— MM.

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford LTD II Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992610 In one of those confusing branding moves that’s up there with the baffling Toyota Corolla Tercel, Ford decided to name a Torino-based midsize car the LTD II while keeping the regular full-sized LTD. This went on for the 1977 and 1978 model years, and then for 1979 the “big” LTD went to the Panther platform […]

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08 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn one of those confusing branding moves that’s up there with the baffling Toyota Corolla Tercel, Ford decided to name a Torino-based midsize car the LTD II while keeping the regular full-sized LTD. This went on for the 1977 and 1978 model years, and then for 1979 the “big” LTD went to the Panther platform and sold alongside LTD IIs for that year. Why? Well, that’s like asking why Henry Ford II refused Soichiro Honda’s offer of cheap CVCC engines for the Fiesta a few years before! Anyway, here’s an extremely green first-year LTD II wagon (not a Country Squire, which was based on the larger “regular” LTD) that I spotted in Northern California a couple weeks back.
03 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDo you like green interiors, and by that I mean large expanses of petrochemical-residue-exhaling I Can Totally Believe It’s Not Leather™ vinyl that still looks good and vivid after nearly 40 years of California sun?
02 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car has you covered! This car’s seats would make nice garage couches.
13 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFord sent out 23 million of these recall-evading stickers, thanks to the generosity of Ronald Reagan, and thus didn’t go bankrupt in the early 1980s. Most owners didn’t apply them, but this car’s circa-1982 owner did.
04 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe engine compartment had a bit of a fire problem.
19 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe can assume this car was earning its keep until the day of the fire.

Ford didn’t hesitate to pitch the big LTD as more car for the money. Look, bigger than a Cadillac, yet cheaper!

As for the LTD II: if you’re a sporty guy with a sporty mustache, the “trimmer” LTD II is for you!

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Dodge Aspen Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1977-dodge-aspen-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1977-dodge-aspen-station-wagon/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968594 Commonplace as the Dodge Aspen was during the Middle and Late Malaise Era— you saw them on American roads in 1980 or so about as often as you’d see, say, Hyundai Accents today. The Aspen (and its Plymouth sibling, the Volaré) didn’t hold their value so well, and nearly all of them were crushed by […]

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13 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCommonplace as the Dodge Aspen was during the Middle and Late Malaise Era— you saw them on American roads in 1980 or so about as often as you’d see, say, Hyundai Accents today. The Aspen (and its Plymouth sibling, the Volaré) didn’t hold their value so well, and nearly all of them were crushed by the early 1990s. I photograph them whenever I see them, of course, but that isn’t often. In this series before today, we’ve seen this ’76 Aspen sedan, this ’76 Volaré sedan, this brown-on-beige ’77 Volaré coupe and this ’77 Volaré Premier wagon, and now we’ve got a mossy, lichen-covered Northern California Aspen wagon.
07 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe winters in the San Francisco Bay Area are cold and wet, and a car that spends a few years (or maybe a couple of decades) parked in shade will gather moss.
20 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAnd, much like cars that spend years in the birch forests of northern Sweden, this car has provided a home for lichens.
10 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThink the 318 under the hood is still good? Probably so, but these engines get few takers these days.
06 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSuch an expanse of brown vinyl!

Better than a Nova? That’s a tough call.

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Mercedes-Benz Releases Automotive Rorschach Test http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-releases-automotive-rorschach-test/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-releases-automotive-rorschach-test/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:09:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950993   The collective distaste for the Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA is known among the B&B and the wider automotive world – but now, Mercedes has dropped a collective bomb on the psyche of enthusiasts everywhere. A reflexive love of all things station wagon/shooting brake pervades the gearhead mentality. Will they accept a station wagon version […]

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Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Shooting Brake (X 117) 2014

 

The collective distaste for the Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA is known among the B&B and the wider automotive world – but now, Mercedes has dropped a collective bomb on the psyche of enthusiasts everywhere.

A reflexive love of all things station wagon/shooting brake pervades the gearhead mentality. Will they accept a station wagon version of the Mercedes CLA? Mechanically, it’s identical to the standard car, and the sloping roofline might even make it less practical than the GLA in terms of cargo hauling ability. But it’s suitably obscure enough to send a tingle through the loins of the kind of enthusiast that professes their adoration for the wagon, but fails to buy them when they are released for sale on our shores.

 

Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Shooting Brake (X 117) 2014 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Shooting Brake (X 117) 2014 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Shooting Brake (X 117) 2014 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Shooting Brake (X 117) 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (X117) 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (X117) 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (X117) 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (X117) 2014 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Shooting Brake (X 117) 2014

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Junkyard Find: 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Colony Park Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1985-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-colony-park-woodie-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1985-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-colony-park-woodie-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938577 The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was […]

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13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was uncommon then and near-extinct now. I do see some Ford LTD Country Squires in wrecking yards nowadays— this ’86 woodie and this ’87 woodie, for example— but this Colony Park is the first I’ve seen in at least a decade.
01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis generation of Colony Park wasn’t quite as majestic as its 1950s and 1960s predecessors, but it also got about twice as many miles per gallon as those barges.
11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good old familiar 302-cubic-inch Windsor V8, still fitted with a carburetor in 1985, powered this wagon.
25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights!
17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis fender trim has a very maze-like shape.
08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAre there little speakers in the steering wheel, or are those holes merely decorative?
10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Colorado sun has not been kind to these leather seats.

The Grand Marquis kicked some Buick and Oldsmobile butt, to hear Mercury tell it.

01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Capsule Review: 2014 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-volvo-v60-t6-r-design/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-volvo-v60-t6-r-design/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 20:45:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=919634 Is it really necessary to beat the dead horse again? We know that enthusiasts love wagons, demand more wagons, praise wagons and don’t buy wagons. We should be lucky we have any wagons left in our marketplace. The Audi A4 and Subaru Legacy wagons gave way to the Allroad and Outback, two jacked-up, cladding-encrusted faux-crossovers that […]

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2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-side-profile

Is it really necessary to beat the dead horse again? We know that enthusiasts love wagons, demand more wagons, praise wagons and don’t buy wagons. We should be lucky we have any wagons left in our marketplace. The Audi A4 and Subaru Legacy wagons gave way to the Allroad and Outback, two jacked-up, cladding-encrusted faux-crossovers that are really just wagons by another name. Volvo did the same thing too, axing the V70 wagon while retaining the XC70. And then they relented.

2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-rear-badge

Volvo is pitching the V60 as a “sport wagon” or a “lifestyle” vehicle, or anything but a station wagonIn terms of hauling people and cargo, the XC70 is more of a station wagon than the V60 is. At 182 inches long, the V60 is about 10 inches shorter than an XC70, and the XC70 has it beat in practically every interior dimension. Cargo capacity for the V60 is 43.8 cubic feet, compared to 72.1 for the XC70.

2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-rear-seats

As we determined in our last review of the XC70, the oft-repeated trope that CUVs offer inferior driving dynamics compared to station wagons was dismissed – between an XC60 with the 4C active shocks and an XC70, it was a wash. The V6 has the advantage of being, on average, 300 lbs lighter than the XC60, and the performance tires on the R-Design amplifies whatever benefits the lighter weight and smaller footprint contributes to the V60’s dynamics.

2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-infotainment-1

Of course, this is a Volvo, so don’t expect crisp, Germanic responses or the last word in steering feel and feedback. The V60 gives you enough rope to have some fun on twisty back roads or cloverleaf interchanges, but between the all-wheel drive system, the electronic nannies and the understeer-oriented chassis, there’s never enough to hang yourself. Much like the S60 that it’s based on, the V60 is best drive at a relaxed to moderately spirited pace.

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Lesser V60s can be had with boosted 4 and 5 cylinder engines, but the R-Design features a 3.0L straight-six (transversely mounted), making 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. With a broad, fairly flat torque curve, the Volvo’s engine delivers lots of usable power throughout the rev range. A hint of lag is the tradeoff for a brawny motor that doesn’t run out of breath at higher RPMs, much like today’s lesser crop of boosted mills tend to do, though the biggest letdown is the dated 6-speed automatic, which is on its own, more relaxed work schedule.

2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-drivers

The V60’s interior is an oasis from the over-complicated, touch screen and leatherette-laden cabins of many German competitors. Volvo is still all-in on buttons and knobs, while the climate control system incorporates a hand diagram of a seated human that can direct airflow to various regions of your body. The infotainment system is simple to use and can be navigated while driving without becoming overly distracted. The stereo is crisp and clear while the front seats are some of the best in the business. When wrecked V60s start appear in junkyards, I’ll be harvesting one of the front seats to turn into my next office chair.

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Where the V60 starts to fall apart is in, well, being a wagon. There’s not a ton of room for rear seat passengers, and the swoopy, coupe-like silhouette and compact footprint lend the wagon an undersized cargo area. Two adults could each pack a suitcase for a weekend visit, but this is not the Volvo wagon of yore where a whole family’s worth of luggage, people and pets could be stuffed in and taken away on summer vacation. For that, you’ll need to XC70, or one of Volvo’s crossovers.

$51,775 is a lot of coin simply for the privilege of having a cool looking station wagon that isn’t exactly great at fulfilling the promises of a station wagon. You don’t need to be Tim Cain to understand that it’s not the most potent recipe for sales success.

2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-drivers 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-front-3q 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-front-3q-far 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-headlight-2 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-infotainment-1 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-instrument 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-interior 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-main 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-rear-3q-high 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-rear-3q-low 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-rear-badge 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-rear-profile 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-rear-seats 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-side-profile 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-steering-wheel 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-trunk-space 2015-Volvo-V60-R-Design-wheels

Volvo provided the car, insurance and one tank of gas for the review. Photos courtesy of Autoguide.com

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Paris 2014: Volkswagen Takes The Golf Wagon Outback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-volkswagen-takes-golf-wagon-outback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-volkswagen-takes-golf-wagon-outback/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 18:10:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917882 This is the second time that Volkswagen has trotted out a butch-looking station wagon-on-stilts under the Alltrack moniker. The last version, a Passat, debuted at the 2012 New York Auto Show. This newest version is based on the Golf Wagon, and packs TDI diesel or turbocharged gasoline engines. Haldex AWD is standard. While the Alltrack […]

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This is the second time that Volkswagen has trotted out a butch-looking station wagon-on-stilts under the Alltrack moniker. The last version, a Passat, debuted at the 2012 New York Auto Show.

This newest version is based on the Golf Wagon, and packs TDI diesel or turbocharged gasoline engines. Haldex AWD is standard. While the Alltrack is confirmed for the European market, I’m wondering about the chances for this model coming to North America. VW showed an all-wheel drive Golf Wagon at the 2014 New York Auto Show, but this seems like a more likely option, given the success of the Subaru Outback.

golf_alltrack_01 golf_alltrack_02 golf_alltrack_03 golf_alltrack_06_0

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-tercel-sr5-4wd-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-tercel-sr5-4wd-wagon/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914002 I’ve owned quite a few Tercel wagons of this generation (though most of mine were the common-in-California front-wheel-drive type), and I respect these things for their simplicity, cargo capacity, and reliability. True, they were underpowered and not exactly inspiring to drive, but they could be very lovable. Living in Denver, I see these cars just […]

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20 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ve owned quite a few Tercel wagons of this generation (though most of mine were the common-in-California front-wheel-drive type), and I respect these things for their simplicity, cargo capacity, and reliability. True, they were underpowered and not exactly inspiring to drive, but they could be very lovable. Living in Denver, I see these cars just about every time I hit the junkyard, but mostly they don’t seem special enough to merit photographing. Realizing that this one is 30 years old, however, inspired me to pull out the camera.
17 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSold in New Mexico, died in Colorado. There’s some rust, but more of the paint-burned-off/snow-buildup variety than the cancerous Midwestern type,
18 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou are awesome!
19 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe notorious “ice maker” next to the license plate. I’ve never been fully clear on what you got with the SR5 package, which was available on just about everything Toyota sold in the 1980s.
06 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 3A engine was harder to kill than rats and cockroaches combined.
04 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBecause the driver had to select front- or four-wheel-drive manually, many owners of these no-center-differential-equipped cars tore up tires and/or wore out drivetrain components by driving 365 days a year on dry pavement in the 4WD setting. Probably most of those Tercel 4WD owners bought Subarus after this happened.
05 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith the air conditioning turned off, you were jamming econo.
09 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI was able to skip chaining up when driving Donner pass in the winter in FWD Tercels, simply by picking up this emblem at the junkyard and adding it to my cars. Easiest 4WD conversion ever!

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Piston Slap: Why So Uncool Minivan? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-uncool-minivan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-uncool-minivan/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:07:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=908561   Josh writes: What is the deal with minivans? I was thinking the other day that as an outdoor person, minivan’s are perfect. They have lots of room for people and gear, AWD (in some cases), lots of roof space, and better MPG’s than an SUV. But apparently I can’t own one because they’re not […]

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1972 Ford Carousel (photo courtesy: forum.chryslerminivan.net)

Josh writes:

What is the deal with minivans? I was thinking the other day that as an outdoor person, minivan’s are perfect. They have lots of room for people and gear, AWD (in some cases), lots of roof space, and better MPG’s than an SUV. But apparently I can’t own one because they’re not cool. I could get a wagon though. Isn’t a minivan just a super-sized wagon?

Will minivans ever be cool to own?

Sajeev answers:

What’s the deal with minivans? From public perception, CUV popularity, fleet usage, etc. the “uncool minivan” is indeed a sad reality.  But there is plenty to love here on TTAC, from the Farago era to something brilliantly Baruthian.  My second favorite rental vehicle was the 3.6L Pentastar Caravan: it was quick and comfortable with chassis/suspension/steering components ready to play. No surprise, my fav rental was a white 2011 Crown Vic. But I digress…

Isn’t a minivan just a super-sized wagon?  Not really, even if they (kinda) ended the station wagon era. Uncool minivans are a radical rethink: eschewing the traditional notions of the family wagon and the creepster’s van with the adoption of a modern front-wheel drive layout (Aerostar and Astro notwithstanding) for maximum utilization of a traditional two box design, while adding the styling of a family sedan/wagon for curb appeal. Supposedly the Chrysler minivan’s early concepts were lifted from Ford’s work in the early 1970s: possible since Lee Iacocca famously left FoMoCo after butting heads with Henry II far too many times, and took some design staffers with him…though that’s the subject of some controversy.

Will minivans ever be cool to own? Keep in mind the Minivan was and remains an enlightened design: that will attract people. Just like so many Pistonheads go nuts over vintage wagons these days (especially with wheels you’d expect on a restomod ’69 Camaro), the uncool minivan will come back to win our hearts.

Until then, who gives a crap what people think? Go buy one and brush off the haters, no matter what they say!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Junkyard Find: 1970 Ford Fairlane 500 Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1970-ford-fairlane-500-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1970-ford-fairlane-500-station-wagon/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=888105 We haven’t seen a Ford Fairlane in this series since this ’65 sedan, way back in 2010. We see station wagons here all the time, of course, the last couple being this ’66 Toyota crown and this ’86 Nissan Maxima. Our most recent Detroit station wagon Junkyard Find was this ’72 Pinto (or this ’60 […]

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18 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe haven’t seen a Ford Fairlane in this series since this ’65 sedan, way back in 2010. We see station wagons here all the time, of course, the last couple being this ’66 Toyota crown and this ’86 Nissan Maxima. Our most recent Detroit station wagon Junkyard Find was this ’72 Pinto (or this ’60 Valiant, if you don’t consider the Pinto to be a proper Detroit station wagon). This ’70 Fairlane is rare indeed; I can’t recall having seen any midsize Ford wagon of this vintage on the street or in the junkyard for many years.
17 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s a lot of nostalgia for the big American family wagons among some of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, though most of those cars are the full-sized machines built on the Galaxie/Impala/Fury/Ambassador platforms, not the smaller midsize ones such as this Fairlane. My family never had a station wagon, preferring the Chevy Beauville passenger van as our family-outing-mobile.
10 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWindsor V8 with an enormous AC compressor, the same thing you saw under the hoods of millions of Fairlanes, Montegos, Torinos, Cyclones, and Rancheros of the era.
01 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one took kids to soccer practice 40 years ago.
05 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGuam pride!
06 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s not rusty and wouldn’t be a huge challenge to restore, but the love of old wagons among Generation X types hasn’t translated into much real-world willingness to spend money and time fixing them up.

The ’68 was an earlier generation of this platform, but it had the same “action size” as the ’70.

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Junkyard Find: 1966 Toyota Crown Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1966-toyota-crown-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1966-toyota-crown-station-wagon/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=883074 I spent a week in Sweden back in June, and I’m only now getting caught up on the photos I shot of interesting machinery at the Bloms Bilskrot yard, located in Söråker. We saw this ’63 Ford Taunus 17M a while back, there was this straight-outta-1978-San Diego customized ’69 Econoline van, and now we’re going […]

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07 - 1966 Toyota Crown Station Wagon Down On the JunkyardI spent a week in Sweden back in June, and I’m only now getting caught up on the photos I shot of interesting machinery at the Bloms Bilskrot yard, located in Söråker. We saw this ’63 Ford Taunus 17M a while back, there was this straight-outta-1978-San Diego customized ’69 Econoline van, and now we’re going to admire one of the earliest Toyotas sold in Europe.
03 - 1966 Toyota Crown Station Wagon Down On the JunkyardThe S40 Toyota Crown was built from 1962 through 1967. I’m not sure of the exact year of this one, but it appears that the earlier European Crowns were badged as Toyopets. Since this one has Toyota badging, I’m assuming it’s a 1966 or 1967.
06 - 1966 Toyota Crown Station Wagon Down On the JunkyardWith a pushrod 3R and well under 100 horses under the hood, this big (for Europe) wagon must have required a lot of patience on the part of the driver.
05 - 1966 Toyota Crown Station Wagon Down On the JunkyardLichens and moss have colonized the interior, and the missing windshield provides access for birch leaves and pine needles to create rich mulch. Anything soft in this car’s interior is a complete write-off.
01 - 1966 Toyota Crown Station Wagon Down On the JunkyardThese cars were sold in the United States as well, but they were extremely rare in the 1960s and close to nonexistent now.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Nissan Maxima Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877490 One thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maximas in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland […]

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04 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maximas in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland self-serve yard.
03 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis was just a few years before the Infiniti brand hit these shores, and the Maxima (like the Toyota Cressida) was seeming less luxurious compared to the competition as the decade of the 1980s wore on.
12 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI found an excellent addition to my collection of heartfelt notes to tow-truck drivers in this car.
10 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe paint is faded, but the interior isn’t so bad.

A powerful rebuttal to the notion of compromise.

As always, the US got the most boring commercials for Japanese cars.

WHOOOOOOSH! Super Sonic Suspension!

01 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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The Atlantic Pays Tribute To America’s Automobile: The Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/the-atlantic-pays-tribute-to-americas-automobile-the-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/the-atlantic-pays-tribute-to-americas-automobile-the-station-wagon/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 16:42:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861737 This summer marks two years since my impulse-buy manual Volvo wagon departed in favor of an impulse-buy Miata. I will hopefully make the same mistake again, assuming I can find a nicely maintained (for a change) manual wagon, and I don’t buy a Fiesta ST. Or perhaps, we’ll see the wagon come back into the […]

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1024px-Oldsmobile_Custom_Cruiser

This summer marks two years since my impulse-buy manual Volvo wagon departed in favor of an impulse-buy Miata. I will hopefully make the same mistake again, assuming I can find a nicely maintained (for a change) manual wagon, and I don’t buy a Fiesta ST. Or perhaps, we’ll see the wagon come back into the collective consciousness of American consumers?

Writing in The Atlantic, Charles Moss laments the demise of the American station wagon, taking us through the history of the wagon, its eventual usurping at the hands of the CUV and the lasting influence of its aesthetics on the automotive landscape. Rather than spoiling the article, I’ll direct your attention to the comments section, where numerous Millenial commenters (with families) display their displeasure with the minivan, a vehicle that Moss blames as one of the chief architects of the wagon’s demise. There’s also a smattering of wagon love sprinkled throughout, including the Jetta TDI contingent.

The only missing link in the article? The unintended consequences of CAFE, and how it pushed auto makers to kill off wagons in favor of everyone’s favorite anti-environmental object, the SUV.

Side note: I had no idea Oldsmobile sold a B-Body wagon. It turns out that the Custom Cruiser was never sold in Canada.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1978-toyota-corolla-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1978-toyota-corolla-wagon/#comments Mon, 26 May 2014 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=830033 The third-gen Corolla was the car that made Toyota in the Unites States; you saw the occasional Corona or Celica and maybe a rare Crown once in a while before the mid-70s, but the 1974-79 Corolla was the first Toyota that sold in sufficient quantity to make the marque an everyday sight on American streets. […]

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20 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe third-gen Corolla was the car that made Toyota in the Unites States; you saw the occasional Corona or Celica and maybe a rare Crown once in a while before the mid-70s, but the 1974-79 Corolla was the first Toyota that sold in sufficient quantity to make the marque an everyday sight on American streets. These cars rusted fast east of the Rockies and— once they got to be 15 or so years old— weren’t worth fixing when they got ugly in the non-rusty parts of the country. That makes them fairly rare in junkyards today; in this series so far, we’ve seen this ’76 Corolla liftback and this ’74 Corolla two-door, and that’s about it prior to today’s find.
11 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost cars don’t rust much in single-digit-humidity Colorado, but these cars were very eager oxidizers.
23 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe High Plains sun is hard on paint.
13 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 75-horse 2T-C engine was a sturdy, if noisy, pushrod unit.
15 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAir-conditioning was a rare option on these cars, because frugal buyers of gas-sippers didn’t mind a little sweat. I’ll bet it felt like someone pulling the parking brake when you activated the cold air in this car.
05 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis looks like an aftermarket setup.
03 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRear defrost! Rear wiper! Even most Country Squire owners didn’t get that stuff!

This ad was hitting Chrysler below the belt.

Didn’t Lee Iacocca use the “if you can find a better car, buy it” line a few years later?

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1972-ford-pinto-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1972-ford-pinto-wagon/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=825650 There was a time, say from about 1973 through 1983— a timespan that corresponds exactly with the Malaise Era— when the Ford Pinto was one of the most numerous cars on America’s roads. You saw way more Pintos than Vegas, Chevettes, Corollas, Civics, Omnis, just about any small car you can name. When I was […]

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08 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was a time, say from about 1973 through 1983— a timespan that corresponds exactly with the Malaise Era— when the Ford Pinto was one of the most numerous cars on America’s roads. You saw way more Pintos than Vegas, Chevettes, Corollas, Civics, Omnis, just about any small car you can name. When I was in high school, the Pinto was one of the cheapest first-car options available for wheels-hungry teenagers; you could get an ugly runner for a C-note, any day of the week. The Pinto wasn’t a good car, but it wasn’t intolerable by the (admittedly low) compact-car standards of its time. Then, rather suddenly, all the Pintos disappeared. The Crusher grew fat on Pinto flesh, then switched to Hyundai Excels. They’re rare finds in wrecking yards today, and we’ve seen just this ’74 hatchback in this series prior to today. During a recent trip to Northern California, I found this early Pinto wagon, short quite a few parts but still exuding its essential Pinto-ness.
11 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSome bottom-feeder East Bay car dealership hoped to sell this “perfect classic” for $1,499, but was not successful.
04 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMore than 20 years ago, I grabbed every early-70s Fasten Seat Belt light I could find, for an ambitious project that I’ll complete someday. I have many examples of this Ford version.
06 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe hood once had some sort of JC Whitney hood scoop, which was made quasi-functional by the rectangular hole.
05 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s no telling what sort of connection went between the scoop and the carburetor, because everything above the engine block is long gone.

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The strength to climb the Rockies and the brakes to stop quickly on Los Angeles freeways.


From the Model T to the Pinto!


The little carefree car that could withstand a rank of giant fans placed at the roadside.


A few years later, Jackie Stewart boasted that the Pinto was faster than the Datsun B210, the Toyota Corolla, and the Honda Civic.

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagovan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-honda-civic-4wd-wagovan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-honda-civic-4wd-wagovan/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=810810 Before Subaru finally nailed down the sales-clinching formula for a car that had four-wheel-drive but didn’t seem too truck-like, all the major Japanese car manufacturers took at shot at building little sedans and wagons with power going to all the wheels. Since I live in Colorado, I get to see examples of each of those […]

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17 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBefore Subaru finally nailed down the sales-clinching formula for a car that had four-wheel-drive but didn’t seem too truck-like, all the major Japanese car manufacturers took at shot at building little sedans and wagons with power going to all the wheels. Since I live in Colorado, I get to see examples of each of those 1980s efforts, most of which didn’t result in much showroom action but are still pretty interesting today. In this series, we’ve seen a Camry All-Trac, quite a few Corolla All-Tracs, lots of Tercel 4WD wagons, countless elderly Subarus, and so on. The Honda Shuttle aka Civic Wagovan shows up in Denver wrecking yards as well, and I don’t bother to photograph most of them. This late Wagovan with the futuristic “Real-Time” four-wheel-drive system, however, is a rare find even in Colorado.
26 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinReal-Time 4WD didn’t require the driver to throw a lever or push a button when snow or mud threatened, and thus you didn’t have to worry about leaving the car in four-wheel-drive on dry asphalt and tearing up the tires (or worse). Of course, there was a fuel-economy penalty for using a center differential and driving all four wheels all the time, but Subaru proved that this doesn’t hurt sales.
22 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere are emblems boasting of this technology all over the car.
03 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ’88 4WD Wagovan also got a super-low (I assume that’s what the “SL” stands for) first-gear, which was probably great for climbing steep driveways and busting CV joints.
12 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinUnder the hood, the pretty-potent-for-1988 106-horse D16A6.
02 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNearly 180,000 miles. No rust on the body, interior not too bad, so my guess is that a blown head gasket doomed this car.

I couldn’t find any Japanese-market ads with the screeching tires and macho voiceovers that the Civic Shuttle deserved.


At least they still appreciate the 4WD Wagovan in Sweden.

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Junkyard Find: 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1960-plymouth-valiant-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1960-plymouth-valiant-station-wagon/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=808866 By my calculations, we will stop seeing Chrysler A bodies in wrecking yards by about the year 2109; so far in this series we’ve seen this ’61 Valiant, this ’63 Dart, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, […]

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12 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy my calculations, we will stop seeing Chrysler A bodies in wrecking yards by about the year 2109; so far in this series we’ve seen this ’61 Valiant, this ’63 Dart, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, and today I’m adding a first-year Valiant wagon that sat abandoned for about 40 years before being sent to a California self-serve yard.
18 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHow do I know it sat for that long? From the yellowed but otherwise intact stack of 1970 newspapers I found in the back. Here’s the first paragraph of the Herb Caen column from the February 25, 1970 San Francisco Chronicle. Those damn Traditional Hippies (Caen invented the term “hippie”), donating blood for the SFPD! My very first job was delivering the Chronicle on my Schwinn, about 8 years after this issue came out, so it was cool to find this paper.
05 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Slant-6 engine was fairly modern in 1960. I can’t tell a 170 from a 225 by glancing at it, but the 170 was more common in the early Valiants. Someday I will buy an NOS Slant-6 scale model.
01 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is pretty well cooked from those decades in the California sun.
11 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe early Valiant wagon had some interesting body lines.
27 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAll right, back to the 2/25/70 newspaper! Here’s an ad for the 70 Plymouth Duster, complete with cartoon woman in psychedelic bell-bottoms.
22 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAn unusual time to announce the somewhat delayed second-gen Camaro. Stewart Chevrolet is still around, though not in San Francisco.
33 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinConservative columnist Joseph Alsop had some concerns about Nixon’s plan to abolish the draft, citing Philip II of Macedonia.
32 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNews stories out of the Middle East haven’t changed much in 44 years, although big-nosed caricatures of Arabs in American editorial cartoons have been toned down a bit since then. Also, busing nowadays isn’t quite the issue it was in 1970.
21 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou don’t see help-wanted ads separated by gender these days.
28 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember Gordo and his cat, Poosy Gato? Only if you’re old.
24 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHow about a sharp ’65 Chrysler for $595?
09 - 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, old newspapers in junked cars are quite interesting, as we saw with this 1982 Denver Post I found in the trunk of a 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air. Just think of all the big news stories that happened while this Valiant sat, forgotten, in a back yard or driveway since the early 1970s. Soon it will return to the steel from which it came.

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1984-oldsmobile-firenza-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1984-oldsmobile-firenza-wagon/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=781729 Of all the GM J-bodies sold in America, the Olds Firenza may be the rarest. In 1984, most Oldsmobile wagon shoppers wanted a stately rear-wheel-drive behemoth with a V8 engine, not some newfangled small wagon with a little communist-inspired four-cylinder engine driving the wrong wheels. Thus, Firenza wagons are rarer today than early AC Cobras. […]

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05 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOf all the GM J-bodies sold in America, the Olds Firenza may be the rarest. In 1984, most Oldsmobile wagon shoppers wanted a stately rear-wheel-drive behemoth with a V8 engine, not some newfangled small wagon with a little communist-inspired four-cylinder engine driving the wrong wheels. Thus, Firenza wagons are rarer today than early AC Cobras. Here’s one that I found in a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard last weekend, while I was in town for the fifth annual Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons.
02 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the 2.0 liter version of the GM 122 pushrod engine. The 122 was a little less thrashy and rattly than the Iron Duke, but it also made less power. This LQ5 put out 86 horsepower, which was pretty miserable even by 1984 standards.
23 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHowever, at least this car had genuine electronic fuel injection. And not-so-genuine “wood paneling.”
19 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBrown-and-tan velour bucket seats.
03 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last owner of this car must have had glaucoma or some other illness that requires the completely legitimate application of medical cannabis. If Mr. ex-Firenza Driver lived in my state, of course, he could just throw away the medical card, ride his Lambretta to the local dispensary, and buy some shatter hash.
20 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI must assume that this pin was applied when the car still had That New GM Velour Smell.
25 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSay what you will about the early J-bodies, but at least this one outlived most of its Japanese peers.

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