By on September 23, 2010

Some folks around here seem to think that I’m just not getting into the Panther spirit this week. I’m trying, honestly! Well, there just aren’t very many here, except for what the cops drive. And I’m not going take pictures of them; our police is quite Taser trigger-happy. This is just not Panther country, but then that’s pretty much the case for the whole West Coast. Panthers tend to have a certain regional appeal, as well as political. But I did snag one yesterday, and a Family Truckster, no less.

I couldn’t get a front shot, but you all know how it looks.

These wagons always look too wide in the back compared to the length. One of the result’s of Ford’s downsizing, I assume, but without bringing them up by name, a certain competitor’s otherwise similar wagons seemed to have a more balanced proportions. Must be my prejudice again. And those wheel wells! Those 14″ life savers look so lost; at least those fine wire wheel covers give them a bit of stature.

Given the wagon’s location, the only interior shot is a rear view. Looks like the headliner is having its typical issues here too; it was a common ailment of cars of this era.

Our featured Truckster has had a better outcome than its more famous counterpart. Is this how most of them ended up? “Goddamn Ford!” Yes, they’re mighty hard to come by anymore.

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81 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtake: The Family Truckster...”


  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    Ahh… the venerable Country Squire wagon with the dual-fold lift/swing gate…

    While it has the fake “woodie” trim, sadly, it’s not green.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Any true Vacation aficionado knows that the Truckster isn’t green, it’s Metallic Pea.  Paul, thanks for providing a reality check to the Panther love fest that’s taken over TTAC. For the last couple days I’ve felt like a John Bircher at Woodstock.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      “Clark, is this our car?  I thought you ordered the Sport Wagon?”

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      Ugh. As a cab driver I had to drive one for a few months, it was nearly identical to the one in the photos. Worst piece of crap ever! The tailgate sagged so badly I was afraid every time I opened it would be the last, all the interior plastic was cracked and disintegrating, the steering was wildly inaccurate, it had NO power at all, and it seemed every other day there was a new electrical problem. Plus it had all the structural integrity of a pair of dollar store flip flops. That car was so abominably wretched to drive it was simply exhausting. And it had less than 60k miles on it, I was the first cab driver to ever use it. In fact, this was the car that made me buy my own cab — I bought an ’85 Pontiac Parisienne. The Pontiac was a great car, if I hadn’t been hit head on by a drunk driver it probably would’ve lasted a decade as a cab. I replaced it with a Caprice police special, another terrific car. Drove it for years, and sold it to a new cab driver when I left the business.
      The Panther was utter junk, it would have never sold as much as it did if GM hadn’t stopped building the B bodies. I guess they improved on the Panther some over the years, but the months I spent stuck in that god-awful Country Squire left such a bad taste in my mouth that to this day when I see that car it makes me feel queasy.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Jeffer

      I couldn’t bring myself to watch that movie again, as they crush Griswold’s Cherry looking Olds Vista Cruiser right near the beginning…

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Sigh.  Olds Vista Cruiser, get one with a 455 and a TH400, that is the penultimate family wagon.

      @baabthesaab; forget it. No more posting during boring meetings. I think I’m having a bad week, yesterday while riding my scooter my cell phone holster came off my belt and was run over by a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      baabthesaab

      @Educator
      You are having a rough day. Please get another cup of coffee. Penultimate means “next to last”, which, I believe, is not your point!

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Dan,

      If it makes you feel any better, even I, the word nerd, misused “penultimate” until recently.  I think it is a fairly common mistake.

      Alright fellow word nerds, what is a better word to use than “ultimate”?  Heh, there has to be something above “ultimate”…

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Alright fellow word nerds, what is a better word to use than “ultimate”?  Heh, there has to be something above “ultimate”…
       
      “Baruthian”

    • 0 avatar
      baabthesaab

      Whatever the word, you are right about the Vista Cruiser. A friend of my mother’s had a ’68. Silver Green, dogdish hubcaps and big fat blackwalls – looked like something out of a gov’t motorpool. Inside it had a 350 4 barrel and a 4-speed Hurst shifter. I liked riding around with THAT lady!

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      I think he’s right about the Olds Vistacruiser being the penultimate family wagon, because the CTS-V wagon is the ultimate family wagon!

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      My folks bought a new ’76 Vista Cruiser with the 350 4bbl single exhaust w/ catalytic converter – by 76 the thrill was gone.  It was the colonnaide model.  We missed out on the classic 68-72 model with the overhead glass and more powerful engines by several years.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Panthers tend to have a certain regional appeal, as well as political

    You know, I hadn’t thought about it this way, but you’re probably right.  Let’s do a little informal census: hands up if you’re a pinko and like the Panthers.  Anyone?

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      I’m half pinko and I love the Grand Marquis. Does that count?

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      By the standards of anyone using the term ‘pinko’ I’m probably a pinko. A traitor to the left wing and a pariah to the right.

      At any rate, while I’d never want to own a panther – I want a car I drive, not one I navigate – they seem perfectly suited for NYC taxis and police cruisers.

      For me, a cop car isn’t a cop car unless it’s a big-ass hunk of american steel. Who the hell is going to say, “Sh*t, it’s an avalon!”? A cop driving a Toyota would be like a trucker eating at a bistro: everybody knows the bistro’s better than a truck stop, but it’s still just plain wrong.

      If you ask me, bailing out the carmakers was worth it just to ensure that the fuzz don’t have to drive Camcords. Ugh.

      (Oh, and despite my status as a socialist commie liberal non-conservative liberal socialist, I hate bistros. And I’ll park my Saab at a greasy spoon once in a while, too.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      @psarhjinian:
      Wikipedia says “Pinko is a derogatory term for a person regarded as sympathetic to communism, though not necessarily a Communist Party member.” As a social democrat (which makes me a person w/o a party here in the USA) I suppose you’d consider me a pinko. I’m far enough left to know we don’t actually have a left wing in the USA… Mostly we just have hard right (Libertarian), regular right (Replublican) and right lite (Democrat).
       
      But I don’t care much for the Panther. In fact, the Panther is very much a car of the bourgeoisie. Of course, so is my Buick. But it was cheap and in good condition, and far more reliable than that horrible Country Squire.
       

    • 0 avatar
      marjanmm

      That may be the answer why I don’t get this week on TTAC. After reading all the panther love stories, the cars do not seem to be really good in any way but I guess they are the last vestige of land cruisers of some long gone special America which pinkos do not have much nostalgia for.
      That’s just an impression of someone from across the pond observing from aside.
       

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      And I’ll park my Saab at a greasy spoon once in a while, too

      You know, when I had a Saab, it spent equal time outside bistros and cafes as well as the local greasy spoon.  I will note, though, that for a car designed for and favoured by latte-sipping elites it had a really crappy cupholder.  I ended up with latte all over the front of the stereo before I bought an aftermarket cupholder and a sealable travel mug

      You’re leading into an excellent follow-up: is a Saab (any Saab) the anti-Panther?

    • 0 avatar
      Jimmy7

      Make mine a Marauder, but I’m more of a b-body guy. I loved my ’91 Olds Custom Cruiser.
      And by the standards of our country’s current political discourse, Nixon was a pinko. I’m to his left.

    • 0 avatar
      gessvt

      I had a 9-5 Aero and loved it until the post-warranty bills started racking up.  Also have a Mustang LX 5.0.  I worked for Saab Customer Service right after college, and a surprising number of Saab customers who I spoke to also had 5.0 Mustangs.  Common bond? Torque.
      Still with me?  Saabs & Mustangs, Mustangs & Panthers.  Saabs & Panthers.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toe_the_line
       
      My old roommate at school would never accept that the phrase I was using was not
       
      “For all intensive purposes”. He pointed out that it usually applied… and he was right. :)

    • 0 avatar
      snabster

      Sorry.  I learned to drive on a County Squire.  On a good day, downhill, I hit 80.  That was living.
       
      And I don’t think they are the anti-Saab.  Or saab is the anti-panther.
       
      I’m pretty sure my dad managed to break the control arm on that car. Started my habit of peeking under front wheels to figure out if there is anything wrong.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      FordDude

      Not Pink; Love Fords…

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    @psarhijinian, actually I’m a Libertarian who likes the extremes in motoring.  I’ve got a 150cc scooter, think the Mazda 2 and Fiesta are on the right track, but dream of owning a Panther or a B-body/D-body GM.
     
    I always thought that the Country Squire and Colony Park somehow looked more dignified than the B-body wagons but I’d rather drive the b-body wagon on a daily basis.  And believe me I’ve driven EVERY wagon version of the b-body, my father’s boss bought them for his salesmen to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      marjanmm

      @Dan
      For my curiosity, what is a libertarian in US? Supporter of laissez-faire free market capitalism or anarchist of some kind?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      For me it’s laissez-faire capitalism and social policy.  It’s a rock solid belief in personal freedom.  Nothing angers me quicker than when the government tries to tell someone what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

    • 0 avatar
      Highway27

      For me it extends to nearly everything.  Generally, libertarians are supportive of more freedom for people to do things, and that includes get themselves in personal trouble.  I think people should be free to do anything non-aggressive that doesn’t harm others, and my definitions of ‘harming others’ is very limited.  When people *do* harm others, they should be held responsible.  But if they don’t *actually* do the harm, there shouldn’t be people blocking them from doing things.
       
      As far as the ‘anarchy’ part to it, there’s a bit of a continuum from full on anarchist (no government ever for anything) through minarchist (minimal limited functions, but can be strong in those limited areas, such as enforcement of contracts) and more.  Most actual libertarians (not those who adopt the label to be seen as ‘outsiders’) range around the minarchist level.

    • 0 avatar

      I was introduced to Libertarianism in the mid-90s; the local talk radio station in Albuquerque hosted a syndicated program with a libertarian host (can’t remember his name now), and he made an awful lot of sense to me as I started college. Keep in mind this was also in the midst of Republican Upswing #1 (we’re going to see the second in a few months) and the “Contract With America” days.
       
      Alas, over time I’ve become more convinced our country simply couldn’t handle the responsibilities of a Libertarian ideology. As much as I’m in favor of idiots having free rein to do harm to themselves, too often they wind up hurting other people as well. It’s sad, but the simple truth is we have too many idiots in our country. They need to be ruled.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      And the best thing about Libertarians is we generally respect each other’s right to have our viewpoints and not have to tow a “party line.”

    • 0 avatar
      baabthesaab

      @Educator
      That would be TOE a party line, I believe.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Don’t you tow a line?  Like; “Hey throw me that rope and tow me out!”

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      Think of Usain Bolt putting his big toe right up to the starting line before the gun goes off … hence you toe the line.

      Since folks may become wards of the state in one form or another, I am interested in what they do with their bodies (like wear a seat belt … or not fill it with carcinogens … ).

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Etymology of Toe the (Party) Line

    • 0 avatar
      FordDude

      Actually I thought Librarians used the Dewey Decimal System and cataloged books and periodicals…Never Mind.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Before Chrysler became synonymous with minivans, Ford WAS the wagonmaster.  From the 50s through the 70s, Ford was the undisputed wagon leader.  Truthfully, the 77-90 Chevy was the first wagon that really gave Ford a run for its money.  I have always had really mixed feelings about these Ford wagons.  The first generation (79-91) panther was decidedly inferior to drive when compared to gen2 (92 on).  There was nobody more disappointed than me when Ford ditched the wagon after 91.
    I love the looks of this one (bigger wheels do help and the turbine wheels have GOT to replace those awful wires), and my favorites were the 90-91 without the wood.  But the 302/AOD’s miserable driving experience cannot be overstated.
    Around 1996, I almost bought a well kept but high mileage 88 Colony Park.  I had the cash in my pocket and made my offer, but the seller was hung up on the cost of the  recent maintenance and held out for more.  Until he called later that evening and reconsidered.  Unfortunately, he called after I had taken my cash and bought an 85 LeSabre Limited 2 door.  Anyhow, I recall being disappointed by the structural integrity of the Mercury.  The sedans were tighter than the wagons.  My fox body Marquis wagon was WAY tighter (easy, Sajiv).  And so were the Chevy wagons.
    Still, put a really nice 90-91 Squire with leather in front of me and I would think really hard.  Unless the more powerful Roadmaster was an alternative.  Or a Club Wagon.  (and thus we segue into Econoline Appreciation Week).

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      (and thus we segue into Econoline Appreciation Week).
       
      Yyyyyyyyesss! Bring it, TTAC. I’m so ready for this.
       
      While we’re at it, can we start planning for Ranger Appreciation Week? You know, with it being an extinct model like the Panther and all…just sayin’.

  • avatar
    Jeff Semenak

    That’s a 1979. I know because, I owned one minus the fake wood. Drove decently actually, even with the Variable Venturi carb on the 302.

  • avatar
    skor

    Here in the NYC area, Panthers are as thick as New Jersey politicians on a big, fat steaming bribe.  Yup, cops, livery and the medicare crowd just love ’em.

  • avatar
    majo8

    If you squint a little, wagons from this era look eerily like a lowered crew-cab pickup with a large cap over the pickup “bed”.
     
    Well………..except for the rear axle location.
     
    These wagons could haul enough beer ( cases and kegs ) to keep a large campus party jumping all weekend……

    • 0 avatar
      npbheights

      I have often wondered what a Panther Ranchero would have looked like.  It has the perfect proportions for a Ranchero.  Due to the wonders of CAFE regulations, we shall never know….

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    Yeah was having trouble getting enthused about Panther week too, but today I saw sweet late model Marquis with a landau roof driving down a dirt road. I gave the driver the thumbs up. I was in a JD 8320, the old guy in the merc was certainly enjoying a smoother ride.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    The reason the Ford wagons look too wide in the back end is mostly because the body sticks out to the sides beyond the back wheels too far.  Both the GM and Ford wagons had extended and widened back ends, supposedly to accommodate a 4×8 sheet of plywood between the back wheels.

    Somehow Ford managed to do this using the same back axles as on the sedans, while GM used a longer axle on the back end.  The wider track on the back end of the GM wagons wasn’t noticeable to most people, but the nicer wheelhouse proportions were.

    Because positraction axles were common on wagons, and desired on souped up cars, junked Ford wagons often lost their back posi axles.  While the junked GM wagons’ wide back axles had little appeal.

    The wider axle on the GM wagon probably made it more stable for heavy loads, roof rack loads, and towing.

    Ford managed the wider cargo area by widening the exterior sides all the way from the front fenders, while GM did this at the back doors.  The ’77-’79 GM wagons had an awkwardly mounted angled back door, while the ’80 and later ones flared out along the rear doors.

    The GM wagons also usually had a roof rack, with an integrated spoiler that further improved the back end proportions. The Ford rack’s spoiler was not as attractive.

    Just what everyone needs to know.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      This is why I write for TTAC — to read comments like this.
       
      The equivalent Autoblog comment would have been
       
      BLERG BLERG FAIL LOLZ PUKE ROFL THINK I CRAPD MYSELF

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      My parents bought a single-owner used 1984 CV wagon around 1986.  Full black exterior (no-panneling, but the roof-rack had a panneling strip along its length); red “dura-weave” interior with all options; and the optional trallering package (large tires, bigger battery, HD alternator, trans-cooler, hitch package, trailer pre-wiring, and a H.D. suspension with H.D. RR axle.)

      Given that my mom’s new ’69 Country Squire was akin to a fire-breathing dragon (read about it in one of my earlier posts elsewhere on TTAC), I was surprised when they brought this car home.  The previous owner had doted on it, and had installed window tint, progressively darker from front to back.

      Quincy would have felt at home:  the car looked like a cool-looking hearse, and hence its nickname. 

      This car worked its way down thru the family, finally dying with my sister with over 250k miles (seems a fibre sprocket in the camshaft timing system, or similar, gave up the ghost) … but until then, this car – aside from being too flexible and floaty when I tried to drive it like a rally-car on gravel roads – never gave any significant trouble until around 150k miles.

      My parents and I were on a trip from Detroit to my mother’s ancestral home in “New Found”land (not “Newfinland”) and shortly before we stopped in Toronto to spend the evening with relatives, we noticed smoke coming from the RT rear wheel well … we stopped and determined that it was either the brake, or the axle, and continued on … the next morning, we called the local Ford Dealer (more specialized on trucks than cars), and said we suspected a siezed bearing on the axle shaft … asked if they had parts in stock … “No, not many dealers stock such a part, you will have to wait several days for it to be shipped from a regional depo” … (not good because we only had a week to drive to NFLD and back) … then I mentioned that we had the HD trailer axle … the parts guy lit beamed “why didn’t you say so!  The HD axle shaft is the same as in the F-series, and we have that in stock!” … The car was fixed in the morning, and by lunch we were on our way headed East.”

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      @Jack

      Were you trying to get everybody to laugh hysterically at “BLERG BLERG PUKE…”? I had to stifle a bit of a laugh at work when I read that one.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    Bottom line is that the panther was always inferior to the GM b body in looks. performance and vehicle dynamics. Plus what was with the 14″ wheels. GM at least had 15″
    The panther came out 2 years after the B body and never caught up.
    Ask any cop what he prefers and the vast majority would say the Caprice was vastly superior to the Crown VIc.

  • avatar

    Found myself behind a “bubble” wagon last week. I don’t think a car has ever looked wider from the rear.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    In the summer of 1996 my grandmother decided that she wanted a wagon. I happened to be working at Sesi L-M that summer and found a rather nice 1991 Colony Park, white with cranberry leather. She fell in love and bought it on the spot. My best friend James and I have a real appreciation for cars of this type so there were several times that we would borrow it and cruise the highways and back roads of SE Michigan and just bask in the luxury. We didn’t care that it was a station wagon, and had wood grain on the side, we were just enjoying a vintage Grand Marquis! Watching that hood ornament bob up and down was pure joy for us. I remember he and I were traveling down I-94 when it turned 100k. Several years later my grandpa decided to take the car to Virginia and give it to his youngest sister and her husband, because they needed a car. They said thank you, drove it for maybe a year and then traded it for an econobox. My grandma was sick.
     
    A final observation about the Colony Park LS, it, along with the Electra Estate Wagon were usually driven by rather well-to-do families, and always commanded respect wherever they went. They were the luxury SUV without the laughable bling. They quietly spoke, “We’re educated, and have class…” I loved the fact that my grandparents had that car, it made us all look good!
     
    Or so I thought…

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I know the image.  Dad passed on a lifetime of Chevy’s to get the Buick wagon.  Dark grey with a maroon interior.  With the diesel.  It held up well.  Of course, hearing the stories, he traded it before he started pushing his luck.

  • avatar
    tsofting

    This is about as good as it gets; a discussion on pros and cons of a Panther wagon! As an owner of one of these Squires from 79 to about 86, I have many memories of it, and I must comment on brandloyalty’s description of the wagon bodies of the Panther vs. the B-body, by saying I believe it is the other way ’round. The (then) new LTD sedan had a body that tapered slightly “inwards” from around the C-pillar. Now if the wagon body had been extended at the same angle, it would have ended up too narrow at the back end. So, what to do? What Ford did was change the angle of the body side, making the back doors very hard to adjust for a flowing line into the body. I was reminded of this every time I looked in the outside rearview mirror; back door tapering slightly inwards, then the rear fendersticking out at an awakward angle. Just find one of these and look carefully along the body, and you are guarnteed to see it. As to the General’s offering, he had managed to graft on the wagon body much more gracefully, with a rear door that flowed nicely into the rear fender. Just check it out next time you come across one of these.
    I also had an issue with the wheel/wheelwell size, they didn’t match very well, so aftermarket wheels with fatter tires and more offset are mandatory to make it look decent. Even though the Squire had many shortcomings, my heart beats a little faster when I see one of these, so maybe I’ll find a low mileage one to drive on Sunday outings.

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    The Family Truckster…that brings back memories-one of my favorite writers at National Lampoon was John Hughes. My neighbors in the 1960s had a 64 and a 67 Country Squire-did a lot of time in the third seat. Those babies were monsters with 390 cubes so they pumped a lot of CO in through the back window.
    This 58 Edsel wasn’t exactly the late 50s Plymouth wagon that Hughes talked about in the Nat Lamp short story but it was close…
    http://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/2-features/stories/59-the-family-truckster.html
     

  • avatar
    findude

    As one of many drivers who did 4-hour round-trips to LAX in one of these for a driving service, I’ll testify both to their durability and uninspiring roadworthiness.  We drove ours over 400,000 miles with no problems at all that I remember. It was not unusual for the thing to make the 200-mile trip 15 times a week with as many different drivers. Since we were a gas station as well, we’d pull it on the lift and do a rapid-service LOF between trips–I’m sure the religious maintenance contributed to its longevity. If you haven’t loaded suitcases into the back of one of these you can’t really appreciate that cavernous rear. I could pick up 5 unrelated passengers with typical pre-911 luggage of two big suitcases and a carry on, we would ease into the spacious bench seats, and ALL that luggage would fit in back without obstructing the rear view.
     
    The owner liked that wagon so much that he retired it into his own garage when the accountant said it was time to replace it.

    • 0 avatar

      findude: “the religious maintenance contributed to its longevity.” Adopting the FixOrRepairDaily routine will keep any Ford product reliably on the road. A fat wallet would be needed along with a second Ford. One to drive while the other is on a hoist. :-) No thanx, I’ll keep my GM.

  • avatar
    william442

    I saw one of these at the Venice, FL library on wednesday, pea green. The lady driver was cool too. In the 60s these were a requirement for Junior League membership.

  • avatar
    MM

    I like the Chilton’s manual (or Hayes?) in the photo of the cargo area.  Such is a mainstay in our 16 year-old Previa as well.  It’s great to see folks wringing all the possible value out of these old cars.

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    And I’m not going take pictures of them; our police is quite Taser trigger-happy.
     
    Huh? You run the risk of getting tasered for taking a picture of a public servant driving a publicly-owned vehicle on a public street?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      People with weapons, when sufficiently nervous, become, predictably, unpredictably dangerous.

    • 0 avatar

      They wouldn’t want to be caught stealing apples.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Yup, not that uncommon a phenomenon.   Around here, Bergen County, NJ, a suburb of NYC, taking a picture of a cop will get you tazed, or worse.  There a lots of wealthy people in the Northern Part of the county, driving big dollar rides, like you’d expect  — Maserati, Bentley and so on.  I’m tempted to snap some pics of said big dollar rides when I’m out on one of my 40 mile bicycle randonneurs , and post them here under the heading of “Wall Street Bonus Rides”, but the likelihood of a tazing prevents me from doing such.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Gee, thanks, Paul.  Now that you’ve evoked memories of that movie I’m going to have that damn irritating “Holiday Road” song stuck in my head  for the remainder of the day… :)

    • 0 avatar
      MarcKyle64

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nLiQBV6A7c
      I found out long ago
      It’s a long way down the holiday road
      Holiday road
      Holiday road

      Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
      Take a ride on the West Coast kick
      Holiday road
      Holiday road
      Holiday road
      Holiday road

  • avatar
    Headroom Tommy

    I’ve owned 4 box panthers and 3 box General Motors products. In the GM wagons I had a 350, 307, and 305.

    The GMs handled a little tighter, but the panthers had a better ride and were definitely more reliable overall.

    I do agree the GM wagons have a slight edge style-wise, but the panther front end does help even it out a little.

    To smoke them all was my last wagon – a Roadmaster with the LT1 :D That thing was wicked powerful for a wagon, super laid out, sadly it had reliability issues.

    Tommy

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I saw “Vacation” but I never understood that moniker. “Truckster”? It’s a car, not a truck.

    The Dodge Dakota convertible…now that’s a truckster (truck-roadster)…

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s more of a “truck” than, say, a Honda Ridgeline.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      The entire car is a rolling send up of “Detroit’s Deadly Sins” as Paul would say, including the grandiose names that have no relation to the pedestrian-ness of the car.  The dealership experience is the extreme of all a dealers worst practices.  And Eugene Levy is a spot on send-up of the American Car Salesman.  (In fact he reminds me of the father of my childhood best friend, Jeff.  His father Don was a used car salesman.)

      Don’t forget that the full name was the “Wagon Queen Family Truckster.”

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Let’s see:

      Body on Frame — Check
      V8 Out Front  — Check
      Live Axel in Back — Check
      Can Slide Uncut 4X8 Panels of Plywood/Sheet Rock in Back and Close the Gate — Check

      Yup, that’s a truck.
       

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Perhaps it was my Pennsylvania upbringing (where literally tons of salt are put on the roads each winter), but when riding or driving in one of these, I always had the impression that the whole thing was being held together by the vinyl plood on the sides… flexy and floppy. Queen of the Ocean, yeah, if the Queen of the Ocean were a half-inflated inflatable boat.

  • avatar

    During my short period as a Lexus salesman, I actually had a customer want to turn in a 1989 Country Squire on trade on an RX350.  Unlikely?  Of course.  In fact, the dealer didn’t even want it.  I was looking for a beater to drive around the city, and this fit the bill perfectly, so to do the deal, I offered to buy it myself for $800, done as a courtesy trade through the dealership.
    The car was in half decent shape, with only 72,000 miles, but it hadn’t been garage kept so it wasn’t cherry.  I put about 15,000 miles on it, until my girlfriend (and eventual wife) needed a car and she put another 15,000 miles on it.
    It was a 302FI with AOD, and despite having to have the transmission rebuilt thanks to the cheap plastic clip on the throttle valve cable, and most of a new front end up underneath due to a snapped tie rod at speed, I still spent less than $3,000 total on the car in the time I owned it.  Cheaper to operate than a Prius, even getting 14 mpg in the city.  It managed an honest 20 mpg on the highway, though.  It took me through two moves, drastically reducing the cost of said moves (movers only necessary for furniture).
    One day I realized no heat was coming from the vents.  The car didn’t have a temperature gauge, just an idiot light, and even that wasn’t lit.  I checked the radiator – bone dry.  The girlfriend had been driving the thing with zero coolant, possibly for weeks.  The car never missed a beat – no death rattle, no seizing.  The car was so detuned and overbuilt, it didn’t care.  I tried adding coolant, and it just kept puking it out.
    We decided to trade it on a Nissan Cube during Cash for Clunkers – she got $4500 for it.  We kept it running those few weeks until the car arrived (we ordered the exact one we wanted) by tossing a gallon of water in it every day.
    Turns out owning a home meant I needed hauling capability, still.  I bought a 1994 Buick Roadmaster.  Better driving car, but the Squire had more character.
    I still miss it.

  • avatar
    nova73

    I once drove a nearly-new ’88 County Squire to NYC and back.  Was chaufferring my boss to a hearing in NYC, about a 90 mile round trip.  Was prepared for the worst, until I started it up.  The motor started right up and settled down to a smooth idle.  If I put my foot into it, the car had a lot of pep.  It was a great highway cruiser, and not too ponderous around town, either.  The only irritating quirk was that the brake pedal would sink at idle, I thought it defective and kept pumping it.  Now if it seems like I’m damning it with faint praise, I am not.  Ford was the first US automaker that widely adopted EFI.  GM and Chrysler were still using carbs, and their cars were hard to start, and prone to stalling, hesitating and surging once warmed up.  The Ford ran like a pre-emissions car, even better.
    On a local trip, I took a curve too fast, and the heavy rear end almost came around.  Reminded me that as good as the car was, it was still a family truckster.

  • avatar
    Johnnyangel

    I’m a pinko, and proud of it — and previous automotive choices have been perhaps more befitting … four Renaults (4, 5, and two GTAs), a Citroen 2CV, and several Volkswagen diesels.
    But, this like-new 1989 CV station wagon somehow managed to tug at my heart strings for a few weeks until I brought it home on Tuesday. I had absolutely no idea at the time that it was “Panther Appreciation Week” on my favorite automotive website.
    Now, seeing the wagon featured on Friday has really made my day. Though it’s hard enough getting through my work, dreaming of how I might get off by three, take the car for the week’s grocery shopping, watch the sun gleam off the freshly waxed sides, and ostentatiously put the groceries through the rear door gate while I watch others in the parking lot gape from their miserable crossovers …
    To see what the front of this car looks like when not butchered for a stupid movie I’ll never see, go here — http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinkytoys/5015584984/

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Though it’s hard enough getting through my work, dreaming of how I might get off by three, take the car for the week’s grocery shopping, watch the sun gleam off the freshly waxed sides, and ostentatiously put the groceries through the rear door gate while I watch others in the parking lot gape from their miserable crossovers …

      Miserable crossovers indeed…

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Tsofting: thanks for clarifying the side width issue.  I actually didn’t know how Ford widened the rear end, and assumed from the picture that they’d run the side back straight.  I agree it’s hard to see the taper on these cars.

    The GM’s had wrap-around taillights, so you could use the outside mirrors to see if the taillights were on. Also, the sharp rear corner, visible in the side mirrors, made very precise manoeuvering easier than with today’s rounded cars and suvs.  I don’t know about the Ford wagons, but the GM wagons could turn their front wheels really sharply, which aided parking etc.

    The frames of the GM B sedans were thicker between the wheels and tapered under the trunk (6″ and 3″ if I remember correctly).  The wagons had the thicker section all the way back, and I imagine Ford copied this.  This is partly why the wagons are favoured for demolition derbies.

    Despite this, the wagons were prone to frame rust, particularly in the vulnerable curve over the back axle.  This would result in flexing that showed up as cracks in the roof sheetmetal just above the C pillar.  I don’t recall the Ford wagons suffering from this.

    Another advantage of the wide axle on the back end of GM’s B body wagons was chain clearance.  I used cut-down heavy duty truck chains on mine.  It had plenty of space for the big chains, and with positraction and lots of weight in the back, air shocks and lots of power, it could challenge 4wd’s in deep snow.

    As supremebrougham mentioned, these wagons commanded respect in their day.  After I got my ’79 Impala in ’85, I noticed service station attendants were calling me “sir”. That seemed very odd.

    My older brother had a Ford wagon like the one featured, since he was a “Ford” man.  One day on a 2-lane road, he pulled out to pass a semi, failing to notice another semi coming in the opposite direction.  He managed to get partly onto the shoulder, before the semi drove over the passenger side (fortunately unoccupied) of the wagon.  It basically tore the whole right side of the car off.

    As nova73 said, my 4bbl 350 Impala could be hard to start.  It had to be carefully “primed”, and if it wasn’t warmed up enough, it would stall.  It always stalled when visiting relatives, for instance.

  • avatar

    my kind of panther appreciation
    I prefer the bubble.

  • avatar
    lancerfixer

    All the Panther posts this past week have me SERIOUSLY considering replacing my Volvo with a Grand Marquis.
    I’m 35.  I’ve owned Acuras, Volvos and Saabs since I was 19.
    The only domestic that’s ever occupied my driveway has been my wife’s Flex…and today after work, I test drove a Grand Marquis.
    What the hell is happening?
     

    • 0 avatar
      Headroom Tommy

      They’re calling you home :)

      Please everyone, buy American when you can. Even if your import is built domesticly the big money goes back to the other country.

      Not slamming anyone, just thinking of poor Detroit…..

      Tommy

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I had a 75 Ford  LTD  wagon, 460 with a C6 . It  ate  ignition modules  like  potato chips. pea green with  faux  wood. I went to Grand Wagoneers after it. A real family truckster.

  • avatar

    I rented an icebox white Country Sedan in ’84 to move my girlfriend down from Reno to Las Vegas.  It was cheaper as a round-trip rental, so I got it in Vegas, drove 450 miles to Reno, loaded up her stuff and drove 450 miles back.

    I expected to hate it. It was surprisingly okay. But then, a month before, I’d made the same trip with all my stuff in a Ryder rental truck with only an AM radio. So I may have been judging on a curve.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    “If you think you hate it now, wait until you drive it”.

    I used to abhor station wagons, til I bought a 1991 Caprice wagon off my parent’s last year, I think I am hooked. There is a Country Squire lingering on the Houston Craigslist for about $2k, hmm.

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