By on June 6, 2018

So far in the Crapwagon Garage QOTD series, we’ve covered hatchbacks, sedans, and pickup trucks. For the fourth installment in the series, we take the best qualities of all three of those previous vehicles.

What do you get when you affix a hatchback to a sedan, and add the covered rear bed area from a truck? A wagon, of course.

Your suggestions last week mostly agreed with my T100 and GMT400 examples, but some responses did stray from the beaten path a bit. The Why Couldn’t I Think Of This award goes to:

…MoparRocker74’s suggestion, the GMC Caballero. Not as common as the El Camino, and the hood ornament and various special editions add to my interest. The one pictured is a Diablo edition, and I’ve no idea what that entails. But it’s odd and I like it — nice work.

Let’s have a little reminder of the rules of the Crapwagon Garage game:

  1. A crapwagon must be a vehicle which is relatively easy to find and purchase using an internet.
  2. All vehicles in the crapwagon garage must have been sold as new, in the North American market.
  3. Said vehicles must be obtainable to the casual crapwagon collector (CCC). This means in clean, running condition each one asks $7,000 or less on a normal day.
  4. Your suggestions must fit into the vehicle category of the week. If you don’t like the category, that’s tough. We’ll get to a category you like eventually.
  5. There are five rules to this garage game, and that’s the maximum number of vehicles you may submit for each section. Just five.

Some of you were about to breach rule number three last time around, specifying things like “probably not clean for this money.” Watch out. Time for my wagon selections.

First up, the final Nissan Maxima wagon North America received. The one pictured is an ’86, and asked just $3,700 not long ago via Craigslist. I love the shape, the luxury, and the two-tone brown nature. This Maxima is from a time before Infiniti; Maxima carried the luxury sedan/wagon designation on this continent by itself. These pop up from time to time online, in excellent condition, and cheap.

I’ll probably catch some flack for this one, but I’ve always liked the 1990s E-Class wagon. It has an element of dignity and restraint which is absent from any modern Mercedes-Benz offering. The 1995 pictured paired navy blue paint with peanut butter leather (or perhaps M-B Tex), but other lovely ’90s colors were also available. Manual transmissions were an option, as well as the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. They’re always in great shape when you find them for sale, as the typical E-Class wagon owner is well-heeled.

Off to you B&B. Let’s see how hard it is for you to pick only five wagons for your Crapwagon Garage.

[Images: Lexus, GM, seller]

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63 Comments on “QOTD: Can You Build an Ideal Crapwagon Garage? (Part IV: Wagons)...”


  • avatar
    notapreppie

    1) Dodge Magnum R/T AWD
    2) Mazda6 V6
    3) Volvo V70R

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    1) Honda Civic Wagovan with ‘realtime AWD’.
    2) Jaguar X-Type Sportwagon.
    3) Buick Roadmaster wagon.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    First pick: ’59 Impala Wagon.
    After that, most wagons of the ’60s vintage or older (actual usable floor space without fancy swing gates or the more recent liftgates which make carrying oversized materials more difficult. The Studebaker wagon with the sliding roof was an ideal candidate in many ways, letting it be wagon and pickup truck in one vehicle without having to remove a heavy bed cap commonly seen on trucks in the ’70s and ’80s.

    Oh, and the little Vega Kammback was a fun little rig, too, even if underpowered (people were dropping Buick V6s under the hood and that worked reasonably well.)

    But more recently, the Dodge Magnum, barring that liftback style rather than a true clamshell gate, would have to be my easiest choice. At least those are still available and I see several around my area still today.

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      Fat chance finding a 59 Chevy wagon for under $7000. First one I found on the internet was $54,000.https://classiccars.com/listings/find/1959/chevrolet/impala

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I could go for that brown Brookwood. Wouldn’t have any complaints for an El Camino version. I have a couple photos of those, one carrying a full load of pumpkins.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    1) Mitsubishi Sportback Ralliart
    2) Dodge Magnum AWD
    3) Mazda6 Wagon

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Dodge Magnum SRT

    Dodge Magnum R/T AWD (winter car!)

    Mustang GT Sportwagon — and he’s out for breaking the rules!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    5th gen Accord- naturally a K series swap candidate.

    E46 325i Touring- LS1 is too generic. I’d probably go turbo

    80s Ford Fairmont- GRM build inspired me.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Probably all ratted out but a BMW 540i wagon.

    Need less of a garage queen? The Caprice or Roadmaster wagon with the LT1 engine.

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    2018 Dodge Magnum SRT (collector)

    2017 Dodge Magnum SXT (driver)

    1990’s Buick Roadmaster /Chevrolet Caprice Wagon LS1 engine.

    1995 Volvo 850 Wagon (Just like the styling)

    1953 Chrysler Town and Country Station Wagon (Love those old woody wagons)

    And for a bouns….. 1950’s Dodge Power Wagon! (Yea, it a truck, but it’s name has the word “wagon” in it, so there !!!) :-)

  • avatar
    ajla

    1. ’94-’96 Chevy Caprice Wagon
    2. ’90 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser
    3. ’77 Pontiac Catalina Safari 6.6L**
    4. ’90 Crown Victoria wagon (so no woodgrain)
    5. ’72 Plymouth Fury Suburban

    ** – hopefully these don’t run afoul of rule #1 because they are tricky to find in the present day. I found some decent condition late 70s Catalina wagons with 301s and 350s for asking prices of about $5K so I don’t think one with a 400 would breach $7K.**

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    Haven’t played this game yet but the one wagon that first came to mind was the 1996 Camry Wagon.
    For years after it was no longer available, every time I spotted one in the wild, it would make do a double-take. I always thought it made a lot of sense for Toyota to make these. Unfortunately, the death-knell had already been sounded for wagons at that time

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      It’s really too bad we didn’t get the next generation (XV20) Camry Gracia Wagon, it was IMO a much cleaner design than the XV10’s dumpy (but practical) rear styling.

      goo.gl/images/1GmxgJ

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Gtem, I finally got the F-100 to the house this week. It is a 1969 year, with a 1977 351 engine. I plan to swap in a ZF 5-speed from a 1980s 351 truck because I hate the column shift 3 speed manual.

        I’m not worried in the least about restoring the truck to original condition. The original engine is long-gone, the back bed was replaced with a step side off a 1980s truck, and the seat/carpet is a mish-mash from some other trucks.

        So, I plan to put a flat bed on it, seats/console from a newer F-Series (found a set with fold down console from a 1997 F-150 that I like), I’ve already found a transmission at a friend’s place, and I have put the 2010 Dodge steelies on it. They look great with the chrome trim rings I got for them, all they really need now are center caps, which will be coming at some point.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Congrats! Does it run currently?

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Thanks man. I haven’t tried to start it yet. I am kinda waiting for my cousin who knows a lot more about carbs than I do. He stopped by today but was on his way somewhere so we just looked over it and then he had to run.

            I did get the horrible carpet out of it today. Floors look good, only rust is on the passenger side with about a 1″×1″ hole near the kick panel. Overall, not bad.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Does the engine turn over easily at least? If it’s sat for a long time it might be a good idea to take a turkey baster/syringe and shoot about a tablespoon of motor oil, or Marvel Mystery oil or ATF or whatever down the sparkplug holes (requires removing plugs of course), letting that sit for a while and then turning the motor over by hand off of the crank.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            The engine is free/not locked up. I appreciate the tip, though.

  • avatar
    W210Driver

    I‘m driving it: 1998 Mercedes E300 Turbodiesel Wagon W210.

    Currently rocking 225,000 miles+. Rock solid, reliable, comfortable, no rust (!!!) and contrary to popular belief not that expensive to maintain – if you know where to go and get quality spare parts.

    I use http://www.fcpeuro.com and Kent Bergsma of Mercedessource.com.

    Second and third choice would be:

    2) 1984-1997 Mercedes E-Class Wagon W124 (agreed, they are rock solid, elegant and practical)

    3) 1991-1997 Toyota Camry Wagon (XV10) (boring, dull to drive but reliable and practical)

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    In no particular order…

    1995 Mercedes W124 wagon

    1995 Buick Roadmaster wagon

    2002 BMW 325iX

    Volvo XC70

    2002 Jetta TDI wagon

  • avatar
    tonyola

    1985-1988 Toyota Cressida wagon
    1988-1991 Mercury Colony Park
    1992-1996 Mitsubishi Diamante wagon

  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    ’94-’96 Roadmaster LT1
    ’99-’03 Jetta TDI wagon manual
    Volvo V70R
    B5 Audi S4 Avant
    E39 BMW wagon (for future swapping an LSx into… )

  • avatar
    DownUnder2014

    For the US market:

    (In no particular order):

    1. 1994-96 Buick Roadmaster (or Caprice Wagon).

    2. 1969-78 Ford Full-Size Wagon (500 to Country Squire)

    3. 1976-86 S123 E-Class

    4. 1991-96 Toyota Camry (XV10)

    5. 1997-2003 BMW (E39) 540iT (preferably a /6 version) (would probably be a rolling heap but at least it is cool)

    For the Australian market (US$7000 = A$9127):

    (Also in no particular order)

    1. 1998-2002 Ford Falcon (AU) (Not good looking but the best meme car here in Australia)

    2. 1977-80 Holden (HZ) Wagon

    3. 1978-81 Chrysler Valiant (CM)

    4. 1986-90 Nissan Skyline (R31) (while the VL Commodore has (more or less) the same engine, I prefer the styling on the 31)

    5. 1988-92 Toyota Camry (V20)

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Most of my picks have already been mentioned:
    Roadmaster (in the crate of course, that is fake wood)
    Camry wagon
    A smaller thing, Toyota Tercel SR5 wagon. Some had AWD and they came with an ATM on the back hatch.
    For masochists there is the VW Dasher wagon. Sold in the 1990s as the VW Fox. That was one of those beverage can vehicles; use what’s inside, crush and toss in recycle bin.

  • avatar
    hriehl1

    1964 Opel Kadett Wagon. Car and Driver’s all-time worst car ever, and I owned one, bought for $35, through High School and a couple years of college. So tinny, bumping a parking meter would have been fatal.

  • avatar
    jpruden

    I have to second xflowgolf above… he’s got three of my four picks:

    1999.5-2001 Audi S4 Avant
    Volvo V70R
    ’94-’96 Roadmaster LT1
    2006-2008 Audi A4 Avant Auto (manual transmission is usually outside the price range…)

  • avatar
    bufguy

    BMW E46 Touring
    VW Passat GLX VR6
    Lexus IS Sportcross

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Why would I want to own more than one wagon? Maybe two if one is for my wife?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      At one point I owned three – my ’11 BMW 328!, a ’79 Mercedes W123, and a ’95 Volvo 945. Plus three convertibles. You never know what mood you will be in when it comes to driving. :-)

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Volvo 745 or 945
    Volvo 245
    Mercedes W124 wagon
    Mercedes W123 wagon
    BMW e46 wagon

    The Volvo 7/9 is really the best cheap wagon there is. Cheap to buy, cheap to run, cheap to fix, and incredibly long-lived. The 16Vs and turbos will even get out of their own way at the cost of added, er, cost. Unfortunately, as the newest are 23 getting a bit hard to find in really nice condition. I settled for a sedan recently (couldn’t pass up 79K miles and the ultra rare 16V motor for a silly cheap price). 245s attract a bit too much “hipster tax”, an actually nice one will be above the $7K budget at this point.

    • 0 avatar
      DownUnder2014

      245’s attract a hipster tax in my neck of the woods as well, same goes with (diesel) S123s (this tax applies to 123s in general).

      Especially with the 245, most seem to be driven by hipsters. The 123s (C/S/W) are also hipster-concentrated as well. The 745 is also popular with hipsters here, although not to the same extent as the 245. The 945 seems to still be mainly older folk that drive them, although I do occasionally see a hipster-type in them. Same goes with the S124s.

      E46s here are popular with young people who want German on a budget, though the wagons are comparatively rare and tend to be in better condition than the other bodystyles…

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      If the goal truly is cheap and reliable motoring, I’d take a 90s Corolla wagon or Camry wagon over the Volvo any day. But I do think the old Volvos are neat looking/driving cars and DIY friendly, but you’ll be DIY-ing more often is what I suspect. Also, I guess it varies by region but you’d be hard pressed to find very many junkyard donors around here.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Corolla 4WD
    Saab 9-2X
    Mazda6

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Meh, I don’t like wagons. Small ones to me are better, but still not a fan. I liked the ’50s and ’60s two door wagons (such as Ford Del Rio or Ranch wagon), but a decent one under $7k might be a stretch.

    That said:
    VW Fox wagon, yes the two door

    1st gen (but later 1980s) Ford Escort wagon with the H.O. 1.9L and 3.73 final drive 5 speed from the period GT swapped in

    1970s Datsun 510 wagon w/manual (yes, a fully restored car will crest $7k, but a decent, unrestored but drivable example should be able to be had). I’d also take an earlier Datsun 411 or 1200 wagon in its place.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      “1970s Datsun 510 wagon w/manual (yes, a fully restored car will crest $7k, but a decent, unrestored but drivable example should be able to be had)”

      Boom:

      https://losangeles.craigslist.org/lac/cto/d/1971-datsun-510/6598417141.html

      Fake hood scoop GOT to go, but otherwise, not too bad.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    2002 – 2007 WRX. Cheap and easy to run. If you have to be a retro grouch any 93-01 Impreza (or Legagy/Outback up to 2004) will work, too.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    [ctrl+f] subaru

    Really? No one? All right.

    It just so happens that I currently have 2 at my house as we speak. I have my LGT wagon and my mom’s IS300 Sportcross. I sincerely hope mine wouldn’t actually qualify, but I paid the upper limits of the rules for my mom’ a few years ago.

    1. ’05 Subaru Legacy GT wagon (available with a manual since that is so important to everyone)
    2. Lexus IS300 Sportcross – genuinely one of my favorite cars of all time, such a joy to work on.
    3. E39 BMW 540ti
    4. Mazda6
    5. Gen 1 Scion xB (I’m probably stretching things with this one)

    • 0 avatar
      FAHRVERGNUGEN

      Yes. Wish my LGT had a manual, though, but the self-shift option is fun.

      250HP? Check.
      4WD? Check.
      Relatively rare? Check.

    • 0 avatar
      joeb-z

      I have a 2005 Subaru Legacy GT Limited wagon w/manual. Ordered it new. Modified and dyno tuned to a sensible 300 HP and 300 ft-lb. Big front intercooler, exhaust mods including Borla exhaust, Bilstein struts. Great wagon I will keep until the wheels (BBS) fall off.

  • avatar
    road_pizza

    Easy peasy :)…

    1: ’78-’83 Fairmont/Zephyr, ’82 Granada/Cougar, or ’83-’86 LTD/Marquis (re-engined, no craptastic 2.3Ls, 3.3Ls, or Essex V6s)

    2: Any G Body wagon, preferably a Pontiac.

    3: ’72 or ’73 Pinto (no big bumper cars, thankyouverymuch)

    4: Any Studebaker Lark.

  • avatar
    manbearpig

    I only need one:

    Geo Storm Wagonback with all mechanicals from the Impulse RS swapped over.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    2006 Saab 9-3 Sport Combi

  • avatar
    bobtheowl

    1. 1994-96 Buick Roadmaster (has been said a few times now)
    2. Either a Mazda Protegé5 or a 1st gen Mazda3 hatchback
    3. 1st gen Mini Clubman

    Also, TIL there was a wagon variant of the IS300. I’ve never seen one of these in person in my life.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    1) 62-67 Chevrolet II-Nova wagon 6 cylinder or V8

    2) 71-77 Chevrolet Vega Kammback-engine upgrade to a Iron Duke, Quad-4 or an Ecotec.

    3) 05-06 Dodge Magnum R/T AWD

    4) 60-65 Ford Falcon 2 door wagon 6 cylinder or V8.

    5) 82-90 Pontiac 6000 SE wagon 2.8 or 3.1.

    6) 98-06 Volvo 850-V70R

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Ohh, a two door Falcon. I’d swap my Escort wagon for that in a heartbeat.

      I also thought I might should have said a 1997+ Escort with the Zetec swapped in from a ZX2. The 2,0L SPI (stock for the sedan and wagon) was a rattle trap interference turd.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I’ve always had a soft spot for the Escort ZX2 coupe with Zetec 2.0. The last of them 2003-04 were just badged ZX2 and offered a rare sport S/R package.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          The facelift suited them well, IMO. I liked the open grille better than the “evolved Ford Probe” look it originally had.

          I would have at least made the Zetec standard in the Tracer LS (sedan/wagon). Ford didn’t really try with Mercury half the time.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Imagine a resto-mod on those Chevy II wagons using modern suspension and modern engines. The old I-6 in the Nova was only good for about 96 horses; you could drop a new I-4 in and have twice the power.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          Or just upgrade the brakes and suspension and add a Offenhauser manifold with a carburetor or FI conversion.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            A racecar won the Indy 500 using a V6 from a school bus, many long years ago. So yes, I know the old engines can be tuned, balanced and go through all that expensive work. However, putting in a modern suspension will make the car safer overall while the new engine will double the power (or more) and still save fuel (that 96 horses still sucked down gas at about 15mpg at highway speed, using the old PowerGlide 2-speed tranny. Could do a lot better with a modern tranny under it and 200+ horses under the hood for less money.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I think all of these would be under $7K…

    Late 80’s – early 90’s VW Fox (US Market)
    Late 70’s – early 80’s GM G-body wagons
    1986-87 Pontiac 6000 S/E wagon or any year Chevy Celebrity Eurosport wagon
    Mid 80’s Chrysler Town & Country turbo wagon
    1970’s Fiat 128 Giardinara (wagon)

  • avatar
    brettc

    1996 or ’97 Passat TDI wagon
    B5.5 Passat wagon (there’s one for sale near me, hard to resist the temptation)
    2003 Jetta TDI wagon with manual
    1996 Accord wagon
    1996 Camry wagon
    Lexus IS 300 Sportcross

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    My CURRENTLY-OWNED entries-
    1989 Isuzu Trooper II (station wagon) 4WD manual transmission cost $800
    2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4WD Selec-Trac 4 speed automatic transmission cost $750
    1985 GMC Suburban 2500 350 V-8 4 speed manual transmission w/granny low, locker rear end former Dept of Roads vehicle cost $800
    The Jeep is in the nicest shape, and is my daily driver.
    None of these get stuck in mud and/or snow !

  • avatar
    Hummer

    1959 Chevrolet parkwood
    2017 HSV Holden Commodore wagon (definitely doesn’t fit into the $7000 budget)

  • avatar
    MarchHare

    I currently own possibly the perfect Australian crapwagon, and some examples may be found stateside, too.

    2003 Mitsubishi Magna Sportswagon (known in the Americas as the Diamante). Back in 2003 the 3.5L V6 and 5 speed tiptronic auto made it the fastest naturally aspirated six made in Australia. It pushes 222hp and 317nm through the front wheels and has a kerb weight of 1581kg (3485lbs), numbers that sit within a 1% variance of the MkIV Ford Mondeo XR5 and its Volvo-sourced 2.5 T5.

    The Magna is cockroach-grade reliable, has more horizontal load space than a Kia Sorento, tows well, features a very low driver’s position, has pillarless doors FTW, and in Sportswagon trim, very much resembles a slightly larger VR4 Legnum with a front-end styling that weirdly screams ’70s Pontiac. Examples run anywhere from AUD$2-4k.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    Wouldn’t mind having an Aspen/Volare wagon with 360/4spd. Or an early 70s Mopar B body wagon. But ya know what, F it…Just gimme 5 Dodge Magnums:

    1–’08 SRT8 in black. Because collectors item.

    2/3/4–3 matching ’05 R/Ts in Midnight blue, Inferno Red and silver all with dark grey leather interior, moonroofs, straight pipes and Torq Thrust IIs. Because all 3 colors look amazing on this car.

    5–AWD R/T in that teal-grey color as a daily driver.

  • avatar
    Aron9000

    Okay for newer stuff:

    1980’s-early 90’s Volvo 240- We had a bright red one when I was a kid, got sick and puked in the backwards facing rear seat.

    1991-1996 Buick Roadmaster wagon. Gotta have the wood though. They are pretty fun to drive with the LT1 V8(94-96), lots of torque, fat burnouts stock.

    1992-1996 Camry Wagon- Gotta love the double rear windshield wipers.

    1993-1997 Accord Wagon- Always loved the styling on that gen Accord, especially the wagon with the way cool swoopy back glass. 5 speed manual is a rare but awesome option.

    As for older stuff:

    Any 1960’s GM wagon that isn’t rusted to pieces. I know for $7,000 its going to need some work and might fall into that “rat rod” category as far as cosmetics, but it would still be a ton of fun. Really the cracked paint and imperfect body would give it some character, as long as it wasn’t terminally rusty.

    For the smaller A-body, I’d love an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, no matter the year. For the larger B-body, a 1960 to 1966 Impala or Pontiac Catilina wagon would be bitching.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    What’s a crapwagon anyway?

    I have a single pick: 1995 BMW 540i Touring

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I had to come back to this thread to say that I have never seen one of the Lexus wagons pictured in the opening, until today – funny how that happened.

  • avatar
    richthofen

    Not sure where you all are finding decent V70R’s for under $7k. I was under the impression that was an 8-9K price of entry. That having been said:

    1991 Audi 200 Avant (last and best of the C3 5000/100 series, with the 20V engine)
    2005-07 Subaru Legacy GT wagon
    1979 Pontiac Grand LeMans Safari
    Volvo 850R/850 T5R wagon
    W124 E-class wagon

    Honorable mentions: Mazda 6 V6 wagon, IS300 SportCross, Toyota Cressida wagon, 94-96 Roadmaster LT1

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