QOTD: Feeling That Burning Wagon Lust?

qotd feeling that burning wagon lust

We know, we know — you aren’t. Almost no one is, which handily explains why new wagons are now rarer in North America than sobriety on the first night of Woodstock. Or virginity on the last. It wasn’t always the case, though, as once upon a time a great herd of long-roofed family haulers roamed freely across the vast expanses of pre-Millenium America.

We’re left with premium niche models, and that’s that. Deal with it. This Question of the Day isn’t designed to make you pick favorites from among the skimpy crowd of remaining estate cars, but to think back to those halcyon (or perhaps traumatizing) days before you earned your driver’s license.

Unless you’re a member of Generation Z or a late Millennial, chances are your family owned a wagon at one point — or even cycled through a number of them. Absolutely none of these vehicles was built with the aim of carving canyons or pulling off a record 0-60 run.

Adaptive suspension? What’s that?

A transmission with more than four speeds? Dream on.

Twin turbos and all-wheel drive? Maybe AMC drivers could boast of the latter.

Back then, especially among domestic makes, sporting prowess was entirely dependent on displacement and the steely nerves of the driver in charge, not a team of engineers carefully calculating the best damper tuning for nights on end. Technology barely entered the equation. These were vehicles built to haul a lot of stuff and a lot of kids to the store and school and soccer and the lake and grandma’s house and every other destination in a parent or couple’s boring, drab, mundane life. And yet somehow a few loud Car Twitter personalities can’t fathom why crossovers are popular.

Hmmm… ever notice how wagon and minivan sales (and yes, sedans) keep sliding while crossovers keep rising? It couldn’t possibly be that non-auto journos budget for a vehicle that ticks the most boxes on their long list of needs, not one of which is canyon-carving excellence? But I digress!

One of the highlights of the dismal third season of Stranger Things was watching Nancy pull a 180 in a stately Mercury Colony Park, which immediately triggered memories of my wagon-tinged childhood. This weekend’s announcement of the pending arrival of Audi’s RS 6 Avant obviously turbocharged those recollections.

There was the first-gen Escort wagon that, if I recall correctly, was offloaded in a hurry due to head gasket failure. Then there was the beige Reliant wagon my dad bought from a friend. It also didn’t last long. The ’83 Olds Cutlass Cruiser lasted the longest, providing my family with dependable V8-powered transportation (but less than stellar gas mileage) from 1992 to 1997. And that was it for wagons in our clan.

What about you, B&B — what’s the most memorable wagon from your childhood (or, if applicable, adulthood)?

Also — if it showed up in your driveway tomorrow, would you keep it?

[Image: ©2018 Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Aug 23, 2019

    I pretty successfully avoided wagons in my earliest years. Sometimes I would end up going to some activity in the third seat of a Country Squire or Town & Country, but I was fortunate enough to have parents who had no interest in wagons. My first girlfriend and I used to meet in her parents garage and fool around in and on the two Volvo 245s that were parked there, but I wasn't licensed to drive yet. It wasn't until high school that I had any memorable rides in wagons that were moving. I guess it was the summer before my junior year that I was busted for being my high school's beer distributor. The result was three of my closest friends and me losing our drivers' licenses simultaneously. It was time to make new friends. A kid in my Latin class had read the stories in the paper(which shouldn't have been written about a 16 year old, BTW), and invited me to come to a party with his group of friends. He had a '79 Impala three-row, and would end up with five or more passengers as a result. Everyone except the driver loved that wagon, as it was a way of getting from party to party drunk and or stoned without being the one driving. I never gave the hardship of driving it a second thought, but my new friend hated his station wagon. Sometimes when he didn't have passengers, groups of lowlifes would taunt him about his mother's car. At the first opportunity, the wagon was dumped in favor of a Mazda GLC sedan. He's got a son now, and his wife has a Pacifica minivan. I'm guessing that van will be long gone before his son is old enough to drive though.

  • PeterKK PeterKK on Aug 26, 2019

    We had a Taurus wagon in High School. Don't remember where we got it. Someone spilled a crockpot or something in the back and we were stuck with that smell forever (luckily it wasn't horrible/rancid). We were also stuck forever with sporadic overheating issues. Blast the heater and keep going! We'll make it to school alright. That thing sucked. Would not touch it with a ten foot pole. But I guess it beat walking.

  • Dukeisduke A '51 Chevy Styleline De Luxe 4-door next to it, in the same color (Fathom Green) as the one my grandfather owned. It has a couple of accessories visible - bumper guards, like on my grandfather's, and the rear fender moldings above the taillights, which his didn't have.
  • Scott Do any car companies research demographics?going after a shrinking car buying market isn’t a recipe for success.hazrd a guess that most people in their prime car buying years don’t know anything about broncos or give a sht about a heritage model. Going to die on the vine. Bad strategy and failure for future growth
  • MaintenanceCosts The Jeep 4xes are impressive vehicles, even after accounting for the expected Stellantis/FCA lack of reliability. A Wrangler is not of any use to me but this powertrain in a Grand Cherokee L will be on my test-drive list when it inevitably happens.I just wish the gas engine were something other than a coarse and ugly-sounding four. These cars with either the Pentastar or the six-pot Hurricane would rocket right to the top of the list, although I'm sure they would sacrifice a couple of mpg when running on gas.
  • Mike Beranek The suicide door T-Bird in blue is a stunner. I love the look of that car.
  • Cprescott Interesting car. Even in its current condition it looks better than any Honduh made in the last decade. Honduhs already come with a built in junkyard designed look - mishmash of elements that don't work well together.