QOTD: Feeling That Burning Wagon Lust?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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.

  • Jeff NYC does have the right to access these charges and unless you are traveling on business or a necessity you don't have to drive or live in NYC. I have been in NYC a few times and I have absolutely no desire to go back. I can say the same thing about Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston where I lived for 29 years. A city can get too big where it is no longer livable for many. I was raised in West Houston near the Katy Freeway which is part of I-10. The Katy Freeway when I moved from Houston in 1987 was a 6 lane road--3 lanes on each side of the interstate with each side having side access roads which we called feeder roads for a total of 8 lanes. Today the Katy freeway has 26 lanes which include feeder roads. I went back to Houston in 2010 to see my father who was dying and lost any desire to go back. To expand the Katy Freeway it took thousands of businesses to be torn down. I read an article about future expansion of the Katy freeway that said the only way to expand it was to either put a deck above it or to go underground. One of the things the city was looking at was to have tolls during the peak hours of traffic. Houston is very flat and it is easier to expand the size of roads than in many eastern cities but how easy is it to expand a current road that already has 26 lanes and is one of the widest roads in the World. It seems that adding more lanes to the Katy freeway just expanded the amount of traffic and increased the need for more lanes. Just adding more lanes and expanding roads is not a long term solution especially when more homes and businesses are built in an area. There was rapid growth In Northern Kentucky when I lived in Hebron near the Northern Kentucky Cincinnati Airport. , Amazon built a terminal and facility onto the airport that was larger than the rest of the airport. Amazon built more warehouses, more homes were being built, and more businesses. Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties in Northern Kentucky are constantly expanding roads and repairing them. Also there is the Brent Spence Bridge which crosses the Ohio River into Cincinnati that is part of I-71 and I-75 and major North and South corridor. The bridge is 60 years old and is obsolete and is in severe disrepair. I-71 and I-75 are major corridors for truck transportation.
  • Art_Vandelay It's not like everyone is topping their ICE vehicles off and coasting into the gas station having used every last drop of fuel either though. Most people start looking to fill up at around a 1/4 of a tank. If you constantly run the thing out of gas your fuel pump would probably be unhappy. If you running your EV to zero daily you probably bought the wrong vehicle
  • ToolGuy Imagine how exciting the automotive landscape will be once other manufacturers catch up with Subaru's horizontally-opposed engine technology.
  • FreedMike Oh, and this..."While London likes to praise its own congestion charging for reducing traffic and increasing annual revenues, tourism has declined..."The reason London's tourism numbers are down is that the city has resumed its' "tourist tax." And why did the tourist tax get reimposed? Brexit. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/tourist-tax-cost-millions-myth-hmrc-survey-foreign-visitors-spending-uk-b1082327.html
  • Dukeisduke Eh, still a Nissan. Nope.