Before Real American Families drove SUVs and minivans, they drove full-sized Detroit station wagons.
I’m not a wagon fanatic and it doesn’t break my heart that wagons are no longer mainstream (although it does break my heart that Chrysler didn’t bring back wagons with huge tailfins instead of the PT Cruiser), but I recognize that the archetypal Detroit wagon of the 1960s and 1970s was the Ford Country Squire. I can’t resist photographing a junked Squire when I see one in the junkyard, and so here’s a Late Malaise Era Country Squire I spotted in a San Francisco Bay area wrecking yard.
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 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.
Will the faux-woodgrain Country Squire Junkyard Finds never stop? Not if I can keep finding them! We started this sequence with this ’76, then followed up with this ’77 and this ’86. Today’s Squire is another Panther platform “woodie” wagon, Detroit’s traditional rear-drive family hauler for the late 1980s.
We saw a 1976 Country Squire Junkyard Find yesterday, after going seven months since seeing this ’75 Country Squire, but this Denver yard has given us back-to-back (actually, tailgate-to-tailgate) Malaise Era Country Squires. Today’s find is in far better shape than yesterday’s (which is both cool and saddening), so let’s check it out!
The perceived usefulness of full-sized station wagons of the Malaise Era dropped down to about zero when minivans and SUVs became mainstream family-hauler options in the late 1980s. You see a few wagon freaks restoring these things nowadays, but for every Country Squire that gets restored (or even preserved), a hundred others get sent to the knackers. Here’s a well-worn ’76 that I spotted in Denver a couple weeks back.