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Rare Station Wagon: 1956 Powell Sport Wagon

UPDATE – We showed this rare Powell Sport Wagon last December and the seller is listing it again, here on craigslist, with a slightly lower asking price of $26,000 or best offer. It’s a very rare and interesting vehicle but we wonder if any buyers will be enticed with just a $1,000 drop in the asking price? Thanks to rex m for sending in this tip, and let us know your thoughts on this Powell Station Wagon!

FROM 12/13/2020 – Why do the rarest vehicles always seem to have the least spectacular photos? This 1956 Powell Sport Wagon is about as rare as it gets and it’s unfortunate that the photos are really not that good. But whatever, the vehicle speaks for itself which is maybe why the photos are the quality that they are. This one is listed here on eBay in Oceanside, California and there is a buy-it-now price of $27,000 listed or you can make an offer. Thanks to Kyle K. for sending in this tip!

My apologies for chastising the seller of this unbelievably rare and very cool Powell Sport Wagon. You could almost sell this car without photos, just list it as a 1956 Powell Sport Wagon that has been restored and was displayed in the Peterson Museum, which in this case is true on both counts. Need I say more? It’s a bit over-restored for me with the thin whitewall tires, chrome wheel covers, and chrome grille and bumpers, but it’s hard to deny that it looks like a nice restoration.

I don’t remember the Powell Sport Wagon or Pickup having chrome bumpers or chrome slide-out fishing pole “tube” covers, I believe that they would have been painted body color or the bumpers possibly would have been painted white. But, when a person restores a vehicle that they own, the beauty of living in the free world is that they can do whatever they want with it. Chrome is a bit fancy for what was a very non-fancy vehicle but it looks good here.

Powell Manufacturing was known for making motor scooters in the 1940s in sunny southern California and they switched to producing these very interesting pickups and station wagons in the early-1950s. They used restored 1940 and 1941 Plymouth chassis and drivetrains which at the time were cheap and plentiful. It’s one of the reasons that the company went out of business in late-1956 or early-1957 – those Plymouth chassis were being depleted. It would have been great if they could have changed gears to use something else, who knows how these vehicles would have evolved over the years.

As expected, there are no engine photos here, but they would have had typically used Plymouth 201 cubic-inch inline-six engines. Some did use Dodge engines, and even a few Chrysler drivetrains reportedly made it into Powell Sport Wagons. The company made around 1000 pickups and only about 150 of the station wagon models and they’re rare to see today. Have any of you seen a Powell Sport Wagon station wagon?


  1. stillrunners

    Rare and didn’t know they made a wagon – looks nice !

    Like 17
    • RussellS

      I agree, never knew about the wagon and have only seen one pickup in person.

      Like 3
  2. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Had an opportunity to pick up a very nice original dark blue Powell Sport Wagon in the mid 1980s out in the Barstow, CA area, but shipping costs were almost double what I would have paid for the car, so instead I bought a 1948 Packard Super 8 convertible, rust-free southern California car. [Still have it.]

    Like 19
  3. Kenneth Carney

    Makes you wonder what might’ve happened if Powell Motors had either
    found another pre existing frame for
    their cars or built their own. Just imagine someone out there re launching
    this car using the materials and technology available today. It boggles
    my mind when I see one of these things
    posted on BF. I’m sure someone out there might do it, but not in my lifetime.

    Like 2
  4. Howard A Member

    Always thought of the Powell as a car you’d get from Heathkit, or some mail order outfit. The wagon just appears to be the pickup with a rear hardtop grafted on. About as generic a car as one could get. Neat find, for sure.

    Like 11

      The wagons were made from the trucks, the cab roof actually has a flip up piece in the back and the wagon roofs were actually plywood, all but 1.

      Like 5
  5. Richard

    I didn’t know they made an SUV. Can’t be many out there.

    Like 3
  6. chrlsful

    “…Have any of you seen a Powell Sport Wagon station wagon?…”
    “No” & the 1st pic reminded me of the pick up (which I’ve seen several times). The scrolling dwn & seein the chrome “fishin pole covers’ convinced me. Thanks for the link to orig advert. I disagree w/seller abt “the 1st suv” tho. #1) not 4WD, 2) not truck based, and so on…

    Like 1

    Since there is only 3 operable wagons out of 11 shown on the registry this is the only one that will be changing hands in semi-restored condition. This wagon is also missing the side body trim, somebody along the way installed disc brakes & a chevy alternator.

    I have a Powell wagon listed on eBay as well, and I bought it to restore but at this point it’s yard art, I mean it has so much patina it’s sad. I am selling it to work on my 1954 Powell of which only 3 are known. We also own the red/white Powell that was on My Classic Car Medford Cruise 2019

    Like 9
  8. Gerard Frederick

    Why on earth would any sane, rational person spent ANY amount of money buying THIS?

    Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


      Well let’s see . . .

      I like taking a rare & unusual vehicle to a show, a vehicle that the public rarely gets to see. I enjoy listening to what the public has to say.

      I’ve always preferred unusual vehicles and 99% of those people who see my cars for the first time are glad I brought them out.

      It’s not just the car, it’s often the history of the specific car that the people like to enjoy. I have a fairly unique Vanden Plas limousine that was owned by the British Government and used here in America by the Royal Family. I’ve made many a kid’s day by letting them sit in the back seat of the limo, in the very seat the current Queen Of England has sat.

      But then again, I might add that those who know me well, might question if I AM sane or rational, as I’ve owned hundreds of vintage vehicles over the last 50+ years. I do know that it’s been a long, grand ride!

      Like 39
  9. Steve RM

    I think Powell quit making these and the pickups because the government intervened. They didn’t meet the necessary requirements to be a car manufacturer.

    Like 1
  10. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    It’s been some time since I saw a Powell, but I have seen a Sport Wagon and a few pickups through out my 73 years. Never had a hankerin for either one, but they are interesting to look at. When I go to a car show I look for something different or at least a car that’s the only one at a show. Many times my Riviera is the only one at a show. I might not win ribbons, trophies or prizes because I my paints not perfect and I don’t spend hours on end polishing and cleaning my car, but it is a rust free mostly original car with loads of options and with its 425 c.i. V8 with 340 hp and 465 lbs.ft. Torque with dual cherry bomb exhaust it thunders and roars with excelleration that will burn the rear tires off and roll down the highway at whatever speed I choose to drive. It rides smooth and handles nicely, and you just can’t beat a country drive with all the windows down on a warm sunny day.
    Keep the unusual stuff coming.
    God bless America

    Like 15
  11. K. R. V.

    Oh I have a great idea! Why not buy the name, then fab together a body, to transplant onto old Prius platforms? Or even possibly Tesler platforms?

    Like 1
  12. Craig

    Let everyone have there own desire. The rarest thing about these cars and trucks is somebody started their own car company and built what they wanted. How often do you hear about that? Not a super expensive wonder car, but something you could drive on the street. Let’s see some more initiative again from small makers

    Like 9

      Tesla comes to mind. They started out with electric Lotus Elise in 2008.

      Zero Motorcycles started out in a small strip mall in Scotts Valley CA. I went in that store one time, it was a father and son as I recall. A welder I know in Santa Cruz built the very first frames for Zero. Now Zero is a successful manufacturer still in Scotts Valley CA

      Like 1
  13. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this Powell is relisted at $25,950.

    Like 0
  14. Mikefromthehammer

    I have NEVER heard of Powell before, so this BF was a real treat.

    I don’t think I would actually buy one, as the inevitable impossible scarcity of parts would be the biggest Excedrin headache ever.

    Like 5
  15. Rod

    And ahead of it’s time
    Powell is a painful loss to the auto industry

    Like 2
  16. Steve Clinton

    “Sport Wagon” might be stretching the truth.

    Like 1
    • SubGothius

      “Sport” in the sense of “sportsman” — hunting, fishing, camping, etc.

      Like 1
  17. luke arnott

    There is,or was,one in the old Towe museum in Sacramento.

    Like 3
  18. Joe Sewell

    New to me – thanks for this bit of American Automotive History!

    Like 2

      There’s some nice articles in recent publications Vintage Truck Oct 2020, Old Cars Weekly Mar 15 2021. The articles were written by the Powell Registry owner, Elderton, as well as the Powell sons and myself, Miles Chappell. I own 2 Powell trucks, a Phantom 7 minibike and a Powell cathedral radio. I finally sold my rusty wagon nick-named Tetanus, to another Powell buddy out in AZ.

      Like 2
  19. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I had forgotten about an incident in or about the summer of 1960, when riding through town on Main Street in my brothers 55 Ford f-100 that was raked high in the rear and dropped in the front we came to a red light. On the sidewalk was a very attractive young lady in a bikini. The guy behind us was driving a Powell pickup and watching the girl. He didn’t notice that we stopped and ran into the back of us. My brothers back bumper went over the Powell’s front bumper taking out his grill and radiator. My brothers pickup suffered no damage. The young man driving the Powell was very angry at himself, but he still managed to drive it to a parking lot around the corner. Don’t know what happened to him after that, or the Powell.
    God bless America

    Like 4
  20. Mike

    This was spotted by Kyle K.? The guy that was providing all sorts of oddball listings for BaT before they went all auctions and didn’t need his input?

    Like 3
  21. Solosolo UK Solosolo Member

    There are photos of the engine on the Craigs list advert.

    Like 0
  22. Rod

    I’ve just read the Wikipedia write up on the Powell brothers and their company.
    Very courageous and innovative. They were active making radios, pickups, the sports wagon we have seen, and light motorcycles – for the army as well. Brilliant story.

    Like 1
  23. Chris Londish Member

    These should have been called an Angler Mobile with those rod storage compartments but this looks really nice

    Like 0
  24. Barry

    It’s worth about 18K.

    Like 1

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