Tall Hauler: 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

Stupid refrigerator, how am I supposed to bring this thing home, and I’m not paying to have it delivered! No worries, this 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire is your answer. Or, it will be after a few weekends (weeks/months) of work. This interesting hauler is listed on eBay with bids of over $1,100 and it’s located in Painesville, Ohio.

These are really interesting cars. Brooks Stevens designed this rear-roof-opening wagon based on a Studebaker Lark wagon but above the beltline it was modified with an opening portion to allow for hauling tall items. I know, it’s an odd concept, but for those folks who couldn’t afford a pickup and a car, it seemed like a good idea. The Lark-based Wagonaire didn’t last too long, from 1963 to 1966 and a Daytona version was also available in the beginning of the model’s run. GM came out with a similar SUV version in the early-2000s as the GMC Envoy XUV.

Early models had problems with leaky roofs as you can already imagine. The company rushed a hardtop Wagonaire to market and tried, somewhat successfully, to repair the leak issues. Those early problems harmed the already-on-the-ropes company’s reputation for quality. Here’s an old Wagonaire commercial on YouTube.

This example is quite a project as you can tell. The seller is selling it for a friend who was going to turn it into a demolition derby car and he couldn’t stand to see happen. He’s hoping that someone grabs it, and they will since there is no reserve! A few bidders see the value here, hopefully it can be restored. The interior looks decent, front and rear. They have included a few underside photos and some of them look solid, and some others like this one, don’t look so solid.

This is Studebaker’s 170 cubic-inch inline-six with around 100 hp. It looks pretty clean in that engine compartment. Supposedly this one runs great off of a gas can so be prepared for the usual jobs on this car. It also needs brakes, which you already know. What do you think of the Wagonaire concept for hauling tall objects while still having the function and human hauling ability of a station wagon?

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Comments

  1. Joe Howell

    Helped a girl move who had one of these. Really cool to move a refrigerator standing up. Hope someone fixes it up.

    4
  2. DrinkinGasoline

    If and when restored, close attention will have to be payed to creating solid roof seals. The demise of the Envoy XUV was in fact, due to leakage issues. I worked at GM dealers during it’s introduction and sales numbers were low but complaints were high. Anytime a manufacturer messes with a fixed roof, they leak. Ford Skyliner and Retractable, as well as GM T-Tops, for example. The body flexes and the roof is the weak link. I’d like to see this one restored.

    4
  3. Glenn L Brown

    For over 35 years, there’s been a green Wagonaire sitting next to a barn, about a mile from me………with the roof open.

    I always thought the Wagonaire was pretty cool, probably because I had (actually still have) a toy Matchbox version of one, complete with a functioning roof.

    8
  4. Beatnik Bedouin

    I always thought the Wagonaire was a cool concept.

    Sadly, this particular example looks pretty rusty.

    3
  5. Ken

    Dad had a 66, of course we moved everyone’s fridge, even dug up and moved a 13 foot tall crabapple tree, upright! Was a great car until the first really cold day in November ( in Chicago) when after a rain, the first stop proceeded to dump all the rain water that leaked into the passengers side slide pocket over my Moms shoulder, which naturally gave her a cold shoulder to give my Dad ! I loved that car, but it was rotted out in two years.

    3
  6. Ken Carney

    Boy! I could use this to haul newspapers
    for my SIL’s route. I could open that roof
    and pitch both sides at the same time!
    And hey…it’s got a 6-cylinder too! Gotta
    love that. If the car is in any kind of driving shape, I’d fix what was needed and use it the way it is. That way, I wouldn’t have to worry about what would
    happen if someone tapped it. Drive it,
    use it. No trailer queens here!

    3
    • leiniedude Member

      Hi Ken, Great idea on the paper toss! Growing up my Dad managed the State Journal in town. I remember riding along and watching him hurl the rolled up newspaper that I had just rubber banded over the roof onto the house porches. What an arm! Some did go into the bushes, thats when I went back to work again. I don’t think my Dad ever retrieved them if I was not along. Thanks for the memory! Take care, Mike.

      2
  7. Robert black

    I had the near mate to this car,same color,but mine was a 259 V-8 with a three on the tree and OD. also, it was in much better shape,all I did was paint it really. this one is likely a parts car,to far gone,and a six with an auto wouldn’t be much fun anyway. they were a very solid car and I used mine as a hunting rig and found it did off roading quite well with its twin traction rear-end.

    3
  8. Bob C.

    Oh yeah! Think Matchbox Toys! Sorry to correct you Scotty, but these Skybolt Sixes had 112 horses, up 22 from the previous flathead s they were built up from. Love these old Studes.

    1
  9. Loco Mikado

    Most parts are readily available for Studebakers although I would say Wagonaire specific parts may be harder to find. The roof drains on these need to be working or you have the same situation as one posters mother did. Studebaker V8 engines in good condition can be readily be found and a SBC or 230 six is a peice of cake as all the parts to install them are available as Studebaker used the GM version of the 283 and a 230 6 cylinder in ’65-’66, the last two years Studebakers were produced.

    2
  10. Rodney

    I own one of these and it’s next on the to-do list. 63 Wagonaire Daytona with a yellow V8. Don’t forget the little fold-down ladder to climb in back.

    2
  11. Ken Carney

    Hi Mike! Just got back into doing paper
    routes with my SIL after 15 years of
    retirement from that job after losing my
    wife to a stroke in 2003. My wife and I
    ran routes right up to the time she passed. We did it 16 years and had a
    blast doing it. Still recall one Sunday
    morning when I destroyed a customer’s
    mailbox by hitting it with one of those
    Sunday monsters. I knew that I was in
    trouble when she used all my names!
    When we bought a car back then, we
    chose it for the ability to carry a fair
    amount of papers for the least amount
    of money. We ran mostly Chevy Citations
    and AMC Concord wagons. They were
    cheap and easy to fix when something
    broke. Nowadays, I sit in the tail of my
    SIL’s Kia Soul and pitch out the left side
    while listening to Hair Nation on Syrius
    XM the whole night through. My how
    times have changed!

    3
    • leiniedude Member

      Sorry about your wife Ken, sounds like you are having some fun again! Pop used to drive four door base Fury’s. Part of being a manager was he had to take bundles of papers on about an 80 or 90 mile road trip to about 6 smaller towns. I remember when it would snow, making the papers late the phone would ring off the wall! Take care Buddy!

  12. wuzjeepnowsaab

    You can see how Brooks brought the Wagonaire design with him to Kaiser for the Wagoneer. Lots of design elements that are similar

    1
  13. Charlie

    I had one the same color, a Daytona with every option you could buy. Should have kept it!

  14. Alexander

    If I recall correctly, the Matchbox Wagonaire came with a little plastic hunter with rifle and a stationary dog in the back cargo hold. I think I chopped the head off the dog and tossed away the hunter.

    • Concinnity

      The Matchbox version is the one vastly more people will have seen compared to the real Lark Wagonaire. I remember as a wee lad playing with mine and wondering why a sliding roof wagon wasn’t more common, in real life, it seemed to make so much sense. Five year olds don’t worry about roof leaks.

      3
  15. Bob C.

    Wuzjeepnowsaab, I believe you are right. Never noticed that before. You’re good, man.

  16. Wayne

    I was lucky enough to meet Brooks at his museum in Wisconsin one day. We had a nice long conversation standing in front of one these wagons. Many, many years later when working at a GMC dealership and the Envoy XUVs came out. I was not a very popular person at the new model introduction. When I corrected the the presenter about the “NEW” concept. Guess what? GMCs had the same issue with leaks! But the customers that bought them kept them a long time despite the leaks. As you could not be the versatility.

    1
    • Miguel

      “But the customers that bought them kept them a long time despite the leaks.”

      Or they couldn’t sell them.

  17. Roger Gorski

    Am I the only one who votes for the original owner to do what he originally planned? It would be a great car for a Demolition Derby. Rest in peace!

  18. Pat

    The original Nomad concept car had a telescoping roof. Didn’t make production, but they left those grooves stamped in the roof to simulate it.

    2
  19. RetroRick

    Oh Wilbur! Mr Ed pitches the Wagonaire. Thought I remembered it. https://macsmotorcitygarage.com/video-mr-ed-pitches-the-1963-studebaker-wagonaire/

  20. Dixiedog

    Ribs in the roof of a production design station wagon or suburban etc. are typically used to add stiffness and keep the roof from “oil canning”. This is referred to as increasing section properties by the engineers. Also helps when a roof rack is loaded up.

    1
  21. Bill Pressler

    A curator at the Studebaker National Museum reported before the XUV was released, that GM had requested blueprint copies from the Wagonaire, which the museum has in their archives. For real.

  22. OldCarNut

    Back in those days the Buick Skylark wagon had a sliding rear roof concept car built. Not sure if it ever made it into production. They may have had the same leakage issues as the other manufacturers.

  23. leiniedude Member

    Well bought in my opinion. Ended: Apr 15, 2018 , 6:54PM
    Winning bid:US $1,180.00
    [ 14 bids ]

    1
  24. chad

    “What do you think of the Wagonaire concept…”
    As U may know I’m a 40 yrs runnin wagon guy. I like this 1 if H2O proof.
    Also like the seperate exh & intake manifolds. There’s some easy “hop up” mods there ( performance’n MPGs). May B efi it?

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