Two-Door Wagon Showdown

Two Door Wagons

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What’s cooler than a two-door station wagon? They are an interesting mixture of practicality and impracticality. On one hand you can haul all kinds of junk in the back, yet with just two doors they aren’t great people haulers. This Wagon Wednesday we thought we would do a salute to all the practical impracticability of the two-door wagon. Readers Richard B and Connor B both shared their recent online finds and since we couldn’t pick our favorite, we decided to feature all four! All of these cars are for sale, so be sure to take a look at them all right after the break.

1957 Pontiac Safari Wagon

The first of these wagons we are going to look at is easily the most desirable and sought after of the bunch. It is a 1957 Pontiac Star Chief Safari Nomad, which if you know your GM products, is essentially a Chevy Nomad with the Pontiac treatment. Besides being restyled with Pontiac trim and accents, the Safari also received the 347 V8 rather than Chevy’s 283. The extra displacement gave the Safari about 50 more horses, making it the sportier of the two. With Safari Nomad production totaling in at less than 10k, these are rather valuable. Obviously it is going to need a complete restoration, but we are sure someone out there would love to undertake the project. Be sure to take a closer look at it here on craigslist. (Richard B)

1957 Studebake Champion Pelham

Our next wagon was also built in 1957, but never garnered the attention that the Nomad did. This 1957 Studebaker Champion Pelham 2 door wagon might not be worth as much as the Pontiac, but it is rarer and in some ways more unique. The Pelham was based on Studebaker’s Champion and came with their 185 inline 6. This one needs work, but the seller is including a complete Studebaker Commander as a parts car. Its 259 V8 should fit in the Pelham and would make up for the lack of displacement. Hopefully between the two-cars someone will be able to put together one good car. The big question would be whether to bring this rare wagon back to original or to install that V8. This one can also be found on craigslist, but with a $4,500 asking price for both cars.

1953 Ford Delivery Wagon

This next wagon isn’t quite like the other two, as it is a delivery wagon. It still is a two-door, but it offered fewer features and was designed to offer more utility for delivery services. This 1953 Ford Delivery Sedan is missing its original motor and transmission, but will accept a wide range of motors and transmissions. At some point, a previous owner added rear side windows. We aren’t sure if we like the look, but if they were installed properly we would probably just leave them alone. It has rust and a few dents and dings, but looks solid enough to be worth restoring. These are getting hard to find, so be sure to take a look at it here on eBay. (Connor B)

1961 Ford Wagon

Next, we have this 1961 Ford Wagon. It is in rough shape and the seller has begun to part it out. So hopefully there is still something there worth saving. Sadly it might be past the point of being rescued and might serve better as a parts car, but given its condition we wouldn’t feel too bad about that. The seller doesn’t list an asking price, but we doubt they want much for it, so if there is anything left it could be a good buy for anyone needing parts or metal. If you are interested in contacting the seller, find their listing here on craigslist. (Richard B)

1960 Plymouth Suburban

This last one isn’t a barn find, so look at it as a bonus find. It is a rather unusual 1960 Plymouth Suburban 2 door. We don’t particularly care for the customization done to it, but we haven’t ever seen one of these before so we decided it was worth overlooking these issues. The seller has done a lot of work to it, so be sure to take a closer look at it here on craigslist. (Richard B)

So out of all these two-door wagons, which do you like the most?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. geomechs geomechsMember

    The ’57 Safari has got my first vote. I’m a little surprised that it didn’t fare as well as the Chevy version did. I’ve seen lots of Nomads but the Pontiacs I can count on one hand.
    The ’53 Ford panel will always appeal to me. Just missed one at a swap meet. I should’ve bit the bullet and made my projects an even (8).

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    • David

      You always see more Chevys than Pontiacs because Chevys were a lower priced car and they sold more. Every time I go to a car show I always see many of the Tri-Five Chevys on display but rarely a Pontiac from that era in any body style. I have always favored the1957 Pontiac for the simple reason that my dad used to have one.

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  2. DolphinMember

    Never could understand Detroit’s reasoning for doing 2-door station wagons—except for the Nomad, of course. I’ve owned the mid-’50s brochures that show it since I was a kid just because it looked so cool, like it was a ’50s resto-modder’s version of the regular chevy wagon.

    I don’t recall seeing a Star Chief Safari in real life but those are just about as appealing as the Nomad, and although any of the ’55-’57 years would do, my pick of all of the 2-door wagons featured here would be the ’57 Star Chief Safari. I can’t resist that fabulous side view with the stylized and chromed arrow, the fins, and that tumblehome rear hatch.

    BTW, I thought the “Nomad” name was only used for the Chevy.

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    • David

      The name “Nomad” was only used for and by Chevy, people referred the the Safara as a Nomad because it was similar.

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  3. Tom S.

    RE: “What’s cooler than a two-door station wagon?” Answer: Nothing. Not one thing.

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  4. DonM

    I remember seeing the Safari (I’ve never heard them refered to as “Safari Nomads”) “in the day” and thinking they were soooo much cooler then the Chevy counterpart.

    The Ford and Plymouth are BOTH a complete surprise. Surprised at how late they were both produced. Two door wagons and “sedan deliveries” were more common in the 50’s, IIRC.

    My great uncle had a 4 door 60 Plymouth wagon in the same color

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  5. Jim-Bob

    It has to be the Star Chief. It’s not only the best looking of the set, but seems like the easiest project too. It’s solid and runs already, plus even the chrome looks like it is in good shape. Yeah, Okay, it’s not the most original choice but then GM cars of that era had a certain flair for design that no one else could match at any price.

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  6. Don Andreina

    53 Ford. And I’d lose the rear side windows.

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  7. vince Habel

    a 259 or 289 will bolt in with the right bell housing and transmission. Even being a Studebaker guy I would take the Pontiac. I like them better than the Nomad.

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  8. jim s

    when these cars were built they did not had child guard door locks or double latch door systems, i think. so a 2 door would be a lot harder for a child to fall out of. i would take the plymouth if it was still stock, but it is not. nice finds

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  9. paul

    Nice collection of long roofs, that last one they must have made damn few of those, I don’t recall ever seeing one. That Pontiac is very cool, never understood why these weren’t as popular as the Chevy’s in value ($), I do like this one.

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    • paul

      5,503 60, Plymouth 2 dr. wagons.

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  10. Mike D

    I could be wrong, but, in at least a few instances ( except for the Chev and the Pont) wasn’t the idea that they were for families who were concerned about the kids falling out? It could be a family hauler and room in the back for groceries and such

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  11. Rene

    can someone fill me in: in what way has the plymouth been customized?

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    • Blake

      @Rene – Full on hot rod engine, different back wheels indicating more rubber. Sort of a stationwagon/race car amalgam. Not impressed really.

      My personal choice would be the Studebaker, it is so cool, looks to be on the small side, and the flathead 6 is ultra cool. Not sure what I’d do with the 4-door, but it seems like a good deal for both cars. Love the front bumper and sliding rear windows.

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  12. KE100

    I would take the plymouth with the mods. That thing is way cool.

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  13. Graham Lloyd

    I’ve had my fair share of old wagons, and still own 3. Seeing these 2 door variants really wants me to get working on my 60 Frontenac 2 door wagon. Soon. (I keep saying)

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  14. Brian

    It seems like the last of the 2 door wagons, VW Fox and Geo Storm come to mind quickly, were less than successful. Since they came out when the Mini Vans were killing the wagons anyway, I think it was a good opportunity for the manufacturers to try marketing these wagons to men. To me, the 2 door wagon seemed abit more masculine, because it was really more of a cargo mover than a kid mover, and with the long two doors, it hinted alittle to the sporter 2 door hardtop. At least, that’s how I’ve always felt about it. Remember, without the 2 door wagons, there probably would never have been an El Camino or Ranchero! I think each manufacturer should have offered a high proformance package, or at least a turbo and some now famous 80’s strips, for their 2 door wagons and pushed them to the family men who needed to have stuff, kids occasionally, but still wanted 2 doors and some go! Maybe it wouldn’t have workered, but look at the cool (and rare) HiPo wagons we’d have to collect now!

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  15. David

    Two door wagons may have been impractical in some people’s opinions, but still they were more practical than a sedan delivery which gradually got phased out around the same time that two door wagons did. With a two door wagon you had a back seat which could be folded down for cargo when needed and two door cars are better when you have small children. You know that they can’t open the door and jump out of the car, and it’s much easier to access a child in the back seat in a two door car than in a four door car.

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  16. DT

    The Pontiac is far from solid,The Ford courier is most likely more solid being from the Bay area,and Salinas is almost perfect country for a car to come from,Galaxies just dont do it for me,but I assume thats a very limited production wagon,dont know if Ive ever seen one such as that.Being a Studebaker guy,Id take the Studebaker

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  17. DT

    Checkout the speedometer on the Studebaker

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  18. Rick

    The 60 Plymouth is my favorite, except I would make a few changes, namely put the front bumper back on and a stock hood (lose the carburetor scoops) trade out the fender well headers for a set a bit more inconspicuous, put on a set of stock tire w/ steel rims and poverty hubcaps, in other words make the thing look totally stock at least from 10 feet away. Result would be the meanest grocery-getting Max Wedge wagon around!

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  19. Rick

    That Stude speedo is referred to as the “bathroom scale” type, a couple of other cars that had the same style were the ’58 Edsel and the Olds Toronado for the first few years of production.

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  20. Brian

    I know this is way off topic, but the ’53 Ford Sedan Delievery looks like it’s parked in front of the cabin from “Little House on the Prairie”. Maybe it was a delivery from Mr. Olson’s store?

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  21. Todd

    In Aus the two door delivery van like the 53 Ford are called “Panel Vans” and are still popular with tradies today. They were also being produced up until the 2000 model year.

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  22. taxijohn

    The 2 door wagon, or estate as they are known over here in the uk lasted much longer, largely because they were cheaper than a 4 door.

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  23. Roar

    I have this wagon and I do like 2 doors wagons more than other wagons besause they are not often seen on the roads.

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  24. Roy Crader

    When i was much younger i bought a 1956 (?) it had a 389 auto with factory tri-power. Has anyone ever seen another one of them?

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