Live Auctions

The Wagonmasters


Some people just don’t get wagons. My own wife wouldn’t be caught dead in one and many share her hatred. Yet I secretly lust for one for one of these practical haulers. I’m not entirely sure why though. Sure, they combine truck practicality with car dynamics, but maybe there is more to it than that. Sam Smartt and Christopher Zaluski both wondered why people like me have this fascination so they put together a documentary on the subject. So if you share my affection or just want to know what is wrong with all of us, then you should pick up a copy.

You know the future of the wagon is endangered when Volvo stops importing the body style that made them famous here and replaces it with a crossover. Luckily there are still a few enthusiasts out there like the creators of this film who are keeping the wagon flame alive. They give us hope and perhaps we shouldn’t give up on the wagon just yet. In fact, Volvo just announced that they are bringing a real wagon back to our shores soon. Put us down for a manual please!


  1. Hank Engel

    The American wagon is not dead Check Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon even available in the CTS-V 556 HP Supercharged 6.2L V8 that will put life in any wagonmaster.

  2. Dolphin Member

    What a great idea, and a great promo—a celebration of the American station wagon, one of the most underated vehicle types ever made. Love those ’50s wagons in the promo and the earliest ones, the Woodies, even more. In the ’60s I watched Pontiac wagons like the one in the promo clean up in their class at a few drag strips. The owners knew a wagon was the secret to getting traction off the line and low ETs.

    The writeup mentions Volvo wagons and the promo mentions getting a 4X8 plywood panel in a wagon—US, I guess, since a Volvo wagon will take the width but not the length. Our extended family has always had at least one true wagon since the ’50s, and still does—first US, then mostly Volvos once the US went to the SUV: 122, 145, 245, V70, V70 XC series.

    Actually Volvo isn’t the last true wagon. BMW makes the best looking one. I drove one with a 2.8 litre six 219 kms/hr (2-way average) on the Autobahn between Munich and Switzerland and back. Great car, great road. About 50% of all the cars I saw there were wagons, and exactly two US-made SUVs during 2,200 kms of driving. They love wagons over there…adopted the US wagon design and ran with it.

    • Carl W. French

      The big Volvo wagons (7 and 9 series), come up a foot or two short for swallowing a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood but you can take 10 foot long lumber or pipe if you don’t mind it resting on the dash. You can take a huge pile of 8′ boards on the console and what is too big for the inside can go one the roof or in my case, my 5 x 8.5 utility trailer. Who needs a pickup? My first wagon belonged to my now ex wife back in ’80. She had ’79 Pinto wagon that was actually a nice driving very solid car. When she got pregnant we traded it in for a new Plymouth Reliant wagon which was a tinny pos. After that we had a great ’79 Grand Wagoneer, a Crown Vic, an Olds Vista Cruiser, and then a series of three Taurus/Sable wagons til I discovered RWD Volvo wagons of which I now have a 240, 740, and 940. They perfectly compliment the MGs and Triumph Bonneville project. Nice feature that the Tauruses and Volvos have is the wagons got Four wheel disc brakes standard. Who needs an SUV or a pickup? My (current, 20 years) wife drives the 740 and loves it. Just bought a wagon because my wife was going to have a baby and now that 30 year old has his own Volvo wagon :-)

    • Dolphin Member

      “…you can take 10 foot long lumber or pipe if you don’t mind it resting on the dash.”
      I have done exactly that, a couple of times. Just wrap some padding around the dash end and off you go.

      When we were researching wagons I found a report on the 2001 V70 in R&T that said it was the only wagon they tested that could take a 4-ft wide racing go-cart flat on the floor in back. For some gearhead reason that fact appealed to me, and we bought one as the family car. The head gasket on the high pressure turbo T5 engine gave up after 240,000 kms, but other than that it did the job, and more.

      • scot

        ~ my ex-brother-in-law and i transported all of the carpet for his 1680 sq.ft. house, from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City in one of my Volvo wagons back in the ’70s. it barely squatted from the stock stance.

  3. David

    Doesn’t Volkswagen still make a wagon? I saw the Jetta Sport Wagon in the 2012 Line-up.

    • jim

      yes they do. TDI gets 30/42 mpg starting at $ 26250, $ 20795 for the gas model, per vw site.

      • jim s

        made that jim s.

      • David

        Ok thank you

  4. jim s

    always SW’s in my family. sleeper was the hornet sportabout with a V8. one i should have kept was the volvo 245 with VW diesel, manual trans with o/d and third row seat.

  5. scot

    ~ i ignored wagons for a number of years until my dad found my first Volvo, a mustard yellow ’72 145. i’ve tried to own one at all times since.
    . to Dolphin’s racing reference, my friend, neighbor, and chief mechanic, Hank won track champion in his class at our favorite strip with the Woodie Wonder Draggin Wagon Buick a few years ago.

  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    Growing up we had at least one wagon (or SUV) in our family. An International Travelall, a couple of Valiants (’61 and ’63), and a couple of full-sized Dodges. I’d love to have the ’61 Valiant but otherwise, wagons never appealed to me until the Chevelle came out. A ’69 Chevelle would look good in my driveway, however, my Better Half isn’t so enthusiastic. For some reason she hates wagons (except maybe an early ’30s Ford Woodie). I just about came home with a ’52 Plymouth Suburban, a fabulous garage find with 19K miles on it. I showed her a picture and she mentioned something about us having (2) zip codes if I bought it. Strange how she has no trouble with our SUVs.

  7. Mike

    Damn, wrote a book about me. I don’t understand what draws me to them either and my wife won’t ride in one either.

  8. Capt. Mike

    I have owned several wagons over the years, the first was a new 72 Chevy Caprice with all the whistles and bells. The latest is my Ford Flex which may be one of the best riding cars I have owned including my Caddie Eldorado.

  9. Your Name

    Love my Subaru Outback Sport Utility Wagon

  10. joel collins

    Yes, I want to see this film. I grew up with wagons, dad’s (first that I remember anyway) was a ’40 Ford woodie, and there were others.

    Recently my favorite was an ’03 Subaru WRX that I only got rid of this past year-and still miss the stealthy utility and zoom zoom character…

  11. Jim Mosley

    Surely is good to see something on Barn Finds after a month of nothing!!

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      What do you mean by that Jim? We have been cranking them out.

      • Jim Mosley

        Jesse, Darned if I know why I didn’t get any for the last month, but they are coming through great now. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  12. Don Andreina

    Ah… wagons. Be still my beating heart. From the woody Buicks of the late 40s to the clamshells of the 70s, the vista cruisers to the exotic Citroens, I have always considered the wagon more desirable than the sedan. It’s an aesthetic thing, the wagon roofline creating a speedline when the car is in profile. Most of my friends cannot fathom this, deriding wagons as the the least acceptable body option. Most exquisite of all is the Maremma, the one-off Fiat 130 shooting brake used by Gianni Agnelli.

  13. rancho bella

    I love wagons……..there just so much you can do in one when your are 17, and boy,
    did I…………… the next day haul bags of horse poop for the garden.

  14. ConservativesDefeated

    Am I missing something or did that Pontiac wagon say GTO on it and have 4 on the floor?

    In what parallel universe does this exist?

    • braktrcr

      Obviously the GTO emblems were added but yes there were 4 speed wagons. See my other post below

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Yeah that caught my attention too! That could be the coolest vehicle in the whole film. Makes me want to start hunting for a Safari to build my own.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      We did a little digging and found a little more info on the GTO Safari. It is owned by Rocky Boyle who is a member of the Tarheel Tigers Pontiac Club. Pontiac never officially offered the GTO package on a wagon, so we have to assume that Rocky added it himself. It would seem wrong to do to a two-door, but it is just plain cool on a wagon.

      • Don Andreina

        Once saw for sale a VF Valiant (Aussie version of a 67 Dodge Dart with modified nose) Pacer Wagon. The Pacer was a sports option with a two barrel carbie version of the 225, finned drums, go-fast trim and extra instrumentation. Did my research and found out 9 Pacer wagons came out of the factory. Still kicking myself over this one (and many others)

  15. scot

    ~ Italian for ‘exquisite’, anyone?

    • scot

      ~ ‘Squisita’

      • Don Andreina

        vero e propio squisita

  16. Okiedude

    Gotta love a wagon. Mom always had one growing up in the 60’s-early 70’s, all of my friends mom’s had one too.
    Maybe that’s why I now race a Subaru WRX wagon-LOL!!!

  17. Scott A.

    Olds did do a Hurst Vista Cruiser Station Wagon around 1970.

  18. Andacar

    The first car I ever really really wanted when I was 22 was a 1974 Ford LTD Country Squire. The used car lot wouldn’t come down on the price even though it needed a rebuilt engine, so it never happened. But I’d still buy one today, or better yet, one of those big Buick or Oldsmobile wagons from the mid 70s with the power clamshell tailgate.

  19. MikeH

    Station wagons still exist–they’ve just been renamed crossover. It’s done all the time–same product, new name. It’s an easy way to fool the younger ones that don’t remember station wagons. I have a VW Jetta sportwagon–2.5L 5 sp gas. You can have a hauler and have fun as well.

  20. Mike B.

    “The Wagon Queen Family Truckster. You think you hate it now, wait until you drive it!”

    But seriously, I appreciate a nice wagon. But I don’t think I could ever own one.

  21. erikj

    Ya I love wagons also . I drive a 91 subaru for work(maintence) that thing is awsome for hauling stuff and great on gas. And On the weekends when i go camping it hauls the dog some firewood and all my other stuff. Best of all i fold the seats down and make a full size bed . and its unstopable in the snow with its 4wd Im warm and dry and comfy Funny but my real pashon is muscle cars. I remember on my way to school in the 70 s there was this pontiac wagon that was a drag car. It was called the worm And was some kind of record holder here in the westen washington area.

  22. braktrcr

    When my brother came home from the Service in 72, he wanted a cheap transportation car. I spotted a 64 Biscayne wagon with some decent size tires on it. Told my brother about it, guessing 283 powerglide. Knocked on the door, man raised the hood, 409, factory 4 speed Yep Brother forked over the $500 for it What a sleeper Bet it would be worth a Gazillion today

  23. Northstar

    We considered our first generation SRX a wagon, had the third row only good for the young ones.

  24. datsoon

    The following is actually a true story believe it or not. When we- the neighbourhood kids- were around 10 years old. The Rambler Station Wagon came out. We lived up the hill in North Vancouver. We used to get quite a bit of snow in the early sixties. My friends dad got a new wagon which he put chains on as it was quite common to get up the hill. One day he attached his water ski rope to the back of the wagon. His wife put on her snow skis and off they went down the street. Of course all the kids wanted to try it. They lowered the back so we could all sit hanging out the back and watch “mom” trail around behind the car. Except for the fact that it was kind of dangerous we would all yell when we saw a big brown spot-which was the manhole covers with no snow because were too warm and kind of dulled the old skis. In the summer time he took six of us kids in the back of the Rambler out to Lighthouse Park to tour the lighthouse where we learned that on back windy roads when coming to a sharp corner you should honk the horn in case you met someone coming the other way and you might get a few seconds notice and move tight to the corner. OH by the way this guy was a real car guy and a car dealer. He also brought home a NEW MARLIN demo a few years later. Futuristic time machine we thought.

  25. stigshift

    I grew up in a ’71 Ford Country Sedan. I have never understood why America essentially abandoned the station wagon for the SUV. If I were to win the lottery, half of my collection would be wagons.

  26. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    Lot’s of love for the wagon here. It is good to know I’m not alone!

  27. Keith

    I had a 2nd Generation Sable wagon, then a 2nd generation Taurus Wagon, liked them both, but I frequently thoughts about what a great mash up it would be to combine the aft body of the Taurus wagon with the chassis and front end of a 93 to 95 T-Bird. Either in a four door or two door configuration. Perfect combination, RWD, V-8, smooth aero styling. Now if I had any Photoshop skills I would do a photo hack to see what it would really look like.
    The Taurus wagon morphed into the Taurus X, then the Flex. A wagon is disguise.

  28. Capt546

    We are on our second Ford Flex, we like the retro look and the interior leg room hands down beat everything except for the Suburban or the Expedition, I have had several of both. The ride is far better than the truck chassis big SUV. I am 6’5″ and even with the driver seat all the way back, the back seat has so much more additional leg room that i can set behind the drivers seat with 4-6″ to spare. The third row of seats have ample leg room for most everyone else. We get 24 MPG to boot, far better than our Expeditions.

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