Home Cars 30 Cars That Prove Why Station Wagons Still Matter

30 Cars That Prove Why Station Wagons Still Matter

Vukasin Herbez January 13, 2020

Do you remember station wagons? Those “long-roofs” were once a symbol of suburban America and a favorite for family transport. That was before SUVs and crossovers took over and killed the station wagon class. However, station wagons may be wounded, but they are not dead yet. The first station wagons appeared in the ’50s as practical versions of regular sedans.

They had more room, bigger trunks and perfect for family use. Over the years, station wagons have become lifestyle vehicles, shooting brake coupes and even performance cars. So, here are the 30 most interesting. So, read on to learn lots more about this interesting car class.

  1. Pontiac Bonneville Safari

One of the coolest American station wagons is the late 1950s Pontiac Bonneville Safari. Interestingly, Pontiac always named its long roof models “Safari” and made them special compared to similar GM products.

But what made the 1959 Bonneville Safari so desirable is the 389 V8 that produced 300 HP. It transformed this family cruiser into a proper station wagon muscle car.

  1. Chevrolet Nomad

Station wagons became popular during the ’50s as American families turned to a more suburban lifestyle. When Chevrolet presented its famous Tri-Five models in 1955, one of the most interesting new body styles was the Nomad. It was a three-door station wagon that was stylish yet also practical. Chevrolet also produced a lot of regular four-door long roofs.

But the most interesting version of the Nomad was the Fuelie. It was a rare model with a fuel-injected V8 engine from Corvette that could be dubbed the first muscle station wagon. Combining practical body style with hot fuel-injected 283 V8 small block engine, Chevrolet created a new market niche.

The Nomad was a popular model they designed for small business owners and families. However, with the addition of the 283 HP engine, it was fast and could outperform some sports cars of the day.

  1. Ford Deluxe Station Wagon

When you think of a classic American station wagon, you probably imagine a classic Ford Woody with surfboards on top and signature wood panels on the side. And the 1937 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon equipped with the famous Flathead V8 engine is exactly that. Ford started the Woody revolution with cool-looking wooden bodies, but soon all other Detroit-based brands followed.

Most people consider those models the first proper station wagons they aimed at regular buyers and produced on standard chassis with standard drivetrains. Those models were a bit more expensive than sedans or convertibles. However, they offered much more space and usability, which made them popular with surfers and hot rodders in the ’60s.

  1. Volvo 850 R Wagon

Is there anything more boring in the automotive world than a boxy old Volvo station wagon? Probably not. It’s the typical suburban mom car from the ’90s with loads of space for the kids and their stuff. And it’s slow but dependable and dead boring to drive. You can say all that for a regular Volvo 850 Wagon, but the R version they introduced in 1996 is something completely different.

After the success of the T5 version of the 850 series that featured a turbocharged engine, Volvo decided to go a step further and introduce an all-out sleeper machine in the form of the 850 R. Under the hood, the 2.3-liter five-cylinder engine featured a bigger turbo, different intake system, and electronics, all of which resulted in a respectable 250 HP output.

Despite retaining the front-wheel drive, the Volvo 850 R Wagon still had a good acceleration time of 6.5 seconds to 60 mph and a top speed of almost 160 mph. For the mid-90s this was sports car territory. You can bet there were a lot of confused Porsche owners when those boring Volvo wagons passed them on the highway.

  1. Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon

Even though the Roadmaster Estate Wagon was the least popular body style in the Buick line up, it was the most impactful. And that was because it introduced the station wagon as a category in the American car industry. Of course, there were numerous wagons before, but they were all sedan delivery cars they designed and produced for commercial purposes.

However, when they revealed the Roadmaster Estate in the late ’40s, it changed the game. Suddenly, there was a fresh and interesting long roof they based on a luxury model with a powerful engine, wood grain details, upscale equipment, and prestige. This model showed that people carriers and station wagons can be cool and interesting, although just a few customers decided to purchase this special model.

Compared to the production of the standard Roadmaster, which was around 80,000 per year, they only built several hundred Roadmaster Estate Wagons. Although that was not enough to make Buick any money, it was enough to start a trend.

  1. Chrysler Town and Country Wagon

By the late ’50s, almost all American manufacturers started producing station wagons across the range. With the rising popularity of this body style, car companies offered innovative details, equipment, and features to attract customers. Soon, those full-size models gained more luxury to add to the appeal.

And one of the most interesting models from the period is the 1959 Chrysler Town and Country Wagon. They built it on the full-size platform and powered it with the optional 413 Golden Lion V8 engine. Also, the Town and Country Wagon had an interesting seating configuration with third-row seats facing the tailgate.

Chrysler called the rear-facing seats, the “Observation Deck” and it had power sliding rear glass as an option. Features like this suggested that wagons were not only for family transport but for road trips to discover America through its newly built highways.

  1. Audi RS2

The RS2 was the first in a long line of Audi performance station wagons that brought consumers those supercars with long roofs like the RS6. However, the RS2 is where it all started. Audi engineers took the famous, inline five-cylinder turbo engine with 2.2-liters and 315 HP and put it in the most uninspiring body style they could find, the station wagon.

They also added Quattro all-wheel-drive magic and a manual transmission. Finally, they sent it all to Porsche for a precision final assembly. The result was the RS2, with a 4.8 second time to go from 0 to 60 mph. It had divine road holding in its early 90s form. Unfortunately, the production was limited. So if you see one of those cars at the stoplight, you know you will get left in the dust.

  1. Ford Falcon Wagon

Seeing how compact cars, domestic and imported, were having an increasingly bigger market share made the Ford Motor Company rethink its stand on small vehicles. So, in 1960, they presented the Falcon. The car was nothing special or innovative in terms of design or technology. It had unibody construction, a leaf spring suspension in the back, drum brakes and a standard three-speed manual transmission.

But the secret of the Falcon’s success was its affordability and a long list of options. Despite the fact that the standard model only had a 2.4-liter 90 HP engine, you could get a bigger six-cylinder or the 260 V8. Also, the Falcon was available in several body styles including convertible, sedan delivery and a three or five-door station wagon, which broadened its appeal.

Along with the Chevrolet Corvair, the Falcon Wagon was one of the first compact station wagons. It proved popular with the economy-oriented buyers while providing enough space and usability for young families.

  1. Chevrolet Impala Wagon

Chevrolet always battled Ford in the full-size sedan market. So in 1962, the company took a gamble by introducing an elegant generation of the Impala that departed from design standards of the day. The 1962 to 1964 Impala had restrained, elegant styling with straight lines and signature six taillights in the back and four headlights in the front.

Chevrolet wanted to dominate the extremely lucrative full-size sedan market and equipped Impala with everything they had. The new model featured five body styles and six engines including six and eight-cylinder units.

Also, it had three transmission choices, a long list of optional equipment and one influential and innovative version, the Impala SS. However, the station wagon proved to be popular both in the Impala and Bel Air trim levels. And both featured lots of space, modern features and cool styling.

  1. Audi RS6

When you see the RS badge on an Audi, you know that a special car is in front of you. Ever since the legendary RS2 from the early ’90s, Audi has been producing crazy fast wagons in the A4 and A6 range. And better yet, they equip them with the most powerful engines the company has.

And then they topped it all off with the renewed Quattro all-wheel drive for enhanced traction and performance. Unfortunately, the RS wagon range is not available in the USA. But, it still deserves a place on this list for its sheer beauty and power, as well as the craziness of the package.

The latest RS6 model is an elegant station wagon with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine that delivers 605 HP. The Quattro intelligent all-wheel-drive system is responsible for putting the power to the ground. And the final result is astonishing. The 0 to 60 mph time of 3.9 seconds in a station wagon that can carry five people and their luggage is magnificent.

  1. Ford Country Squire Station Wagon

Ford’s luxury 1966 Country Squire station wagon was the perfect example of a muscle car they disguised as a family long roof. To the average person, this car looked like a big old station wagon that could haul nine people, carry a lot of stuff and cruise the highways. But to experienced enthusiasts, just one glance under the hood could reveal the true nature of this car.

For 1966 and 1967, Ford offered the 428 V8 engine as an option on its station wagon model lineup. The 428 V8 in question was not the famed Cobra Jet, but the engine from the Thunderbird with 345 underrated horsepower. With over 460 lb-ft of torque, the Country Squire could go fast, despite the size and weight.

  1. Chevrolet Kingswood

To be honest, classic Chevrolet station wagon lineup was always complicated to figure out. You had different trim levels with different names, different body styles with different engines, and you couldn’t figure it out without the help of a brochure or a dealer. That is why there are several forgotten station wagons because people just couldn’t remember them all.

One of those models is the Kingswood. Sitting on the top of the wagon range, the Kingswood was produced in 1959 and 1960 and again from 1969 to 1972. Those models were always the most expensive and the biggest Chevrolet wagon offerings with powerful engines and a long list of creature comforts.

The most interesting is the late ’60s models which featured unbelievable specs. You could order the Kingswood with lush wood grain trim, chrome luggage carriers, heavy-duty components and with full big-block power. The 427 and 454 V8 powered wagons were almost as fast as muscle cars but could seat up to nine people.

  1. Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

From 1964 to 1977, the Vista Cruiser was Oldsmobile’s bestselling and most popular station wagon. It is also one of the models that perfectly describes suburban America in the ’60s and ’70s. The Vista Cruisers were all large, could seat up to nine people and powered by V8 engines. In the ’70s, they came with a long list of optional extras, wood grain trim and an interesting feature called the Clamshell tailgate.

The Clamshell tailgate was GM’s patent they used on all the big station wagons of the early ’70s including Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac and Oldsmobile. This was a power-operated system that could slide the tailgate into the trunk floor giving unrestricted access to the luggage compartment. Along with the powerful engines and cool styling, this was one of the most popular features of the Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser.

  1. Chevrolet Caprice Wagon

The popularity of the station wagon started to drop in the late ’70s, thanks to the economic recession and fuel crisis. Those big, thirsty long roofs weren’t rational transportation anymore, so the buyers turned to smaller cars and foreign models. However, one of the models which kept its fan base was the Caprice Wagon which was produced from 1977 to 1990 with minimal changes.

This was one of the last classic boxy American station wagons that featured room for nine passengers. It came with simple but durable mechanics and numerous extras. Despite the appearance of the minivan in the early ’80s and its rising popularity, better fuel efficiency, and lower price, the Caprice Wagon kept became one of the symbols of the `80s American suburbia lifestyle along with those Chrysler K-Cars and the Fox Mustang.

  1. Buick Roadmaster Wagon

The legendary Roadmaster name returned to the Buick lineup in 1991 after a 33-year hiatus, gracing the freshly styled luxurious sedan and station wagon models. The car was basically the same as other offerings from General Motors in the same class. However, the Roadmaster had more luxury options and one interesting engine that turned this comfy cruiser into a muscle car.

The Buick engineers found a way to install a Corvette LT1 5.7-liter V8 engine into a Roadmaster engine bay. The LT1 had 300 HP in the Corvette, and in the Buick, it had 260 HP. And that was more than enough to turn this heavy wagon into a proper hot rod. Despite the curb weight of over 4,400 pounds, this car could outrun most muscle cars of the day.

  1. Chevrolet Yeoman

The essence of Chevrolet was providing dependable, affordable cars for working people. Over the years, Chevy produced many bare-bones models as basic transportation for small business owners. And one of those models was the Yeoman. Quite rare and a one-year model only, the Yeoman was a baseline Chevrolet station wagon in a two and four-door version.

Basically, the Yeoman could get any Chevrolet engine as any other full-size model for 1958. But the base power came from a standard straight six with 3.9-liters of displacement. However, since the Yeoman was a base model, the equipment level was low.

For instance, it only had two tail lamps on the back. But the Bel Air had four and the Impala had six. And that is how you could distinguish them on the street.

  1. Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

For years, Cadillac was without the proper performance series they needed to compete with BMW and Mercedes. But finally, the V-Series was born. It was all that Cadillac lovers dreamed of with its powerful engines. It came with world-class handling and suspension setups, and exclusive production. Even the competitors took notice when Cadillac rolled up with the new V-Series models.

Arguably the most successful was the second-generation CTS-V model they produced between 2008 and 2014. Under the hood was a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with 556 HP making the CTS-V the most powerful performance sedan on the market. However, the wagon body style was something Cadillac buyers didn’t expect.

The car was still a blast to drive and extremely fast, it was just that most customers turned to sedans or coupes. Some buyers even weren’t aware that the wagon existed. That is why the CTS-V Wagon is a rare, forgotten model and a definitive future collectible.

  1. Plymouth Roadrunner Wagon

Plymouth never officially sold the Roadrunner Wagon but quite a few owners have converted their cars. They built the Roadrunner on the Belvedere platform, which meant that every panel fit. So, crafty muscle car fans took the ordinary Belvedere Wagon and put a Roadrunner front end on it.

Of course, the conversion wouldn’t be complete if the Wagon retained the Belvedere drivetrain. But when they installed the Roadrunner engine, suspension, and components, it created one of the fastest station wagons available. We even heard that people installed Hemi engines creating the speediest family cars in the world at the time.

  1. BMW M5 E61 Touring

This was not the first M5 station wagon and fans hope that it will not be the last. But it was the fastest, most glorious performance station wagon, despite the fact they made only 1,025 with production ending in 2010. BMW presented their E60 M5 with one of the best naturally aspirated engines they ever made. It was the high revving 5.0-liter V10 producing 507 HP from a BMW Formula One unit.

But to fight Audi’s fast wagons, BMW decided to make a Touring version of the M5 with a manual transmission. The manual BMW M5 station wagon delivers 507 HP with a six-speed manual, 4.5-second 0 to 60 mph time and a 205 mph top speed. No wonder even second-hand Tourings go for over $100,000.

  1. Mercedes AMG E 63 S Wagon

Audi’s decision to leave the RS6 Avant in Europe is a big opportunity for Mercedes in America. And since the E 63 S Wagon is available in the U.S. It is a glorious way to combine practicality with 603 HP from the fantastic 4.0-liter turbo engine. This is not the only performance wagon Mercedes offers, but it is the most powerful and fastest.

Although the E 63 S Wagon is all-wheel drive, drivers can disconnect the front driveshafts for a rear-wheel-drive-only experience. What this means in real life is that you can do smoky burnouts all day long. And that is exactly what this luxury station wagon is about. The AMG E 63 S Wagon is a crazy powerful muscle car they disguised as a luxury station wagon.

  1. Ferrari 456 GT Venice

Ferrari doesn’t make station wagons, right? Well, if you are a member of the Brunei Royal Family and have almost unlimited funds, they do. The 456 GT was Ferrari’s prime Gran Turismo model from 1992 to 2003, but only in a two-door coupe form. But, Prince Jeffry of Brunei wanted an elegant four-door station wagon version.

So, along with the design house Pininfarina, Ferrari provided seven examples for him. The drivetrain and the performance are the same as in standard models. The heart of the 456 GT Venice wagon is a 5.5-liter V12 engine with 442 HP. It can propel this elegant car from 0 to 60 in five seconds and top 180 mph.

  1. AMC Eagle Wagon

Conceived in the late ’70s, the Eagle was AMC’s answer to the rising popularity of AWD vehicles and SUVs, and AMC decided to combine their compact sedan and wagon lineup with tough and proven Jeep AWD system. The result was a surprisingly capable vehicle with the comfort and luxury of a sedan and compact dimensions. It came in a relatively low weight, with extremely good off-road characteristics.

The Eagle was one of the first, if not the first, crossover/all-wheel-drive station wagon model in the world. Only today do most people see how important and influential this car was. As expected, the Eagle was a relatively popular car, especially in areas with harsh climate and long winters. Unfortunately, AMC was losing money elsewhere. So, they went out of business in 1987, which meant death for the Eagle as well.

  1. Ford Flex

Even though the Flex didn’t sell as well as Ford hoped it would, it is still a great crossover-station wagon model. It features retro styling and an enormous interior space with nice features. They equipped it with powerful engines, and even an optional all-wheel-drive system.

Also, it has a recognizable boxy shape with loads of usable space. Buyers get a great options list and a two-tone exterior. For all the lovers of the station wagon form, this is one of the last true vehicles of this kind.

  1. Dodge Magnum R/T

Dodge never built a Charger station wagon or factory Charger convertible. This model was always a two or four-door car throughout its history. However, if you have an irresistible urge for a station wagon Charger, there is a way to enjoy the power of the Hemi engine with the practicality of a long roof body. Simply look for the Dodge Magnum R/T.

Equipped with a 6.1-liter V8 Hemi engine pumping out 425 HP and a glorious soundtrack through its twin tailpipes, the SRT-8 was a fast, capable long roof. The design is typical Dodge and since the rest of the mechanics are identical, think of this car like a station wagon Charger.

  1. Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake

Now, here is an interesting car. It is the Mercedes CLS, which is kind of a four-door coupe. But, in station wagon form, they call it a Shooting Brake. And that means it is a three-door coupe/wagon. If you’re feeling confused, you should be.

However, it is one of the most stylish wagons currently on sale and one of the most elegant ways to transport luggage and people in comfort. However, the concept is strange and the car is expensive. Also, it is not practical due to the small trunk area. So, the CLS Shooting Brake is a rare sight on the roads.

  1. Checker Aerobus

This list would not be complete without the crazy but practical Checker Aerobus. Do you remember the Checker company? It was a long-gone independent carmaker that produced the Marathon. And that was a car famous for being the quintessential New York taxi for decades.

However, from 1962 to 1972, Checker produced the Aerobus. It was a stretched Marathon wagon with six or eight doors and seating for up to 15 people. The idea behind the Aerobus was to provide transport to airline pilots and flight attendants. The airlines wanted their crew at the airport on time.

But when people used their own transportation, arriving on time proved to be difficult. That is why they constructed the Aerobus, so the driver could pick up the whole crew and took them to the airport on time. Today, the Aerobus is a rare but interesting piece of station wagon history.

  1. Chrysler 300C SRT Wagon

The Chrysler 300 C is one of the last true American, boxy-looking sedans with big V8 power and a chrome grille. But it is also a successful model that has been on the market for almost 15 years. During that time, Chrysler produced numerous variants and versions. However, one is especially interesting for this list, and that is the mighty SRT-8 Touring.

A competitor to the BMW M5 or Mercedes E-Class AMG, the 300C Touring was the performance station wagon version of the 300C sedan. Equipped with a 6.1-liter V8 Hemi engine pumping out 425 HP and a glorious soundtrack through twin tailpipes, the SRT-8 is a fast, capable long roof. A 0 to 60 mph sprint takes around 4.9 seconds and its top speed is over 170 mph.

  1. Jaguar XF S Sportbrake

Nobody expected a fast station wagon from Jaguar. After all, this is the company famous for its sports cars and performance sedans with a successful SUV model in the lineup. However, Jaguar managed to competently build an elegant long roof. And, it is a blast to drive thanks to 380 HP coming from the supercharged V8 engine.

But, the best thing about these cars is that it is available in America. As you know, not all performance station wagons are available in the USA, which is a shame.

  1. Alfa Romeo 156 GTA Sportwagon

Even though the gorgeous Alfa 156 wasn’t available in the USA, most wagon fans know about this fantastic retro-designed model. Alfa presented the GTA version featuring a high-revving 3.2-liter V6 producing 260 HP. And, they even offered it as a station wagon they called the Sportwagon.

They introduced the Sportwagon in 2001 and produced it until 2005. Alfa made just 1,678 of those highly collectible wagons. All 156 GTA Sportwagons have a unique exterior, full leather-trimmed interior, special wheels and race-tuned suspension with bigger brakes.

  1. Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Tourismo

The Panamera caused quite a lot of media attention when it first debuted as the first Porsche sedan. But soon, it proved that it is worth the name and Porsche fans grew to accept it for what it is. For its second generation, Porsche offered the Sport Turismo model, an elegant station wagon. It comes with just a slightly different rear end, which was just enough to be a wagon.

But this is not the end. Porsche also offers the Panamera Sport Turismo as the Turbo S. They equipped it with a hybrid drivetrain. With this wagon, Porsche combined practicality, advanced technology, old school power and luxury.

The combined output of gasoline and the electric engine is 680 HP going to all four wheels for the best traction. Despite weighing over two tons, this Panamera is capable of a mind-blowing 3.2 seconds 0 to 60 mph time. And that is faster than many current sports cars.


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