If you are old enough to join AARP then you probably remember a time when every family in the neighborhood that you grew up in had a station wagon. From the mid 1950’s to the early 1980’s the station wagon was the boxy version of the auto manufacturers standard sedan. Those wagons were the vehicles of choice for grocery getting moms, often became the neighborhood school shuttle, and were packed to capacity for the annual family vacation.
Manufacturing the station wagon during this time period was fairly straightforward. They were built on the same production lines that the hardtops, sedans, and convertibles were built on and annual production rates for most auto makers were in the ten’s of thousands for station wagons. In the final days of the wagon, most of them didn’t look too much different than their sedan counterparts.
This past week I had an opportunity to appraise a true station wagon. It was built back in a time when craftsman carpenters worked side by side with mechanical assemblers to build a work of art that most families back in the day could not afford. These cars (also called estate wagons) were usually purchased by the well to do and used as shuttles to the local train station for family and guests.
You really have to get close to a pre-1950’s station wagon to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into building one of these cars. Unlike steel bodied cars, the station wagon from the windshield back was built in hardwood and bolted down to the vehicles frame. The bodies of these cars were built with a level of precision and skill that most people just don’t have today. It is a lost art.
The vehicle pictured above is a 1933 Ford Model 40 Deluxe Station Wagon that still wears almost all of its original wood. The car was restored with most of its original parts in the late 1990’s. It’s powered by a 75hp, 221ci flathead V8 that is believed to be original as well. The stock interior has been reupholstered and the rest of the steelwork on the car has been refinished in its standard colors.
When this car was new it was the most expensive vehicle that Ford made. That is easy to understand given the assembly process it went through to make it. In todays world of cookie cutter SUV’s and cars that are robotically built, there is really no comparison. The real ‘soul’ here is not made by KIA.