They say that sometimes, you miss the forest for the trees. Well, Nice Price or Crack Pipe has a Ford wagon with a whole forest of phony trees on it, and it's pretty hard to miss.
Vehicles today are burdened with curto desparatus, potentially carrying such three letter acronyms as ABS, AWD, TCS, TPI, SST, XAV, and a favorite for many years- SUV. But back in the day, cars were a lot simpler, and the terms to describe their features were much more romantic and descriptive. One of those terms, which has long ago fallen from favor is that of station wagon. Named for the utilitarian conveyances employed by upscale resorts to whisk arriving and departing guests between the train depot and their bucolic retreats, they needed to be able to swallow both discriminating passengers, as well as their trunks full of natty travel wear.
Following WWII, and the expansion of unprecedented suburban growth in the U.S., the station wagon became the de facto suburban schooner, piloted by housewives (that's another term we don't us anymore) intent on shuttling kids to school, groceries to home, and themselves to the beauty salon for some much deserved R&R. Typically, the roof racked workhorses would also be pressed into service for that great American tradition, the family vacation, where road bingo and slug bug filled back seats, and ashes were tapped from pipes on sideview mirrors.
Led by the Ford Motor Company, wagons in the late fifties stopped being unsophisticated and merely utilitarian, and took on a pastiche of style and features they had been previously denied. By the time today's 1971 Country Squire with its new-that-year 400M motor, rolled onto the dealer lot, the station wagon reigned supreme as America's people mover.
But then something happened. Emissions controls tightened, OPEC's artificial production limits gave us both long gas lines and Frank Zappa's hilarious Sheik Yerbouti. By the mid-‘80s, wagons like our green on green candidate here were falling to a new paradigm envisioned by former Ford bigwig, Lee Iaccoca- the minivan.
The minivan's reign, following that of hair metal, fell in the ‘90s as the desirability of mass overcame cup holder quotients, and the SUV emerged as the new top dog of suburban tract transport. Once again, size seemed to matter, only these mostly truck-based vehicles expanded both longitudinally and vertically, concluding in Suburbans and Expeditions that dwarf our 8-passenger survivor from an earlier age.
Today, during another wave of gas price fluctuations, the SUVs are being replaced with tall car-based wagons that in someways harken back to the more civilized era of suburban wagons, martini-infused wife swap parties and the ice storm trysts of the upper middle class. This Magic Doorgate-equipped 8-passenger wagon should move smartly with its 351M-based 260-bhp (1972 horsepower dropped to 172!) 2V 400, and three-on-the-tree C6 transmission. Unlike its premium-chugging big brother - the 429 - this pushrod small block drinks two-buck chuck regular.
The seller claims it to be a two-owner, one-family car that has been garage kept and regularly maintained. Described as rust-free and relatively low-miles, with just an RCH over 100K on the clock, it's a rare survivor. Outside, the wagon sports metallic green paint with the desirable woodgrain plastic laminate and fiberglass border, all of which appears in excellent condition. Popping open any of the four generous doors reveals a vinyl-lover's wet dream in a verdant hue matching the exterior. Legroom is NBA league in both the front and second rows, and a CB radio hanging under the dash keeps you up to date on what Smokey and the Bandit are up to, good buddy.
At damn-near 5,000-lbs all up, it would probably win at any contest of road rage despite lacking many of the modern safety features that today keeps our communal gene pool diluted with ignoramuses. That weight, and ‘70s quality brakes, mean that stopping will require a bit more planning. Also, the design of the big Ford's recirculating ball steering was based loosely on the machinations of the Queen Mary's tiller, so don't plan on signing it up for the gymkhana.
The seller (who appears to be offering it up on Craigslist for the mechanic owner) says that the asking price is $6,000, but that is negotiable as an impending move is forcing a quick sale. Considering that they ain't making ‘em any more, and finding one in this nice of shape is getting more and more rare, how does that price look to you? Does six large for this Country Squire make you think wagons ho!? Or, does it make you say, wagons no?
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