Wagons are awesome. In fact, let's not call them wagons, because they're not covered contraptions to be pulled by oxen on the Oregon Trail - let's call them "Family Thrillsters". Here are the ten best examples you space-efficient lot found on eBay under a $10,000 budget. Why can't all cars make this much sense?
The Subaru Legacy is the closest the Japanese car manufacturer ever came to a luxury marque. With its leather interior (ooh) and amenities such as automatic dual-zone climate control and heated seats (ahh), it made life that much better when compared to the washing machine ride that you got in the WRX and STi. This wagon version just extends that experience to include a ton of cargo space, or of you're daring, a moving ball pit - y'know, for the kids.
(Suggested by Dusty Ventures)
Leave it to Dodge to make a family car that looks like a hearse, named after an oversized condom and/or large firearm. It's how you know that no matter the economic or political climate of the country, we will always have a healthy sense of humor. This Magnum R/T is actually quite functional, as it has a Hemi V8 engine attached to an all-wheel-drive system that probably gets the car moving at a decent pace when things get slippery. I just wish it had a manual transmission.
(Suggested by smalleyxb122)
The Opel Kadett got a rise in popularity after Top Gear's Africa Special featured a tough-but-sinkable Kadett named Oliver, a car presenter Richard Hammond actually bought and had shipped home after falling in love with it. You too, can have a heartwarming experience on the side of the road with an old German car (before they were German cars) that's a two-door wagon, the holy grail of platforms. It's essentially a tiny Chevy Nomad. It will always be cool, and the best thing is, you will always have the option of shoehorning a huge engine in it, because there's no better way to start the morning than to convert 13-inch tires into smoke.
This is the formula for a Japanese hot rod: Small car + small, highly-efficient engine = lots and lots of fun. This Datsun 510 "Bluebird" wagon is exactly what a cheap restomod should look like. It has all the amenities of a boy racer weekend project, with all the nostalgia of grandpa's weekly runaround, minus all the dents and wheel arch rust. It's the perfect daily driver if you want something off the beaten path, and it has personality for days. Get it before someone more sensible does and puts smaller wheels on it.
(Suggested by McSeanerson)
What can I say about the BMW E39 540i that hasn't been regurgitated in every online automotive venue already? Well, all the things that make the car great - the rigid chassis and responsive suspension and drivetrain - are present, with the addition of a hell of a lot of room for activities in the back. Give it some choice M5 goodies and it'll be one of the best looking, best sounding, and most affordable wagons ever made.
This Saab -5 wagon is a lot of car for the money. Silver is the best color for the Dame Edna 9-5s by far, and these really had the kinks ironed out (after a 12 year model run they should!) The chassis and suspension are tight and modern (if not state of the art), and the B235 really is a special motor, with torque all day and a great noise. Yes, it's an automatic, but frankly Saab manuals are gummy and notchy, and the ratios of the stalwart 5-speed Aisin Warner unit are better matched to the motor anyhow. Parts are plentiful if a little pricey, but you won't find more comfortable seats and a more airy, comfortable cabin in any new car. These are genuinely pleasurable to drive all day long, and in wagon form are probably the best car Saab did, GM or otherwise.
(Suggested by ColdSlaw)
This Chevrolet Caprice Wagon is exactly like the Buick Roadmaster, except without the mandatory denture cream and subscription to the Murder, She Wrote archives. It's a huge car with the engine from the Corvette of the day. This is a factory hot rod. Consider it the wagon version of a Hellcat, without the insane speed, but all of the attitude and twice the likelihood that you'll end up running over someone's mailbox. This one already has speed holes and five spoke alloys. What would you do with this modern day lead sled?
(Suggested by BigNSlow EH)
Here we have a Saab 9-3, made in the last days of the Swedish car manufacturer. It has a manual, 6-speed transission and turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. If older Saabs are any indicator, it can likely hold an astronomical amount of power without exploding, making it the perfect sleeper. For this amount of value, it's a surprise why the car manufacturer went under.
(Suggested by tehkav)
If " Why are there so many Saabs on the list?! Tavarish is a shill for Saab!" is what you're thinking right about now, you're forgetting a few key things: Saab doesn't exist anymore, you forgot to take your meds this morning, and this 9-2X is actually a Subaru WRX. Yes, from its boxer engine to its rally-tuned suspension and symmetrical AWD system, you can make this wagon into an STi clone with very little effort, and a considerable amount of cash. Is it worth it? Does a boxer by any other name sound as sweet?
(Suggested by Delusion77)
What's better than an E30 wagon? One that forces you to go through a drive-through backwards. Yes, this one is Right Hand Drive, and legal in the United States for some reason. Don't question it. It's the best of JDM and Euro culture rolled into one. Now comes the expensive part - fitting in an E60 M5 drivetrain. It should all fit, right? Right?
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.