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The Studebaker Wagonaire And GMC Envoy Offer Sliding Roof Fun

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Choices in the "vehicle with a sliding roof over the cargo area" category are pretty limited. There are only two cars in history to offer such a feature – the Studebaker Wagonaire and the GMC Envoy XUV, but both can be had on eBay for under $14,000.

The Studebaker debuted in 1963 as the South Bend, Ind. company was in its dying days. Basically an unremarkable Lark station wagon underneath, it was completely modified from the belt-line up to accommodate a new glass area and a manually retractable roof that would open the cargo area to allow tall items – grandfather clocks and refrigerators, presumably – to sit upright. This being the days before mandatory seatbelts, you could also probably get away with making kids stand up straight for the ride to school, rather than sitting them down, making this the ideal carpooling car. That is, if carpooling was a thing in the sixties.


But few people wanted a wagon that could double as a clock-moving service vehicle and the Wagonaire's sales were slow. The person listing this particular Wagonaire, painted a period shade of brown with an equally brown interior, says it's one of 564 produced. That combined with the fact it's covered less than 6,000 miles since 1965 means the starting bid on the auction is $12,995.


For a $1,000 more, you can buy the Wagonaire's spiritual successor. Forty years after Studebaker brought the sliding roof wagon concept to fruition, GM thought it was a good idea to revive it with the GMC Envoy XUV. The two are similar in that they have two rows of seats and rear wheel drive. But the Envoy is a mashup of the entire GM Truck parts bin.

Up front is a 5.3-liter V8 instead of the straight-six in the Wagonaire. And the sliding roof over the decently sized cargo bay is powered, not crank-operated like in the older car. The Envoy also benefitted from a tailgate that opened either from the side or dropped down. This 86,000-mile 2004 example at a Cathedral City, Calif. dealer even has leather seats and satellite navigation.

The Studebaker has one big advantage over the GMC. When your neighbors see it in your garage, they'll go, "Wow, what a cool old car." When they see the XUV, they won't say anything, but they'll think, "My God, what a big, ugly thing." That's one reason the XUV was canned by the General after just two model years.


Between the two cars, the Studebaker is the obvious winner, being cheaper and better-looking than the GMC. But if you think you need to buy a car that can accommodate a refrigerator in the upright position, think again and just rent a U-Haul.

Image credit eBay