Good news, ladies and gentlemen: Friday has arrived. The week is over, and it's now time to kick off your exciting weekend plans by falling asleep in front of the TV this evening around 9:30 p.m.
But first, it's time for Letters to Doug, your new favorite Jalopnik feature, wherein you send me the tough automotive questions and I ignore them all in order to put up one where the sender has a funny name.
Anyway: today's letter is about station wagons, and it comes to us from a reader in Connecticut named Colbert. Colbert writes:
Simple question for you - what is the reason for / cause of the obsession with wagons?
I come from a Jeep family and was born and raised with the belief that wagon's were reserved for people who hadn't yet upgraded to a minivans. A buddy of mine recently bought an 08' A4 wagon 6-speed and my natural reaction was to ask why he didn't opt for one with wood paneling to fulfill his station wagon fantasy. He got defensive but when pressed couldn't give me a solid reason why the wagon was better than an A4 sedan other than stammering out a 'wagon's are better you wouldn't understand'. More room for groceries? Won't get pulled over because cops assume your late to pick up your kids from lacrosse practice?
So what the deal with wagon's? Why are all these Jalops' obsessed with them? I might be missing something but I just don't get it....
First of all, Colbert, let me express my complete and utter lack of surprise that you live in Connecticut. I say this because Connecticut is the land of Audi A4 6-speed wagons; it's their home; it's like Connecticut's version of the Super Duty pickup. And by God, if your buddy's A4 wagon doesn't have lacrosse gear in it right now, then I don't know what to believe anymore.
Now, moving on to your question: I'd like to start by saying that you're a brave man for challenging the wagon establishment that exists here in the automotive enthusiast community. I say that because we car enthusiasts tend to love wagons; we adore wagons; we're obsessed with wagons. You get the feeling that if you asked our readers to choose between a belief in God and a belief in the station wagon, they would think for a second, and then say: "Does the wagon have a rear-facing third-row seat?"
So what's the reason for the obsession? Well, Colbert, you've come to the right person, because I've owned two very exciting wagons over the years: a 500-horsepower Mercedes E63 AMG, and a 550-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V. And I can tell you right now why I bought them: to get chicks.
Ha ha! I'm just kidding. Women hate wagons. I'm not sure why this is, but I believe it has to do with the fact that the parents of every single woman drove a wagon back in the day when filtered cigarettes were considered "a healthy way to smoke." So women don't want anything to do with wagons, and they don't want to be associated with wagons in any way, unless it involves laughing at them on the road. ("Look at that guy in a WAGON," women say, cackling with pure joy. "Now, pass me a filtered cigarette.")
No, the real reason I got my wagons is, first and foremost, because they were fun to drive. And I think this gets to the heart of why most enthusiasts like wagons: because they offer SUV cargo volume, and SUV seating capacity, and sometimes even SUV capabilities, except they have a center of gravity that falls within a major league baseball strike zone. Whereas, if you ask car enthusiasts, SUVs are tall, lumbering machines that tip over if you slam the doors too hard.
And the other benefit of wagons? They're rare. Car enthusiasts will swear up and down this isn't why they like wagons, but the truth is this: SUVs are everywhere, and wagons are nowhere, and car enthusiasts like the notoriety that comes with loving something unique. After all: any idiot can buy an SUV. There are dozens of SUVs on the market, at dozens of price points, from the highly expensive Range Rover on down to the Pontiac Torrent, which costs as much as a fluorescent lightbulb four-pack. Whereas there are only a few wagons, and that makes them cool, and unique, and special, because you have to actually go seek them out if you really want one.
And so, Colbert, to sum things up: wagons are cool and rare, while SUVs are boring and ubiquitous. Wagons are fast and fun, while SUVs are large and tippy. And according to car enthusiasts, this makes wagons waaay better than stupid, boring SUVs and the stupid, boring people who drive them.
Just don't tell anyone that the PT Cruiser is technically classified as a wagon.
Remember: you, too, can participate in Letters to Doug by sending me an e-mail at Letters2Doug@gmail.com, or by Tweeting me at @DougDeMuro. And don't worry: all names are changed for the sake of privacy, and also in case you ask an embarrassing question like "What is that clunking sound my 2001 Acura TL makes when it shifts gears?"
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.