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  • Long roofs

    Driving to the rehab center that SWMBO is at for a little bit of time today, a really ratty late 90s Chevy wagon was going the other way. Got me thinking (usually not a good thing...) about station wagons. Now we probably all would be happy with a tri-5 Nomad or one of the other brands that had similar long roofs. And like my parents, they ordered a 55 Nomad as they decided that a vehicle that 2 young kids couldn't open the back door on when motoring down those new fangled throughways. However they ended up with a 4-door wagon, as the dealer never got the Nomad in before the Chevy coupe really needed to be replaced.

    Now I was only 1 year old at the time, so I really don't remember it too well, just sort of vague images of a really huge vehicle that hurt me twice. Once when the door slammed on my fingers, and once when I allegedly left a dent in the dash, with my forehead, which explains a lot! It evidently had the base v-8, a 265 with a 2-barrel, but it was still quite a step up from the stovebolt 6 in the old coupe. Dad only kept it about 3 years, as it just wasn't up to pulling a boat trailer and boat.

    So the next long roof was a 58 or 59 Mercury Ford (yeah, a Mercury...), with the biggest MEL v-8 of the day. And the heavy duty brakes. That was a land yacht! By 63 it was gone, replaced by another Mercury wagon with the biggest v-8 then available. This one lasted until 65 when he had engine trouble with it. Long story short that mom NEVER heard about was the engine trouble was that the radiator was pushed back to the engine! So enough of the long roofs for dad. Besides mom had a 63 Wagoneer and it was a real beast of a vehicle. Dad bought a new 65 Pontiac Catalina 4-door with everything needed to tow the boat, but not a wagon. So that's when we ditched wagons...

    But as I'm driving today and saw that old wagon, in my 4 month old Blazer, I realized that we really haven't come that far from the halcyon days of the long roofs. I started rethinking the issue and noticing that the bulk of the vehicles on the Northway were some sort of SUV. And my mind wandered back to the era of the mini van, something that I never owned. And I realized that they also fit in the mindset that was starting to get in my head.

    And that is that the station wagons never have really gone away, they just got redefined. Interesting... well I'm much better now!

  • #2
    My family also did the station wagon thing, but with Oldsmobile. Our last one was a '73 Vista Cruiser, which I wound up inheriting when Dad got a new car after all us kids were gone.

    Riding in the "way back" was a special treat !

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    • #3
      Okay so I've had my nap, and as Paul Harvey used to say, now for the rest of the story! Dad was an orthopedic surgeon and usually was at the hospital early every day. And to not disturb the rest of the family, he'd be up and gone before 6 a.m. He'd then stop at the Busy Bee restaurant in Pittsfield for breakfast and would meet up with other doctors, one in particular was Dr. Pecalla. And Dr. Pecalla liked his Cadillacs.

      And while neither were car guys like all of us, they still liked to have bragging rights about which car was faster. That early in the morning there was little traffic on North Street, the main drag thru the center of Pittsfield. So the final morning in the life of the 63 Mercury wagon started innocently enough, with the two of them side by side at one of the lights along North Street. Light turned green, both stomped on the accelerator pedal, but unfortunately for the big wagon, someone ran the red light for the cross street.

      And hence the radiator meeting with the engine. And a phone call to mom asking which color, blue or burgundy, she'd like. And why are you asking this? Because I had problems with the engine today was the response.

      We only found out about this years later when Dr. Pecalla told the story to my then fiancee during an exam, after she told him who was the lucky guy (me).

      Maggie and I can still get a chuckle out of the story, and we never told mom...

      So what crazy story does anyone else have, long roof oriented?

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      • #4
        Dad bought a '59 Chevy wagon. As usual, black, rubber mats on the floor, no radio, etc - a real stripper. And a 3 speed manual, on the column, of course. Somebody at the dealership screwed up and checked the wrong box for the engine option and it came thru with a 348. Dad drove like a grandma (the slow kind) but it was the first year my oldest brother had his license. Come October Dad thought he'd need snow tires and had a set installed. The first snowfall happened in (probably) December (typical for SE Michigan) and the damn car had no traction at all! So he took the car back to the tire store complaining that the snow tires were no good at all and they better give him something that works! The tire store guy came out and told Dad that the tires were BALD!!! My brother assured Dad that he knew nothing about it. Must be defective tires. Yeah, right.......
        Last edited by DanStokes; February 5, 2023, 08:45 PM.

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        • #5
          And yes, Dave - the station wagon keeps coming around in various configurations. As much as the manufacturers have tried to kill them off the reality is that it's such a useful appliance that folks keep buying some variation so they keep making them.

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          • #6
            I have trouble with tire wear on my wagon.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Monster View Post
              My family also did the station wagon thing, but with Oldsmobile. Our last one was a '73 Vista Cruiser, which I wound up inheriting when Dad got a new car after all us kids were gone.

              Riding in the "way back" was a special treat !

              My Dad did the Olds Rockets for quite a while...The first I recall was a was a 66 Vista Cruiser, Followed by a 68 or 69 Vista Cruiser with woodgrain, then a 72 Custom Cruiser with woodgrain, then when he found out that 76 would be the last of the 455s, bought a 76 which my mother drove until she bought a 85 custom cruiser(307 powered)​
              Patrick & Tammy
              - Long Haulin' 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014...Addicting isn't it...??

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              • #8


                Not a long roof, but a "455" story. My parents had a '72 Malibu with a SBC, when they got rid of their tiny little single axle camper trailer & bought a 21' Jayco tandem axle, the Malibu wasn't happy pulling it. So, my next oldest bro bought the Malibu, and my parents bought a '75 Pontiac Parisienne Brougham, 2 door, with a 455, it had the trailer package, which consisted of heavy duty cooling, rear air bags, and 3:73 gears. Well, the car didn't even know the trailer was there!! There was only 2 mpg difference between pulling the trailer or just driving the car! (so bad, and worse
                In the early eighties, one sunday my dad tells me he needs my pickup to do some stuff. I tell him " but we're going to the drags in Ft. St. John"....he says, so take the Pontiac!
                Well, we made it there and back in record time, but my punishment for the rapid pace we maintained was when I went to fuel it up before handing it back over. It's roughly 125 miles each way....so lets call it 250 round trip. When I fueled it up, it cost me $39.00 (mind you, these were 1986 dollars!!)

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                • #9
                  Growing up in the 80s Mom had a car, Dad drove a truck. Some time in the early 90's Mom got a dodge caravan. It was a good people mover. Great as a kid but didn't want to drive it as a teenager.

                  As an adult with two kids I wish we had a three row vehicle. It would be nice when we have company and what I ride together. JP gave up the suburban, I miss it. I would like to find a roadmaster wagon or something like that JP is not sold on the idea.

                  I almost bought a Chevy minivan (uplander) in December when the Cadillac got hit. To have as a spare car. But adding one to the fleet doesn't really make sense. I am still looking for the perfect car.
                  http://www.bangshift.com/forum/forum...-consolidation
                  1.54, 7.31 @ 94.14, 11.43 @ 118.95

                  PB 60' 1.49
                  ​​​​​​

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Russell View Post
                    Growing up in the 80s Mom had a car, Dad drove a truck. Some time in the early 90's Mom got a dodge caravan. It was a good people mover. Great as a kid but didn't want to drive it as a teenager.

                    As an adult with two kids I wish we had a three row vehicle. It would be nice when we have company and what I ride together. JP gave up the suburban, I miss it. I would like to find a roadmaster wagon or something like that JP is not sold on the idea.

                    I almost bought a Chevy minivan (uplander) in December when the Cadillac got hit. To have as a spare car. But adding one to the fleet doesn't really make sense. I am still looking for the perfect car.
                    Ain't no perfect car. Different cars for different purposes. Vanna the van for road trips, Stanger the Mustang convert for sunny days, Nellie the HHR for ME's DD, Truck the Dodge Diesel for trailer hauling, the MG for a project. Each has its place.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Russell View Post
                      Growing up in the 80s Mom had a car, Dad drove a truck. Some time in the early 90's Mom got a dodge caravan. It was a good people mover. Great as a kid but didn't want to drive it as a teenager.

                      As an adult with two kids I wish we had a three row vehicle. It would be nice when we have company and what I ride together. JP gave up the suburban, I miss it. I would like to find a roadmaster wagon or something like that JP is not sold on the idea.

                      I almost bought a Chevy minivan (uplander) in December when the Cadillac got hit. To have as a spare car. But adding one to the fleet doesn't really make sense. I am still looking for the perfect car.
                      I'm not sure why you wouldn't have all of the above.... and I'm also not sure what you're saying about those who do.
                      Doing it all wrong since 1966

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                      • #12
                        Suburban works for all of it! Just ask SBG
                        Patrick & Tammy
                        - Long Haulin' 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014...Addicting isn't it...??

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tubbed Pacecar View Post

                          Not a long roof, but a "455" story. My parents had a '72 Malibu with a SBC, when they got rid of their tiny little single axle camper trailer & bought a 21' Jayco tandem axle, the Malibu wasn't happy pulling it. So, my next oldest bro bought the Malibu, and my parents bought a '75 Pontiac Parisienne Brougham, 2 door, with a 455, it had the trailer package, which consisted of heavy duty cooling, rear air bags, and 3:73 gears. Well, the car didn't even know the trailer was there!! There was only 2 mpg difference between pulling the trailer or just driving the car! (so bad, and worse
                          In the early eighties, one sunday my dad tells me he needs my pickup to do some stuff. I tell him " but we're going to the drags in Ft. St. John"....he says, so take the Pontiac!
                          Well, we made it there and back in record time, but my punishment for the rapid pace we maintained was when I went to fuel it up before handing it back over. It's roughly 125 miles each way....so lets call it 250 round trip. When I fueled it up, it cost me $39.00 (mind you, these were 1986 dollars!!)
                          Most 455 owners will tell you they will pass everything except a gas station.........
                          Ed, Mary, & 'Earl'
                          HRPT LongHaulers, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.


                          Inside every old person is a young person wondering, "what the hell happened?"

                          The man at the top of the mountain didn't fall there. -Vince Lombardi

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                          • #14
                            Great! So to further the story on wagons we had, it's interesting how we got the 63 Jeep Wagoneer. Going back to when I was only 3 or 4 years old, my mom wanted a vehicle of her own. So dad bought a couple years old CJ3 high hood. It of course had a standard transmission. Mom could only drive a car with an automatic transmission. And in those days in Massachusetts you had to pass a driver test to operate a standard transmission vehicle. So up to this point, the only car she had driven on the highway was dad's first Mercury, also evidently the first time the family had a car with an automatic transmission.

                            Now it takes a little bit of practice to drive with a clutch for the first time, but mom and dad had that covered. We had lots of fields. Fields that the farmer up the street kept cut and baled, as he used the hay (timothy, he planted it specifically) for the farm. And it was haying time when the Jeep showed up. And hay bales. Good for setting up different combinations of obstacles to learn how to drive around and parallel park, and so forth...

                            So my mom, brother, and I would go out to the fields and she would practice. There's even a pretty good hill on the far side to practice hill starts. An aside here. There's also plenty of things to bounce over, and if a little brother is sitting in the back on those flat rear fenders, well the little brother just might end up sitting on the ground the next time they come back around. And I was none too happy about it either! But I digress...

                            After a couple of weeks to practice, dad calls a friend of his from town whom he had just happened to have known since kindergarten, and who was as it happened, was the top guy in the DMV office in the area. An appointment was made, and on the day, we caravaned to the DMV, mom driving the Mercury (remember it had the automatic), dad drove the Jeep. My brother and I rode down with mom. And when we got there, dad got in the Mercury and with me in tow, headed home. He was that confident. Well no drama, mom passed the test, she and my brother headed home and dad caught holy heck when she got home. Dad may have been 100 % Italian heritage, but mom is Scotts, and a Vermonter to boot.

                            Anyway now mom could drive any car regardless of the transmission. And did for decades up until she was 90 give or take. She even started one of the race cars once, as I had to drive the push truck. Another funny story, but not for here...

                            This was 57 or 58, like I said, I was 3 or 4 years old. So the years go by, the CJ3 is getting long in the tooth, and it was time to get her another car. And there was a bright red Wagoneer already in town, and mom loved the looks. Her sister's husband owned a Jeep dealership in Bennington, her home town and also where the CJ3 came from, and a deal was struck. A few weeks later she had the new Wagoneer, sohc inline 6 and all, 3 on the tree, 4 wheel drive, and that was it. No power steering, brakes, no radio, nothing extra. It was the car my brother got his license with, and he drove it into the early 70s thru his college years and into his starting his career in business management. That thing was unkillable, and he tried enough times.

                            Me, I took my driver test in a 442 Olds convertible with a police package. Another friend who was a DMV officer, and yes there really was a difference with the police package! Who would ever guess that GM had midsize police package vehicles?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by silver_bullet View Post
                              Suburban works for all of it! Just ask SBG
                              they are the "if you can only have one vehicle" vehicle because they can do it all... well, except change their fuel pump.
                              Doing it all wrong since 1966

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