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Unhinged: The “Brown Manual Diesel Station Wagon” Thing Needs To Die

Unhinged: The “Brown Manual Diesel Station Wagon” Thing Needs To Die

Certain automotive sites and forums go into full-on “fanboy” mode when it comes to the idea of having a station wagon, with a diesel power plant and a manual transmission, in brown. And for the love of everything I will never, ever understand the appeal. “The brown, rear-wheel drive diesel manual transmission wagon could be considered the holy grail…” Why? Why is this the freaking holy grail? How did this come to be?

ford wagon

Let’s take a look at everything individually first. The station wagon was long considered the de facto family car. It hauled people, cargo, and that was it. It wasn’t supposed to be all that exciting, it was meant to work. After struggling throughout the 1980s, the station wagon all but went extinct in the mid-1990s, with only a small handful being sold. Blame the minivans and sport-utility vehicles for their demise. Sure, there was a time period where they were to be avoided like the plague due to their reputation, but if you parked a Vista Cruiser next to a new Explorer, you can see the appeal of the station wagon…I hope.

pistol grip

Manual transmissions have been dying out for years and are now to the point where asking for one is a luxury in America. Elsewhere in the world you can locate a manual transmission in nearly any vehicle. Enthusiasts, however, love ripping gears, so this is a good sign.

rolling coal idiot

Diesel power is a weird subject for the world. Generally speaking, diesel has been accepted into cars worldwide, and in the last ten to fifteen years, advancements in technology have made enough progress that we now have such a thing as a clean diesel. In small applications diesel rewards with good fuel economy. In larger applications a diesel’s natural ability to make torque is the benefit. In America, there is a stigma against diesel cars and that’s almost entirely due to General Motors and the diesel Oldsmobiles. But look around pretty much anywhere anymore and you’re sure to spot a modified diesel pickup. There’s good and bad here.

audi r8

And finally, the color brown. There are shades of brown that can look good. Holley’s “Project Longroof” Chevelle wagon immediately comes to mind, with it’s metallic brown paint job that has a cool metallic blend. Brown can look bad, especially if it’s more orange or worse, turd brown, but if done right, a good metallic brown color can really pop and surprise. Look at that Audi R8…I love that color!

So all four, individually, have their merits. So why is it that when you put the four ingredients into a blender that the final product evolves into an automotive hipster’s wet dream? Is it the idea that they liked it before it was cool? Or because all four elements combined were so uncool that it’s now cool? Could it be a middle finger to whatever is considered an “American” view on car enthusiasm?

Whatever the case, it’s coming across like a hipster in black-frame glasses, sipping a smoothie that is 80% kale and 20% “stuff you haven’t heard of”. It’s not that the car itself is worthy or not…honestly, it sounds like a great alternative to a sport-utility vehicle and has potential…but just like a Prius owner, it’s the cult mentality of the fan base that is annoying. The brown, manual, diesel station wagon is either your dream, or you aren’t progressive enough, or are lost in the past, or whatever else exists as a reason.

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18 thoughts on “Unhinged: The “Brown Manual Diesel Station Wagon” Thing Needs To Die

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    Yes – but brown cars can save you money!

    Here in the UK brown classic cars can fetch hundreds to even thousands of pounds less than other colours.

    So that means you have saved enough money from your original budget to pay for a respray in the colour of your choice.

    Unless you like driving in a mobile turd!

  2. mooseface

    Been hanging around Jalopnik, Bryan? When they see this, the pitchforks and torches are coming out.

    That notwithstanding, I fully agree with you. A diesel waggy with a stick is as a appealing as it gets, especially with the IP cranked a bit and a big heavy clutch for better access to bottom-end torque. Brown? No thanks.

    Personally, it’s all about a diesel compact truck with a manual in a nice dark forest green. That’s the magical combination to me.

    1. ColoradoKid

      Yeah I agree . Jalopnik will hate this post …. but its a post that needs to be written ! I\’ve about had my fill with the fanboy bull**** about how much everyone wants a wagon

      [ try posting this on autoline.tv and watch a character calling himself Kit Gerhart come out swinging in defense of the god almighty wagon … that nobody in reality wants ]

      So a huge TWO THUMBs up to Bryan for having the cojones to post this .

      So here\’s the real scoop when it comes to wagons . First …. look at what they WERE and what it WAS that made them popular … before that is the stylists took over in the late 50s . Practical , roomy , tall [ for easy ingress /egress ] comfortable , zero blind spots , tons of storage room behind the seats etc . e.g. Function over Fashion

      Then look what they became . Flatter .. wider … lower … less interior room [ despite larger footprints ] more blind spots , less practical and the pretense of being somehow … sporty . e,g, Fashion over Function

      Then … have a good hard look at what replaced them . SUV/CUVs . Look again at what wagons were …. and what they became … and have another look at their replacements … and tell me todays CUV/SUVs arent the original wagons of old come back to roost !

      As to brown ? Ehh … a personal choice I guess . Not one I would make … but …. As to everyone [ not buying cars ] addictions to Diesel ? Yeah … spend about a week in the south of France .. especially Monaco and Nice …. then tell me how wonderful the effing world would be if we all switched to Diesel …. cough …. hack …. akkkkkk

      Now about that 240 ? Hmmmmn .. a likely candidate for an engine swap and a suspension upgrade … not to mention a paint job ifn you ask me

  3. Matt Cramer

    A brown diesel station wagon only appeals to me if that diesel is a Cummins B6T running an ungodly amount of boost. In that case, the brown serves as camouflage. If I did that, I might need to figure out some beverage I can disguise as a kale smoothie – I don’t think I can avoid wincing if I actually took a sip of extra strength cabbage. Who’d expect an annoying hipstermobile to be fast?

  4. Nick D.

    I didn’t even realize this was a thing. Guess I haven’t spent enough time on the internet.

    1. ColoradoKid

      Jalopnik , TTAC , Autoline.tv you name it . If theres a forum or commenting attached …. guaranteed theres a cadre of supporters crying out for more wagons in the US … as well as the Suburban Urban Hipster Revisionist History wanna be crowd [ Petrolicious etc ] lauding the laurels of the classic wagon . Not that hardly any of them actually own , ever have or ever will own a wagon mind you . They just want them available . Go figure !

      As far as you not spending enough time on the internet ?

      Good for you . ! 95% of it is a load of crap …. Shame on me for not doing the same …. damn semi retirement boredom !!!!!!

      1. Nick D.

        Yeah, Speedhunters and Bangshift (and sort of Tumblr) are the only car sites (and sites in general) that I frequent.


    Well, I like brown and I like wagons…one of myfavorite cars ever was a 76 LTD wagone witha BB ford beautiful root beer brown paint…I wold drive the ever loving shit out of a diesel powered, manual shifted turb brown stationwagon. Maybe because it is ironic or…maybe because I like it…but likely a little of both.

    I would much rather a gas powered manual wagon…but, honestly a Benz wagon in light brown with a vegetable oil swilling turbo diesel would make me smile….

    I’m weird like that.

    1. ColoradoKid

      A classic W123 [ or earlier ] Mercedes Diesel wagon … in metallic brown … the ONE brown diesel powered wagon worth having … that funnily enough … the Suburban Urban Hipsters do not . Especially the 4matic version . Oh well … more for us 😉

  6. BeaverMartin

    I love wagons, manuals, and diesels. The color really doesn’t matter to me. IMHO the Buick Roadmaster Estate I used to have was the perfect wagon. Good power, the woodgrain was classy, and the ride/interior was more comfy than a lazy boy. A tuned oil burner would have sweetened the deal. As for the trans there is a perverse pleasure in rowing the gears on a behemoth, but you would loose some comfort. As far as hipsters, I’m too old/broke to care about being cool to anyone but myself.

  7. anthony

    Dweebs. They think its cool in a fashonable way. It isnt, dorks. 65 Chevy wagon is cool 82 Volvo diesel is not.

  8. jerry z

    Why hang around Jalopnik to begin with? I do like that Volvo wagon though especially with an LS1/6 SPD!

  9. Joe Fabeets

    Those enthusiasts don’t literally want a brown, manual, diesel station wagon. The “BMSDW” usually brought up to extinguish the circlejerk when a commenting thread gets all worked up into a lather over something that the market really can’t support anymore because, outside of internet websites, no one really wants anymore (Manuals in full size pickups, fullsize body on frame cars, small compact pickups, etc)

  10. evil16v

    Mctaggart…. i think it is fair to say they will crush their brown wagons when you crush your god awful mid eighties mopar junk. See my point? to each their own. they have their right and you have yours. leave it that way.

  11. C.M.Bendig

    If I put a Duramax in an old Caprice Estate wagon that had a olds 350 diesel… does that make me a hipster?

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