(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Cruiser Station Wagon

IMG_3341What if I proposed to you that the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera was the most polarizing car of the last 40 years? I’m sure you’d point out there’s plenty of other cars that deserve a bigger medal in terms of era defining cars but I have some key arguments.

Some will say that it was the car that planted the seeds of death for the Oldsmobile brand. Others will tout their ability to abuse the basic sound design of them (of course, once those pesky GM bugs got worked out of the earliest editions) for more than 2 decades and multiple hundreds of thousands of miles worth of trips that could loop the globe. The true meaning of it, as a symbol, lies somewhere down the middle of course, and I try to rectify that while looking at this indeterminable of model year well-equipped Cruiser Wagon version.

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(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1977 Toyota Corona Station Wagon

IMG_2305In a number of ways Toyota was the most “American” of Japanese manufacturers. Once on their feet in the U.S. market in the early 70’s, they fielded a line up not dissimilar, albeit smaller and far more efficient, than Detroit rivals.

Mainstream models came in sizes small (Corolla), medium (Corona) and large (Crown/Cressida). There was a “pony” car (Celica) to boot. That’s no different than Ford in the 1960’s minus a halo coupe once you think about it.We’ve made friends with the 3rd Generation car. Today we see what the 5th generation had to offer when you opted for the wagon version.

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Dynamic Divergence: Back To School Essentials – 6 Rides That Where The Lead Of The Carpool

ff865f9002544b89d4a03df523a03cd5-stationwagon-seat-beltsWe’ve seen our nation wide open on the highways this summer. Now it’s time for us to head back to the realities of gaining more knowledge. It’s back to school season, and every big box parking lot is filled with the spoils of breeding the next generation of thinkers and doers…and spoiled brats and bullies too.

We’ve typically gone back to school in the back seats of nearly 80 years of family haulers as schools became anchors of suburban development, long out of the walking distance of the industrial revolution, yet closer in than one room school houses of America’s rural frontier myths. In terms of utility, intelligence and style, what were some of the premiere pods of the Carpool over the years?

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(Found In) Outer Richmond (San Francisco, California): 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Station Wagon

IMG_1435The Vista Cruiser is an interesting detour in the concept of the family hauler. General Motors always struggled a wee bit with the concept of the station wagon (and the minivan and SUV crazes that followed) compared to Ford and Chrysler.

While Ford had no problem not only selling plenty of Country Sedans and Country Squires, even their Ford wagons had a snob appeal that belied them sharing floor space with the most basic of Henry’s vehicular grandchildren.

GM tried low priced to luxury, 4 door hardtop and sporty station wagons with names like Fiesta and Nomad. Although those wagons have become collectors items in the current, they weren’t exactly prized in the past. Buick and Oldsmobile, in particular, passed the baton from their Full Sized wagons for a good half decade, relying on scenic-cruising bus inspired family haulers based on their intermediate platforms for that certain level of panache for suburban driveways. We celebrate an icon in the sunset of its years as the dog days of summer settle in.

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(Found In) Longfellow (Emeryville, California): 1968 AMC Rambler American 440 Station Wagon

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Always walking to the beat of a different drum, the heritage of AMC stretched back into two independents that had long done it their way. It’s by no chance that the first, least expensive option on offer in their showrooms nationwide relied on the manifest-destiny ringing “American” nameplate.

Back in the days of AMC being rooted in Nash, the Rambler concept was by far the most continually successful compact car concept, making sure to offer those a lot of comfort in their decreased footprint. Closing in on 20 years after the beginning of that risk, what did the littlest AMC product give you in 1968?

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(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1987 Ford Taurus GL Station Wagon

IMG_0412It was a revolution on wheels for the ordinary American Family Sedan. Even more so as a Station Wagon. Therein lies the miracle of the Original Ford Taurus. Long having played catch up to everyone else when it came to mainstream innovation, Ford fancied a future for mainstream buyers GM, Chrysler and a host of competitors couldn’t envision slipping into as tomorrow’s dream today.

The softening of the two and three traditional boxes that the average sedan and wagon came in softened a lot of buyer’s hearts. Far from the upright, puritan machines that had courted most American buyers since the Post-War. Stepping up to an international stage in design language, the Taurus showed that patrician pragmatic patriotic lines could only take the American car only so far into the future. Readying us for a slew of technology for the 21st Century, we have the re-imagined family truckster to look over 30 years after it flew into dealerships for its second season.

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(Found In) Mission District (San Francisco, California): 1972 Toyota Crown Mark II Station Wagon

IMG_8659Out of the Japanese brands that landed in the American Market during the 1950’s and 1960’s, Toyota learned the quickest how to adapt to the foreign to them trends that set the Jones’s hearts alight. One trend realized was the splintering of the American Market, as the generation of Boomers headed to dealerships, they weren’t happy with one-size fits all motoring in escalating finery that had dominated the automotive landscape from The Great Depression through the Fabulous Fifties.

Indeed, after landing a hit with the Corona during the 2nd half of the 1960’s, Toyota went above and below, bringing the baby bear Corolla and the Papa Bear Crown stateside. For those moving immediately out of their Coronas could find themselves in the Mama Bear Corona Mark II.

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(Found In) Rockridge (Oakland, California): 1968 Saab 95 Station Wagon

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In port cities there tends to be a wee bit more diversity in the classic cars one finds on the streets. Not everything slides into Camaro, Mustang and Cadillac territory. Liberal cities tend to have a bit of diversity in citizenry, and the heritage of such cultures might mean that there’ll be an eccentric offering showing a glimpse of history.

There’s this surprise of this Swedish Station Wagon that did more with far less than your average Country Squire that I found in the lush bushes of Rockridge recently. Stuffing plenty of capacity for buyers that might have a penchant for such a tiny meatball of a car was the calling card of this model for more than a decade.

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(Found In) Longfellow (Oakland, California): 1976 Mercury Marquis Colony Park Station Wagon

img_3055 Once upon a time in a world 40 years ago, the way to haul the herds through freshly minted suburbia wasn’t via sport utility vehicles, nor minivans. The new fangled concept of all things in one crossovers would have bewildered the average buyer in 1976. Only one thing got-er-done in Bi-Centennial ’76, and that was the wooly mammoth clad in wood known as the full sized Station Wagon.

FordMoCo long dominated the niche in sales performance, and to varying degrees, prestige. The Di-Noc slathered Country Squire was one of the first Ford products that didn’t mind its position as a member of one of the low priced three brands, being acceptable in Fields and at Country Clubs. How did the further upmarket Marquis Colony Park fare among the fancy precious cargo carriers?
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(Found In) Noe Valley (San Francisco, California): 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten Townsman 4 Door Station Wagon

image (16)Chevrolet may have dominated quite regularly when it came to sales for the majority of the immediate post war. One area the Chevrolet perpetually found themselves behind however, was in Wagon sales. Between advances and ability to exploit snob appeal, real wood or not, Ford sold more Ranch Wagons, Country Sedans and Squires to Chevrolets offerings quite regularly.

Behind slightly behind the curve at times with fresh offerings didn’t often help matters either.
Although much loved in retrospect, the 1957 Chevrolet line at the time rapidly ended up being old hat against The New Kind of 1957 Ford and The Star of The Forward Look ’57 Plymouth.

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