Why aren’t station wagons cool?

Posted on 05/01/12 13 Comments

This morning on the way to school my daughter asked me a pointed question: “Why aren’t station wagons cool?” It was a great question. “That isn’t true,” I replied. And with a few clicks of my smart phone I presented her with a picture of a 1955 Chevy Nomad, one of the coolest station wagons, like ever. (Admittedly it was only two doors and not exactly stock.)

She conceded that the Nomad I showed her looked cool (replete with shiny Crager mags). But she sensed that I was being evasive. Granted, there may be exceptions. But still, most station wagons are not cool. Why is that?

At that moment I saw a Cadillac CTS station wagon (oops, I mean “sport wagon”, a rare sighting in North America, to be sure, though rather more common in station/sport wagon friendly Europe). “That’s cool,” I said triumphantly, “And it’s a station wagon.”

She barely glanced at the Caddy. “No it isn’t.” she said with a withering sigh.

“Okay,” I said haughtily. “So you disagree with the majority of automotive journalists.”

Inexplicably, she didn’t care about her indefensible dissent from majority pundit opinion.

And I was left to ponder the unponderable: why aren’t station wagons more cool (in North America)?

As difficult as that question was, I must say it is a relief when compared to the doctrines of Trinity and incarnation.

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  • epicurus

    I think it’s because station wagons are the mini vans of the car world. And since for many people SUV’s are the thing to have, cars get kicked to the bottom rung. It’s what they represent – some kind of boring “I’m now a person who hauls kids around all day and whips their pooppy buts”. That’s the perception, I’m not saying it’s the reality. I have many friends with SUVS, and they have all conceded at one time or another, that a minivan would make much more sense, cheaper, better gas milage, you still sit up high (they seem to like that), and you can actually haul things (most suv’s are just basically a hatchback)- they never use the 4 wheel drive aspect, or go off roading – don’t want to scratch their 60 thousand dollar “investment.” So why don’t they get a van? The image. Their first reaction when I ask is revulsion, they don’t want the boring suburban parent image. Even when I politely point out that is in fact what they are, and that is what they want to be. SUV’s have been marketed for the last 20 years or so as cool and sporty and safer than cars (because they’re bigger). One friend even said that there is one van he would drive if forced to, because the backend looked a bit like an suv!

    • epicurus

      should be poopy butts, not buts.

      • epicurus

        good grief, and it should be wipes, their butts, not whips, that’s abuse!
        Wish their was an edit post function. Or maybe I should learn to pay attention.

        • randal

          Who am I to judge different parenting styles?

    • randal

      “So why don’t they get a van? The image.”

      When I was a kid we had a green 78′ Dodge panel van with a bubble window in the back … and a velvet cushion that fit in the window. Maybe if the Sienna, Quest and Odyssey got bubble windows they’d be cool. A flying unicorn painted on the side and Crager mags would help too.

      • epicurus

        I remember the term “boogie van” in the 70′s when they were cool . A cousin had one that was all done up. Lots of guys had them. I wonder how it all changed. Is it all the result of marketing to make them family oriented which now causing the revulsion of many people?

        • randal

          “Lots of guys had them.”

          And they all played “Chevy Van” by Sammy Johns in their 8 tracks.

          Speaking of the seventies, I wonder when singing in falsetto ala the Bee Gees stopped being cool (Prince being the exception).

  • Aaron

    I owned a Subaru Outback wagon…I wish to this day I never would have traded it in…

  • Walter

    My hobby is drag racing and wagons are considered very cool, at least when they are converted into race cars. Several of my friends now have or at one time did own a wagon race car. Commuting around town in one is a different story, though.

    • epicurus

      Walter, does the longer wheel base give better traction off the starting line, is that why station wagons are liked in drag racing?

      • Walter

        Actually it is the higher center of gravity (from the long steel roof) combined with a lot of vehicle overhang past the rear axle that makes for an incredible amount of weight transfer. This gives wagons a traction advantage with high horsepower engines and marginal track surfaces. The long wheelbase does help to improve stability at high speeds.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Question on a minor point: Are you sure that’s a ’55 and not a ’57?

    On your major point, nothing says “family” quite like station wagon, does it?

    • Walter

      It’s a ’57.