Remembering the Big Family Cars That Ruled Before the SUV: 10 Powerful and Affordable American Station Wagons From the 1960s

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Long-roof models came in all shapes and sizes, from utilitarian to family-friendly. The segment became even more diverse as European and Japanese companies bounded into the American market, but it began declining when the minivan rose to prominence in the 1980s. Today, the SUV has all but buried both body styles.

Some predict a full-blown wagon renaissance is around the corner as buyers begin growing weary of SUVs. It would open a new chapter in the history of the wagon. Until that happens, here are some of the models have been made during the sixties that have left their mark on the wagon segment in America.

1. Chrysler New Yorker (1962)

First introduced in 1939, New Yorker was the longest running American nameplate upon its discontinuation in 1996. Sixth generation New Yorker, between 1960 and 1964 was only offered with the 413ci RB V8 displacing 6.8 liters, and producing 340 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque in a single 4-barrel carb setup. According to Hagerty, their average price today is around $6,600.

2. Buick Estate (1970)

Unlike most of nameplates out there, Buick Estate was envisioned as a station wagon from the get-go. And it remained a wagon throughout its long and storied career. 1970 B-body Buick Estate with 370 ponies prancing out of 455ci V8 won’t cost you more than $7,500 on average. Not bad for top level luxury Buick wagon coated in wood grain. Moreover, it’s the youngest car on the list – three or so years shy of its golden anniversary.

3. Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser (1969)

Like the Buick Estate, Olds Vista Cruiser too was exclusively offered as a station wagon. Unlike the plushy Buick, however, more affordable Olds only survived for three generations. 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser belongs to the second. It had the fixed-glass, roof-mounted skylights and raised roofline over the second row of seats, just like the first gen models, while sharing Rocket V8 engines with the third gen cars. Speaking of engines, there were the 350, 400 and 455 cubic inch variants, and the mid offering with 325 horsepower should cost around $8,200 on average. In fact, 400ci V8 was only optional for ’68 and ’69. It was replaced by the 455ci in 1970, while smallest of the lot served as Vista Cruiser’s standard engine.

4. Chrysler Town & Country (1969)

Chrysler Town & Country has been a soccer mom minivan for more than quarter of a century now, but that wasn’t always the case. Prior to its transformation into utility vehicle, Town & Country was a car – mostly wagon. 1969 Town & Country was a C-body front engine – rear-wheel drive wagon-exclusive offering. One with the optional 440ci V8 developing 350 horsepower will likely cost you around $8,300 today. If you’re prepared to adopt a gas-guzzler that doesn’t return more than 10 mpg, that is.

5. Pontiac Bonneville (1964)

Third gen Bonneville was just finishing up its run in 1964 when Turbo Hydra-Matic trans was introduced to the line. That’s why you’ll be able to find the ’64 Bonnevilles with both the 3 or 4-speed transmissions. The engine choices, however, were the Bonneville’s strong points. 389, 400 and 421 cubic inch V8’s could have been ordered with 4-barrel or Tri Power (three two-barrel) carbs on the side. Basic 421ci Bonneville with 4-barrel carburetor making 350 horsepower should cost around $8,500 on average according to Hagerty.

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