Cars we remember: Station Wagon collector car query
Q: Hello Greg and I’m thinking of getting into the collector car hobby (I am in my late 50s) and have a few dollars saved for the purchase. Right now, I am being drawn to a station wagon as that’s what my parents always had when I was growing up in the Sixties.
I know you like station wagons, so how about a few tips for a person who wants to enjoy going to all the local car shows here in New York and Pennsylvania. Charles, Owego N.Y.
A: Charles, I’d be glad to help. First, you’re writing to the right person when it comes to station wagons as they are gaining in esteem each year. However, remember that a station wagon from the 1950s to the 1970s may never bring the dollars that a 426 Hemi muscle car will, but just might surprise many a hobbyist as to pricing. (OK, there were a few 426 Hemi Dodge Wagons in the mid-Sixties, but we’ll leave that for another column).
According to my information, station wagons have increased in price from 15 to 20-percent the last five years, with some models over 40-percent. Additionally, you don’t see many wagons crossing the Mecum or Barrett-Jackson auction blocks mainly because they are rarer and thus, the price appreciation.
Right now, there are many fine station wagons to choose from in the $10,000 or less category, both compact and full-size. Since you say you are new to the hobby, the first thing you want to do is get one of your lifelong trusted mechanics to help you choose the right wagon, as buying a collector car these days can be a complicated matter. So, this would be my very first recommendation to you.
If you can’t find a wagon close to home, the availability of wagons nationwide is decent, and you can check eBay Motors, Hemmings, Auto Roundup or other print and online sites to help you locate something you can afford. If you find a car in another state, there are mechanics in those states that will go and look at the car for you for a decent price, usually $100 or so for a complete look-over.
As for entry level wagons, AMC Hornets from 1970 through 1980 (when they were re-named Concords in 1978) are always out there and very affordable, as are the Chevy and Ford and MOPAR wagons from the 1970s. If you choose a wagon from the 1950s or 1960s, they are usually priced higher, and in some instances, like a 1958 or 1959 Edsel Villager, the wagons bring more than the cars do.
I always liked the Dodge wagons from the later 1950s, and those Chevy Brookwood/Parkwood/Kingswood wagons from 1958 to 1960. The choices are limitless, all depending on how much money you have available and what you desire. Also, wagons with real wood on the side, known as “Woodys” will cost substantially more, as will a 1955-57 Chevy Nomad or Pontiac Safari two door wagons.
I personally have a 1977 Ford Country Squire wagon, which was a popular wagon that decade. Also, don’t forget the Vista Roof Cruiser Oldsmobiles and Buicks (mid-size), or those huge Olds, Dodge, Mercury, Pontiac, Buick and Plymouth behemoths, too. On the compact side check out the Dodge Lancer and Plymouth Valiant that first appeared in 1960, or how about a 1961 Ford Falcon, 1962 Corvair or even a 1972 Vega Panel Wagon? Some of these cars come real cheap these days, especially the Vega and Corvair.
A final note is please do not rush in and buy the very first station wagon you find. Many a beginner hobbyist has made a quick decision only to find later on something that would have been a better match, overall, for their money spent. Also, if you are on limited funds, the wagons from the 1980s make some real nice vehicles, especially those large Buicks and Chevys with the V8 engines. I still see many on the road these days.
So, be it a 1960 Studebaker Lark or even a 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon, there are many station wagons out there to look at. Here’s wishing you good shopping on your quest to join the collector car hobby. Please let us know if you find one.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now, BestRide.com and other Gatehouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions on old cars, auto nostalgia and old-time motorsports at 116 Main St., Towanda, PA 18848 or at email@example.com.