IT’S FUNNY HOW fashions change. Once upon a time if you bought a station wagon you were admitting to one or more of a few things: 1. You were in a trade and could write it off against tax; 2. You owned a shop and needed to cart stuff, or; 3. You had at best a marginal understanding of the concept of birth control. A lot of people got a score of two out three.
Now during the 60s and 70s there were substantial numbers of these things sold, so what happened to them all? I have a theory. Once the original proud owner tired of it, it got passed along a succession of hands, almost inevitably ending up as the work truck for some poor and desperate apprentice, who filled it with paint tins and welding gear (or slabs and surfboards on the weekend) and ran the auld dear into the ground. It got worked to death and taken to the tip. Really, the survival rate is appalling.
I’m not entirely imagining this. There we were standing around at a Farewell Falcon event last year, when I got talking with a bloke who was admiring an old Squire wagon – you know, with the fake woody look. We agreed that they were now an endangered species and then he revealed that one of the jobs he had years ago was cutting them up for scrap, because no-one wanted old wagons. Unbelievable.
Actually it’s not. I had a 1966 Toyota Crown wagon years ago.
It was rust-free, dead reliable and, well, spectacularly slow.
Its progress was regal rather than measurable. The handling was dodgy as the probably underwhelming dampers had long given up on doing their job (I didn’t exactly shower it with maintenance...) and the brakes seemed mostly there to give you something to do on the way to the scene of the crash.
There were no rear seat belts and I was too cheap to fit them, so unsuspecting passengers usually had a look of wide-eyed trepidation as we careened around the landscape.
Of course now I can afford to do something about the brakes, the dampers and the seatbelts and would love to have it back.
But what did I do with it? Offloaded it the second I could buy a replacement. What a waste.
It would be great to have a big truckster in the driveway now, though I’m buggered if I know where it would go. The vehicle fleet at Chateau Despair is already at a stage where I have to step off the property to change my mind. Nevertheless the temptation is there.
Prices are definitely on the march and it’s clear people now value these things. Sometimes, like two of the owners in this edition of the mag, people are reliving a part of their childhood – buying back their history and sharing it with their parents. Good luck to them.
While I’d be pretty happy to have the Crown back, in truth my ultimate ambition would be a full-on American Gothic Griswald Pack – something big enough to have its own postcode. I figure if you’re going down this path, it might as well be the whole way...