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Top 10 Most Underrated Glorious American Muscle Station Wagons

The once unloved station wagons have found a place in the hearts of millions of gearheads

Updated June 29, 2018

Staying out of sight might be the only trick the once despised station wagon needed to find its way back to the hearts of millions of auto fanatics. These machines could be spotted almost anywhere, and if you were around between the 1940s and 1990s, chances are you might have had the opportunity to ride in these trusted people movers.

After their transition in the 1950s from pricey wood-bodied frames to mass-produced steel, the station wagons became a force to reckon with in the American market. This trend kept on going into the ‘80s until the minivan debut came with a bang taking a huge chunk of the market share. By the time the ‘90s was clogging, the wagons thrill had far gone down the drain, but thanks to a handful of exceptional performance-oriented designs, the wagons are still making some headlines.

Back in the day when they had all the glory, you would come across luxurious, affordable wagons with personal favorites which showcased high-speed performance. Between the late 1950s to early 1970s ( the glorious era of station wagons), American gearheads couldn’t keep off talking about horsepower and performance, and Detroit made it their business to indulge them, regardless of the vehicle they were buying. Station wagons were designed to accommodate a good number of passengers together with their cargo, but there were several that could only plain haul. This led to us going back down memory lane unearthing 10 underratedAmerican wagons that featured more than just muscle car DNA up their sleeves.

10. 1955-1957 Chevrolet Nomad

During the mid-’50s, Chevy didn’t have much to gain from the Corvette. Just as the American car lovers were waiting for a solid product, Chevy decided to drop the Nomad, a two-door, loaded station wagon that had its inspiration drawn from the Motorama concept vehicle program by GM. The first two years saw the Nomad only offer the 265 cubic inch V8 that packed up to 180 horsepower straight out of the factory. This later changed in 1957 as the Nomad got upgraded to a 283 cubic inch V8. The not-so-common mechanical fuel injection setup could see it produce up to 283 horsepower.

9. 1964-1967 Pontiac Tempest

If big muscle cars are your type of thrill, then your records should read that the mighty GTO drew its inspiration from the Pontiac’s midsize Tempest. Even though the machine’s standard offering was an inline-six with 140 horsepower (different engines were also available), you could also go for the 326 cubic inch V8 which offered 285 horsepower. The GTO beat it by about 75 horses and with some slight tuning and an almost-similar resemblance to the Pontiac muscle car, the Tempest could do speed wonders.

8. 1966-1968 Ford Country Squire 428

The Ford Country Squire was a darling to many Americans in the late 1960s. The straight-six facilitated its 150 horsepower standard power but you also had the option of a 428 cubic inch (345 horsepower) if you were to order a full-size wagon which was a few adjustments away from fitting the “Cobra Jet” mill title joining the ranks of the Torino Cobra, Mustang Mach 1 among other Shelby Cobras that came later on.

7. 1966-1970 Dodge Coronet Wagon

Following the GTO’s trend, the Dodge Coronet Wagon drew its breath from the more laid back Coronet. And while the Charger wagon might have been difficult to come across, the Coronet was the next best thing offering 330 horsepower derived from its 383 cubic inch V8. It didn’t have the performance of the hot Charger but it had an A-pillar resemblance going forward, and with a large engine bay spacing, more than a handful of Coronet owners had them rendered into Charger clones.

6. 1968-1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

Many might be of the opinion that the second-generation Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser tops the wagon challenge. Apart from its stylish muscular looks and sleek plexiglass panels hovering above the second-row seats, the wagon only came in options of 455, 400 and 350 cubic inch mills (V8). If that’s not enough, you could get one that featured a floor-mounted four-speed Hurst shifter which made a clear distinction between a people-mover car and a muscle car. Oldsmobile also created two genuine 4-4-2 wagons which saw them make the legitimate history records of the muscle car.

5. 1969-1972 Chevrolet Kingswood Estate

The Kingswood Estate and Kingswood were the most glorified of Chevy’s full-size wagons. As was the custom with GM’s wagons, they came with a variety of V8 options. However, something outstanding about the Kingswood was that it could boast of the humongous 454 cubic inch mill packing up to 390 horsepower, recording a 9-second timing for a 0 to 60 mph sprint. Such a machine couldn’t stay long without attracting drag racers which led to a few of these wagons being rendered into “Draggin Wagons” seen on multiple occasions on the racing field in the ‘70s.

4. 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle SS Wagon

When the midsize SS wagons made their debut, the glorious days of the Chevelle SS Wagon had long been outlived. On record, a mighty 454 fitted to either a four-speed manual or a HydraMatic auto and a flexed up duty suspension is somewhat the perfect mix, but in practicality, the output wasn’t something to marvel about. During the 1970 era, the SS Wagons could deliver either 360 or 450 horsepower, and by 1973, the new emission controls saw the power restricted to 245 horsepower. Even so, this classic still deserves a spot in the garage.

3. 1994-1996 Buick Roadmaster Estate

Even with just a handful of followers, GM’s full-size vehicles (the Cadillac, Chevy Caprice, Olds Custom Cruiser, Buick Roadmaster and Fleetwood) are viewed to be in the “grandma ride” category. However, the bulbous, massive, wood-paneled Roadmaster Estate could offer the LT1 V8 as an option, which would also be found on legendary models like the Camaro and Chevy Corvette. Regardless of the size, these Buicks could surprise you when it came to speed.

2. 2006-2008 Dodge Magnum SRT8

Chrysler decided to grace the American market with the sleek Dodge Magnum at a time when it seemed like the station wagon was drawing its last breath. And even though some base cars would come featuring V6s, the SRT8 was still an incredible option to get. With its Hemi V8 (6.1-liter), the SRT8 could make a 0 to 60 sprint in just under 5.1 seconds.

1. 2011-2014 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon

By the time 2000 was winding up, Germans decided that they couldn’t get left behind when it came to station wagons, unraveling models like the Mercedes-AMG E55 wagon and Audi RS4. This meant that the Cadillac had a lot to live up to with its sports wagon -the CTS-V. However, the CTS-V wasn’t that practical, but it featured a V8 powered engine cranking up to 556 horsepower doing 0-60 mph in just 4 seconds. If we were to go one way between cargo space and performance in our wagons, performance would be the choice.

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Jesse Taylor
About Jesse Taylor

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