REVISED AND UPDATED — Presenting an unusual but compelling body style offered by the Motor City from roughly 1956 to 1964: the pillarless hardtop station wagon. Let’s take a closer look.
These days, we tend to think of station wagons (when we think of them at all) as plain, utilitarian vehicles that dwell somewhere between sedans and trucks. It’s the market segment where automotive fantasies give up, get married, and go to die.
But in booming suburbia in the fabulous ’50s, that wasn’t the case at all. In that tableau, a premium-brand, luxury-equipped station wagon was the top of the heap in country-club style. Accordingly, Detroit offered station wagons with every conceivable convenience and appearance option, including leather upholstery, bucket seats, large-displacement, multiple-carb V8s—and sleek pillarless hardtop body styles, just like their sedan counterparts.
Not surprisingly, when you see these luxury hardtop wagons today—enormous, over the top in styling and equipment, and now, exceedingly rare—at collector car shows, they make quite an impression. When you have the opportunity, be sure to check out these awesome machines.
We’re no experts on hardtop wagons, but it appears that little American Motors was first out of the gate with a pillarless model in 1956. Olds and Buick followed in 1957, staying in the game for only two years with very memorable models. Mercury and Chrysler Corporation offered them into the 1960s, Mercury with both two and four-door versions.
However, Pontiac and Edsel never offered hardtop wagons, apparently, even though they would seem to be naturals for the genre. Now, if we have any of these facts wrong, we welcome correction from you wagon masters out there. Sharpshoot us, please. In the meantime, below is a photo gallery from the brief time when station wagons had sizzle.