A look at the hardtop station wagon

1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta Station Wagon redREVISED 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.

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1957 Mercury Commuter Station Wagon
1964 Dodge Custom 880 Station Wagon
1957 Mercury station wagon
1962 Chrysler New Yorker Station Wagon
1957 Buick Caballero Station Wagon
1961 Chrysler New Yorker Town & Country
1960 Chrysler Windsor Town & Country
1957 Mercury Voyager four door
1957 Mercury Commuter Station Wagon with skirts
1958 Mercury Commuter four door station wagons
1960 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon Tuxedo Black
1957 Oldsmobile 88 Fiesta dash
1960 Rambler Ambassador Station Wagon RF
1961 Chrysler New Yorker Town and Country Station Wagon
1959 Mercury Commuter Country Cruiser Station Wagon
Jack Tokie 1957 Oldsmobile Fiesta Station Wagon
1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta Station Wagon
1959 Mercury Country Cruiser
1959 Mercury Commuter Station Wagon
1956 Rambler Cross Country Station Wagon card
1962 Chrysler New Yorker Town & Country RR
1959 Mercury Colony Park red dockside
1957 Oldsmobile 88 Fiesta wagon with four models
Frank and Elaine Wrenick 1958 AMC Ambassador Station Wagon
1958 Mercury Commuter station wagons
Richard Saute 1959 Mercury Colony Park left front
1957 Mercury Commuter Station Wagon WPC pink
1958 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 Fiesta Station Wagon
1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta red ad
1960 Mercury Commuter Country Cruiser
1957 Buick Century Caballero Station Wagon ad
1958 Buick Riviera 49 station wagon
1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta Station Wagon red
Richard R. Saute 1959 Mercury Colony Park wagon
1960 Rambler Ambassador Wagon with model
1960 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon blue right rear
1958 Buick Caballero interior
Frank and Elaine Wrenick 1958 AMC Ambassador Station Wagon left

1957 Mercury Commuter Station Wagon

1964 Dodge Custom 880 Station Wagon

1957 Mercury station wagon

1962 Chrysler New Yorker Station Wagon

1957 Buick Caballero Station Wagon

1961 Chrysler New Yorker Town & Country

1960 Chrysler Windsor Town & Country

1957 Mercury Voyager four door

1957 Mercury Commuter Station Wagon with skirts

1958 Mercury Commuter four door station wagons

1960 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon Tuxedo Black

1957 Oldsmobile 88 Fiesta dash

1960 Rambler Ambassador Station Wagon RF

1961 Chrysler New Yorker Town and Country Station Wagon

1959 Mercury Commuter Country Cruiser Station Wagon

Jack Tokie 1957 Oldsmobile Fiesta Station Wagon

1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta Station Wagon

1959 Mercury Country Cruiser

1959 Mercury Commuter Station Wagon

1956 Rambler Cross Country Station Wagon card

1962 Chrysler New Yorker Town & Country RR

1959 Mercury Colony Park red dockside

1957 Oldsmobile 88 Fiesta wagon with four models

Frank and Elaine Wrenick 1958 AMC Ambassador Station Wagon

1958 Mercury Commuter station wagons

Richard Saute 1959 Mercury Colony Park left front

1957 Mercury Commuter Station Wagon WPC pink

1958 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 Fiesta Station Wagon

1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta red ad

1960 Mercury Commuter Country Cruiser

1957 Buick Century Caballero Station Wagon ad

1958 Buick Riviera 49 station wagon

1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta Station Wagon red

Richard R. Saute 1959 Mercury Colony Park wagon

1960 Rambler Ambassador Wagon with model

1960 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon blue right rear

1958 Buick Caballero interior

Frank and Elaine Wrenick 1958 AMC Ambassador Station Wagon left

 

 

9 thoughts on “A look at the hardtop station wagon

  1. Man, do those long roofs melt my butter. They were the original SUV’s. If you saunter over to the Performance Years message board, there are some threads about the ’66 Bonneville Hurst Wagon (!) which is a wild automobile. Does not have buckets or console, but does have dozens and dozens of other options.

    The ’57 Merc Villiager is the bomb, and do I ever wish Chrysler had done the ’60-61 New Yorker as a 2-door station wagon, image a 300-F or -G shooting break.

    Thanks for the trip down the time tunnel!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, guys. I added a few interior shots. The cabins in these wagons were pretty spectacular.

  3. Be still my heart! These wagons on BEAUTIFUL. Have always loved Wagons and Red Pick Up Trucks. Awesome pictures.

  4. Love the Olds and Buick wagons! Can’t decide which I like the best. The Mercurys are neat, too, but suffered with the front end styling as a warmed over Ford.

  5. Great coverage of hardtop station wagons. However, as a ’56 Chevrolet Nomad owner I wonder why they weren’t included.

  6. I thought of that too, especially when MGC mentioned that there were no Pontiac variants. Then I realized that the Nomad/Safari didn’t count because he specified “hardtop wagons”. All of the examples I saw had four doors. I noticed that some two door Mercury wagons have snuck in but I think that was in response to a comment.

    Nomads are very nice, but I think the four door versions are even more striking because the expanse of glass and steel makes them look as big as locomotives.

    It that red/white oval dash from a Mercury? I would love to look at that every day! I’m a sucker for tri-tone interiors dripping with chrome.

  7. When I wrote this piece back in 2012, I didn’t consider the Nomad and Safari because they have a heavy, fixed B pillar. However, these bodies are hardtops in the sense that they have no fixed doorglass frame. If I wrote this story again, who knows, maybe I would include them.

  8. Wonderful piece. Chrysler kept the hardtop wagon through ’64 – I believe they were the last to do so, along with the sister Dodge Custom 880.

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