At The Auction: Two Full-Sized Woody Wagons

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On the heels of our last wagon post featuring a Plymouth Volare Premier comes another installment from November’s McCormick’s Palm Springs Classic Car Auction, this time featuring two late-generation wood-sided full-sized station wagons, a Ford LTD Country Squire LX and an Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser. Let’s take a look at those acres of fake wood.


If you wanted a full-sized woody wagon around the time this 1990 Ford LTD Country Squire LX was made, you had two company’s inventories to peruse – Ford and GM, because Chrysler had long gotten out of the game. Model year 1978 was Chrysler’s last Town and Country on the pre-downsized C-Body platform, and Chrysler didn’t follow Ford or GM into emulating their smaller and boxier designs.


These wagons were still plenty big, though. This Ford rides on the long-lasting Panther platform, which in 1990 was just getting its legs as the Crown Victoria that spawned all the rounded cabs and cop cars we all know. Even more amazing in hindsight is that the blocky Country Squire survived until 1991, even after the slippery Taurus wagon debuted for the 1986 model year. An aerodynamic corporate image is one thing, but a blocky old and profitable car whose tooling is paid for is quite another.

taurus_wagon_1986By 1990, the Country Squire was something upscale older buyers had become comfortable with and were willing to pay more for. The leather seats illustrate that point.


This is a nice example, with intact front seat leather coverings, which usually become dried and worn.


The side panels gave the basic identification, with the trademark Ford lighter-wood frames…


…while the tailgate indicates this is the upper-packaged LX. The frames show their usual degradation, but they’re still not bad for a 25-year-old wagon.


From the auction results, we see that it sold for just less than $4K. Not a bad price for a presentable wagon with less than 80K miles.


Then outside the auction, we came upon a similar-vintage full-sizer from Oldsmobile, the deliciously named Custom Cruiser.


Always loved the Olds wires with the fat chrome center.


Carpeted walls never go out of style.


GM wagons were a smidge less blocky than the Fords, with a rounded shoulder off the beltline.


Whereas Ford employed thick wood frames, Olds simply covered the sheetmetal with vinyl wood and accented it with a thin shiny accent.


The Custom Cruiser was cleaner that the Country Squire and a bit more scattershot in execution. Those shiny accents line up with the tops of the tailights in theory, but not in reality.


It seems absurd that a default purchase for US families was once a large V8-powered wagon with sheets of imitation wood stretched across it. It’ll never happen again, and so these clear markers of an earlier era become even more interesting. We’ll keep shooting them as we see them.



  1. I was looking at the pix and reading your write up on the Ford Country Squire and the Olds Custom Cruiser wagons, and I noticed my MA license plates. The Olds wagon you took pictures of, is my car which is currently seating in my garage. It shocked me a bit that I found picture of my wagon on your website. I wasn’t excepting that. I hope my wagon gave you a good write up.

    1. It’s a very nice Cruiser you have there Martin. My editor is based in MA and wondered how it was so rust-free with MA plates!

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