My pal, Jorge has been suffering through problems with the cooling system on his Chevy Suburban SUV all this winter. We’ve been brainstorming and scratching our heads looking for a satisfactory resolution of this more and more expensive, frustrating conundrum. We think we have it fixed. There was an air pocket in the water jacket of the engine. Jorge had it flushed out and all seems OK, for now.
This all led to a discussion of cars we have liked and/or drove when we were younger. We both like vehicles that are somewhat utilitarian, but are not trucks. Jorge is especially disillusioned with his own truck. He brought up the subject of station wagons. Jorge grew up in Oaxica, Mexico in a large family. The family cars were always station wagons.
In fact, Jorge’s first car was an old Dodge Dart station wagon that was just the right size and was perfect for his commutes to university in Mexico City. So he said he has a nostalgic tug at his heartstrings for station wagons. So, it turns out that Jorge and I share something of interest rather than being fellow gym rats.
I mentioned that the first new, not used, car I ever purchased was a station wagon. I have bittersweet memories of that car because it was one of Chevrolet’s concepts that went terribly wrong.
Yes, the car was a 1973 Vega Kammback. The car’s styling was quite attractive. The handling of the vehicle was sporty and better than average for an economy car. The load capacity was decent, too. But that’s where the kudos came to a screaching halt. The engine was sadly underpowered and ran poorly. From day one, the thing would run on after shutting off the ignition. To stop the engine, I had to put the car in gear and let out the clutch. It soon developed the habit of burning motor oil and fouling the sparkplugs. I could go on for several paragraphs listing the many faults of this sorry little car. But hey, it looked really nice if you didn’t notice the rusty lower fenders. The brown paint helped in that regard. Jorge and I had a good laugh about Chevy Vegas. It turned out his brother owned one. It was a worse lemon than mine.
I mentioned that my own brother had a liking for a certain type of station wagon, too. Mark was really a big fan of 1957 Chevrolet BelAirs. He had a special liking for the Nomad wagon of that vintage. He also enjoyed the Pontiac version of the same car, called the Safari wagon. But if push came to shove, Mark would opt for the Chevy. Jorge said he remembered seeing some of them at various car shows now and then. He thought they were a good combination of the utilitarian with the comfort and safety of a car. Much sexier than a minivan. Not that there’s anything wrong with a minivan, they’re as disparaged as wagons have been. If you need a minivan, that’s fine. Just don’t try to sell one to Jorge or me.
I did have the pleasure of owning another station wagon. It was my pride and joy for several years. The 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Synchro. In fact the only way you could get an all-wheel drive Synchro was in the station wagon style. It had some endearing design quirks. The best one being its five-cylinder engine. The all wheel drive is something I really enjoyed for its convenience during our harsh Nebraska winters. It was a very comfortable, safe car to drive. I really enjoyed the tornado red paint job, too. I did have some complaints, though. The shift linkage would part company from the transmission every few thousand miles. Also, the clutch would fail to fully disengage on very hot days during long drives. The repairs, when needed, about twice per year, tended to be very expensive. I had to endure long waits for parts to arrive from Germany, too. So, I reluctantly traded off my red wagon.
Station wagons are not produced in great quantities by many manufacturers anymore. The day before yesterday I spotted a really nice VW Passat wagon at the post office. Are we ever satisfied with what we already have? I am. But it’s fun to look at something new. Just to look.
The Blue Jay of Happiness liked the ad campaign “Fahrvergnugen”.