Wagons Ho!

Posted by: Doug in Member Blogs

The station Wagon is a dying breed, at least in America. European and Japanese auto makers are still offering a selection of estate cars and shooting brakes but the Country Squires and Vista Cruisers have been replaced by the Expedition and Bravada. The SUV has become the station wagon for the 1990's. The survival rate of station wagons has been understandably low as most are simple used until they die from exhaustion. Many wagons went to the scrap heap during the gas shortages of the 1970's. Few station wagons outside of the 'woodies' and Chevy's Nomad have any collectibility at present although some 1960's muscle wagons are beginning to gain in value.

Toy car makers have never done a lot of station wagon models in any scale. In 1:64 scale, there may be more than other size, as wagons have never been hot in the more collectible scales of 1:43 or 1:24. Toy station wagons fall into three groups; domestic, import and hot rod. Part one of this article will begin with the domestic, U.S. made station wagons. Watch for import and hod rod wagons in future issues.

1956 Ford Station Wagon #31A, Matchbox
(provided from the collection of James Haworth)

1954 Corvette Nomad #P171, Johnny Lightning

Both Matchbox and Siku did wagons in the 1950s. For Matchbox, a 1956 Ford Station Wagon, #31-A, of 1957, provides a look at car that is seldom seen today. It was followed with a 1958 Ford , #31-B in 1960, and it is interesting to see how much the styling changed in just a few years. These two cars pictured are from the amazing Matchbox collection of James Haworth, and his help is truly appreciated. Siku was still doing plastic bodies until 1964 but they offered a 1957 Mercury Voyager, #V-170 in 1961, an extreamly rare piece today.

1958 Ford Station Wagon #31B, Matchbox
(provided from the collection of James Haworth)

1955 Chevrolet Nomad, Hot Wheels

1955 Chevrolet Nomad Custom, Hot Wheels (rep.)

The most valuable wagons have always been the Nomads produced from 1955 to 1957 by Chevrolet. These cars came from a Corvette Nomad show car of 1954. This Corvette wagon has now been done by Johnny Lightning (#P171 of 1996) as part of their Corvette series. Hot Wheels has done two versions of the 1955 Nomad. A custom version was offered first in 1970 and later altered with a stock hood and grill, which is still produced. The early custom was re-released in an anniversary version as well. Racing Champions has a 1956 Nomad in their line. The 1957 Nomad was offered by Zee Toys as D103 and may still be available through Red Box.

1967 Mercury Commuter #73C, Matchbox

1957 Chevrolet Nomad, #D103, Zee Toys

The wagons of the 1960's are even fewer with Matchbox offfering two of the five produced. The 1964 Studebaker Lark Wagonaire was offered in 1965 as #42-B. It comes complete with a sliding rear roof, just like the original. Corgi offered the same car in their Husky line but as an ambulance. The second Matchbox is a 1967 Mercury Commuter #73-C of 1968, and has two dogs in the back. Yat Ming offered the Ford Country Squire edition of the same car #1015 and then offered an altered version with new hood, grill and base. The later car also has painted wood grain on the sides. Playart did a version of this car as well, perhaps copying the Matchbox casting.

For the 1970's and 1980's only two wagons remain, again by Matchbox. In 1978 the 1977 Mercury Cougar Villager, #74-C. In 1987 the Mercury Sable Wagon, #55-G became the third Mercury wagon produced by Matchbox. This same Sable has nowbeen offewred as 'The Brady Bunch' car in the Matchbox Star Cars series. Like the earlier Yat Ming Ford, it has painted wood grain sides.

With just a handful of American wagons still n production, it is unlikely that few new wagons will be done. It is posible that some older wagons will be done with obvious choices like the Pontiac Safari or the GM muscle wagons of the late 1960's, possible choices. Station wagons will always be a part of Americana and perhaps, they will someday make a come-back. Chevrolet recently offered an retro-styled Nomad show car at U.S. auto shows and the response was qiute positive. Everything old is new again.

1977 Mercury Cougar Villager #74C, Matchbox

1968 Ford Country Squire #1015, Yat Ming

1970 Ford Country Squire #1015, Yat Ming

1970 Ford Country Squire, Playart

1964 Studebaker Lark Wagonaire #42B, Matchbox

1986 Mercury Sable Wagon #55-G, Matchbox

1986 Mercury Sable Wagon, Matchbox
(Brady Bunch Star Car)

Here is a full-sized wagon in the collection. It's a 1972 Buick Sportwagon

Tags: Vehicles, Tales of Toy Cars

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