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Station wagon

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2018 Volvo V60 Estate2016 Ford Mondeo Estate1984 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon
2018 Volvo V60 Estate
2018 Volvo V60 Estate2016 Ford Mondeo Estate1984 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon
2016 Ford Mondeo Estate
2018 Volvo V60 Estate2016 Ford Mondeo Estate1984 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon
1984 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon

A station wagon (US, also wagon) or estate car (UK, also estate), is an automotive body-style variant of a sedan/saloon with its roof extended rearward over a shared passenger/cargo volume with access at the back via a third or fifth door (the liftgate or tailgate), instead of a trunk/boot lid.[1] The body style transforms a standard three-box design into a two-box design — to include an A, B, and C-pillar, as well as a D-pillar. Station wagons can flexibly reconfigure their interior volume via fold-down rear seats to prioritize either passenger or cargo volume.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a station wagon as "an automobile with one or more rows of folding or removable seats behind the driver and no luggage compartment but an area behind the seats into which suitcases, parcels, etc., can be loaded through a tailgate."[2]

When a model range includes multiple body styles, such as sedan, hatchback, and station wagon, the models typically share their platform, drivetrain and bodywork forward of the A-pillar, and usually the B-pillar as well. In 1969, Popular Mechanics said, "Station wagon-style ... follows that of the production sedan of which it is the counterpart. Most are on the same wheelbase, offer the same transmission and engine options, and the same comfort and convenience options."[3]

Station wagons have evolved from their early use as specialized vehicles to carry people and luggage to and from a train station, especially to estates, and have been marketed worldwide. However, the demand for the station wagon body style has faded since the 2010s.[4][5][6]

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American English

American English

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. English is the most widely spoken language in the United States and in most circumstances is the de facto common language used in government, education and commerce. Since the 20th century, American English has become the most influential form of English worldwide.

British English

British English

British English is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, "English as used in Great Britain, as distinct from that used elsewhere". More narrowly, it can refer specifically to the English language in England, or, more broadly, to the collective dialects of English throughout the British Isles taken as a single umbrella variety, for instance additionally incorporating Scottish English, Welsh English, and Northern Irish English. Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English acknowledges that British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions [with] the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".

Car body style

Car body style

There are many types of car body styles. They vary depending on intended use, market position, location, and the era they were made in.

Sedan (automobile)

Sedan (automobile)

A sedan or saloon is a passenger car in a three-box configuration with separate compartments for an engine, passengers, and cargo.

Pillar (car)

Pillar (car)

The pillars on a car with permanent roof body style are the vertical or nearly vertical supports of its window area or greenhouse—designated respectively as the A, B, C and D-pillar, moving from front to rear, in profile view.



A hatchback is a car body configuration with a rear door that swings upward to provide access to a cargo area. Hatchbacks may feature fold-down second row seating, where the interior can be reconfigured to prioritize passenger or cargo volume. Hatchbacks may feature two- or three-box design.

Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics is a magazine of popular science and technology, featuring automotive, home, outdoor, electronics, science, do-it-yourself, and technology topics. Military topics, aviation and transportation of all types, space, tools and gadgets are commonly featured.


Reflecting the original purpose of transporting people and luggage between country estates and train stations,[7] the body style is called an "estate car" or "estate" in the United Kingdom or a "wagon" in Australia and New Zealand.

The depot hackney or taxi, often on a Model T chassis with an exposed wood body, most often found around railroad stations was the predecessor of the station wagon body style in the United States.[8] These early models with exposed wooden bodies became known as woodies.[9][10][11]

In Germany, the term "Kombi" is used, short for Kombinationskraftwagen ("combination motor vehicle").

Station wagons have been marketed using the French term "break de chasse" (sometimes abbreviated to "break"), which translates as "hunting break", due to shared ancestry with the shooting-brake body style.

Manufacturers may designate station wagons across various model lines with a proprietary nameplate for marketing and advertising differentiation. Examples include "Avant", "Caravan", "Kombi", "Sports Tourer", "Sports Wagon", "Tourer", "Touring", and "Variant".

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Estate (land)

Estate (land)

An estate is a large parcel of land under single ownership, which would historically generate income for its owner.

Train station

Train station

A train station, railway station, railroad station, or railway depot is a railway facility where trains stop to load or unload passengers, freight, or both. It generally consists of at least one platform, one track, and a station building providing such ancillary services as ticket sales, waiting rooms, and baggage/freight service. If a station is on a single-track line, it often has a passing loop to facilitate traffic movements.

Hackney carriage

Hackney carriage

A hackney or hackney carriage is a carriage or car for hire. A hackney of a more expensive or high class was called a remise. A symbol of London and Britain, the black taxi is a common sight on the streets of the UK. The hackney carriages carry a roof sign TAXI that can be illuminated at night to indicate their availability for passengers.

Ford Model T Depot Hack

Ford Model T Depot Hack

The Ford Model T Depot Hack is a depot hack made by Ford from 1919 to 1923. It was based on the chassis of the Ford Model TT.

Woodie (car body style)

Woodie (car body style)

A woodie is a wood-bodied automobile, that became a popular type of station wagon the bodywork of which is constructed of wood or is styled to resemble wood elements. The appearance of polished wood gave a resemblance to fine wooden furniture and on many occasions the wood theme continued to the dashboard and inner door panels including the rear tailgate.

French language

French language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the Latin spoken in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Design characteristics

Comparison with hatchbacks

Typical pillar configurations of a sedan (three box), station wagon (two box) and hatchback (two box) from the same model range
Typical pillar configurations of a sedan (three box), station wagon (two box) and hatchback (two box) from the same model range

Station wagons and hatchbacks have in common a two-box design configuration, a shared interior volume for passengers and cargo[12][13] and a rear door (often called a tailgate in the case of a wagon) that is hinged at roof level.[14][15] Folding rear seats (to create a larger space for cargo) are also common on both station wagons and hatchbacks.[2]

Distinguishing features between hatchbacks and station wagons include:

  • D-pillar: Station wagons are more likely to have a D-pillar (hatchbacks and station wagons both have A-, B-, and C-pillars).
  • Cargo volume: Station wagons prioritize passenger and cargo volume — with windows beside the cargo volume. Of the two body styles, a station wagon roof (viewed in profile) more likely extends to the very rearmost of the vehicle, enclosing a full-height cargo volume[13] — a hatchback roof (especially a liftback roof) is likely rake down steeply behind the C-Pillar, prioritizing style[1] over interior volume or cargo capacity, sometimes having a shorter rear overhang and including smaller side windows (or no windows).

Other differences are more variable and can potentially include:

  • Cargo floor contour: A station wagon often has a fold-flat floor (for increased cargo capacity), whereas a hatchback is more likely to have a cargo floor with a pronounced contour.
  • Seating: Some station wagons have three rows of seats, whereas a hatchback will have two at most.[12] The rearmost row of seating in a station wagon is often located in the cargo area and can be front-facing, rear-facing, or side-facing.
  • Rear suspension: A station wagon may include reconfigured rear suspension for additional load capacity[1] and to minimize intrusion in the cargo volume.
  • Rear Door: Hatchbacks usually feature a top-hinged liftgate for cargo access, with variations ranging from a two-part liftgate to a complex tailgate that can function either as a full tailgate or as a trunk/boot lid. Station wagons have also been equipped with numerous tailgate configurations. Hatchbacks may be called Liftbacks when the opening area is very sloped and the door is lifted up to open.[12] A design director from General Motors has described the difference as "Where you break the roofline, at what angle, defines the spirit of the vehicle", he said. "You could have a 90-degree break in the back and have a station wagon."[16]

It has become common for station wagons to use a platform shared with other body styles, resulting in many shared components (such as chassis, engine, transmission, bodywork forward of the A-pillar, interior features, and optional features) being used for the wagon, sedan and hatchback variants of the model range.[3]

Tailgate designs

Many modern station wagons have an upward-swinging, full-width, full-height rear door supported on gas springs — often where the rear window can swing up independently. A variety of other designs have been employed in the past.

Split gate

The split-gate features an upward-swinging window combined with a downward-swinging tailgate, both manually operated. This configuration was common in the 1920s through the 1940s, and remained common on many models into the 1960s.

Retractable window

In the early 1950s, tailgates with hand-cranked roll-down rear windows began to appear. Later in the decade, electric power was applied to the tailgate window so it could be operated from the driver's seat as well as by the key in the tailgate. By the early 1970s, this arrangement was available on full-size, intermediate, and compact wagons. The lowered bottom hinged tailgate extended the cargo area floor and could also serve as a picnic table for "tailgating."[17]

  • Side hinge: A side-hinged tailgate that opened like a door was offered on some three-seat station wagons to make it easier for the back row passengers to enter and exit their rear-facing seats.
Split tailgaterear roof retracted and tailgate hinged down
Split tailgate
Split tailgaterear roof retracted and tailgate hinged down
rear roof retracted and tailgate hinged down

Retractable roof

These have a retractable rear roof section, as well as a conventional rear tailgate that opened down, to carry tall objects upright. The configuration appeared on the Studebaker Wagonaire station wagon and the GMC Envoy XUV.[18]

Dual and tri-operating gates

Side-hinged tailgateTailgate folded downA dual tailgate on a Ford Country Squire
Side-hinged tailgate
Side-hinged tailgateTailgate folded downA dual tailgate on a Ford Country Squire
Tailgate folded down
A dual tailgate on a Ford Country Squire

In the United States, Ford's full-size station wagons for 1966 introduced a system marketed as "Magic Doorgate" — a conventional tailgate with retracting rear glass, where the tailgate could either fold down or pivot open on a side hinge — with the rear window retracted in either case. Competitors marketed their versions as a Drop and Swing or Dual Action Tailgate.[3] For 1969, Ford incorporated a design that allowed the rear glass to remain up or down when the door pivoted open on its side hinge, marketing the system, which had been engineered by Donald N. Frey[19] as the "Three-Way Magic Doorgate".

Similar configurations became the standard on full-size and intermediate station wagons from GM, Ford, Chrysler, and American Motors (AMC). GM added a notch in the rear bumper that acted as a step plate; to fill the gap, a small portion of the bumper was attached to the tailgate. When opened as a swinging door, this part of the bumper moved away, allowing the depression in the bumper to provide a "step" to ease entry; when the gate was opened by being lowered or raised to a closed position, the chrome section remained in place making the bumper "whole".

Clam shell

Closed tailgateTailgate folded open1971 Buick Estate Wagon with a "clam shell" tailgate
Closed tailgate
Closed tailgateTailgate folded open1971 Buick Estate Wagon with a "clam shell" tailgate
Tailgate folded open
1971 Buick Estate Wagon with a "clam shell" tailgate

Full-size General Motors, from 1971 through 1976 station wagons (Chevrolet Kingswood, Townsman, Brookwood, Bel Air, Impala, and Caprice Estates; Pontiac Safari and Grand Safari; Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, and the Buick Estate models) featured a 'clam shell' design marketed as the Glide-away tailgate, also called a "disappearing" tailgate because when open, the tailgate was completely out of view.[20] On the clamshell design, the rear power-operated glass slid up into the roof and the lower tailgate (with either manual or optional power operation), lowered completely below the load floor. Where manually operated, the lower tailgate was counterbalanced by a torque rod similar to the torque rods used in holding a trunk lid open, requiring a 35-pound (16 kg) push to fully lower the gate. Raising the manual gate required a 5 lb pull via a handhold integral to the top edge of the retractable gate.[21] The power operation of both upper glass and lower tailgate became standard equipment in later model years. Station wagons with the design were available with an optional third row of forward-facing seats accessed by the rear side doors and a folding second-row seat. They could accommodate 4-by-8-foot (1.2 m × 2.4 m) sheets of plywood or other panels with the rear seats folded. The clamshell design required no increased footprint or operational area to open, allowing a user to stand at the cargo opening without the impediment of a door — for example, in a closed garage.

The GM design, as used in a Pontiac Grand Safari, with a forward-facing third-row seat and the clamshell tailgate was less popular with consumers and was described as the "least convenient of all wagon arrangements" with difficult passenger egress and problematic tailgate operation in comparison to the 1974 AMC Ambassador, Dodge Monaco, and Mercury Colony Park, full-size station wagons conducted by Popular Science magazine.[22] Subsequent GM full-size wagons reverted to the door/gate system for its full-size wagons.


A lift-gate on a Volkswagen Passat Variant
A lift-gate on a Volkswagen Passat Variant

A simplified, one-piece lift-gate on smaller wagons. The AMC Hornet Sportabout was introduced for the 1972 model year featuring a "liftgate-style hatchback instead of swing-out or fold-down tailgate ... would set a precedent for liftgates in modern SUVs."[23] The 1978-1996 GM's mid-size station wagons also returned to the upward-lifting rear window/gate as had been used in the 1940s.

  • Swing-up window: An upward-lifting, full-height, full-width rear door, where the window on the rear door can be opened independently from the rear door itself. The window is also opened upwards and is held on pneumatic struts. The Renault Laguna II station wagon and Ford Taurus wagon featured this arrangement.
  • Fold-up license plate: Wagons (including the Volvo Amazon wagon, early models of the Range Rover, and the Subaru Baja) had an upward folding hinged license plate attached to the lower tailgate of the split rear door. When the tailgate was folded down, the plate hung down and remained readable. The wagon versions of the Citroën DS, variously called the Break, Familiale, or Safari, had a different solution: two number plates were fitted to the tailgate at right angles to each other so one would be visible in either position.

Safety equipment

Cargo barriers may be used to prevent unsecured cargo from causing injuries in the event of sudden deceleration, collision, or a rollover.[24]

Performance models

Performance models of station wagons have included the 1970 Ford Falcon (XY) 'Grand Sport' pack,[25] the 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS-454 and the 1992 BMW M5 (E34).

The 1994 Audi RS2, developed in conjunction with Porsche, has been described as the world's first performance station wagon.[26] This was followed by the Audi RS4 and Audi RS6.

The 2006-2008 Dodge Magnum SRT-8 model brought together power and performance in a roomy station wagon.[27][28][29]

Other German manufacturers have produced station wagon versions of their performance models, such as the Mercedes-AMG C63, Mercedes-AMG E63, BMW M5 (E60/E61), Volkswagen Golf R and Volkswagen Passat R36 wagons.[30][31][32]

The Cadillac CTS-V Wagon introduced for the 2011 model year was considered the most powerful production station wagon offered with a manual transmission and the Corvette-engined version continued until 2014.[33][34]

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Pillar (car)

Pillar (car)

The pillars on a car with permanent roof body style are the vertical or nearly vertical supports of its window area or greenhouse—designated respectively as the A, B, C and D-pillar, moving from front to rear, in profile view.

Car model

Car model

The model of a car is its design, in the context of the manufacturer's range or series of cars. Different models are distinguishable by technology, components, underpinnings, and/or style and appearance.



A hatchback is a car body configuration with a rear door that swings upward to provide access to a cargo area. Hatchbacks may feature fold-down second row seating, where the interior can be reconfigured to prioritize passenger or cargo volume. Hatchbacks may feature two- or three-box design.



A liftback is a variation of hatchback with a sloping roofline between 45 and 5 degrees. Traditional hatchback designs usually have a 90 to 46 degree slope on the tailgate or rear door. As such the liftback is essentially a hatchback with a more sloping roof, similar to sedans/saloons from a styling perspective. Some liftbacks may also have an appearance similar to a coupe but with a tailgate hinged at the roof that is lifted to open.

Car platform

Car platform

A car platform is a shared set of common design, engineering, and production efforts, as well as major components, over a number of outwardly distinct models and even types of cars, often from different, but somewhat related, marques. It is practiced in the automotive industry to reduce the costs associated with the development of products by basing those products on a smaller number of platforms. This further allows companies to create distinct models from a design perspective on similar underpinnings. A car platform is not to be confused with a platform chassis, although such a chassis can be part of an automobile’s design platform, as noted below.

Gas spring

Gas spring

A gas spring, also known as a gas strut, is a type of spring that, unlike a typical mechanical spring that relies on elastic deformation, uses compressed gas contained within an enclosed cylinder sealed by a sliding piston to pneumatically store potential energy and withstand external force applied parallel to the direction of the piston shaft.

Studebaker Wagonaire

Studebaker Wagonaire

The Studebaker Wagonaire was a station wagon produced by the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana, from 1963–1966. It featured a retractable sliding rear roof section that allowed the vehicle to carry items that would otherwise be too tall for a conventional station wagon of the era.

GMC Envoy

GMC Envoy

The GMC Envoy is a mid-size SUV, manufactured and marketed by General Motors for model years 1998-2009 over two generations. Adopting a nameplate used by GM Canada, the Envoy was a rebadged variant of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Oldsmobile Bravada, Buick Rainier, Isuzu Ascender, and Saab 9-7X.

Ford Country Squire

Ford Country Squire

The Ford Country Squire is a series of full-size station wagons that were assembled by American automaker Ford. Positioned as the top-level station wagon of the Ford division, the Country Squire was distinguished by woodgrain bodyside trim. From 1950 through the 1991 model years, eight generations of the Country Squire were produced. Following the discontinuation of Edsel Bermuda, Mercury marketed the Mercury Colony Park as a divisional counterpart of the Country Squire, sharing bodywork and trim while the Mercury was not available with a six cylinder engine and was more expensive due to the optional equipment on the Ford that was standard on the Mercury.

Donald N. Frey

Donald N. Frey

Donald Nelson Frey, was widely known as the Ford Motor Company product manager who, along with Lee Iacocca and others, developed the Ford Mustang into a viable project — and who ultimately supervised the development of the car in a record 18 months.

History by country

United States

1910 to 1940: Origins and woodie wagons

1914 Ford Model T1934 Buick Series 50 station wagon1940 Pontiac Special Series 25
1934 Buick Series 50 station wagon
1914 Ford Model T1934 Buick Series 50 station wagon1940 Pontiac Special Series 25
1940 Pontiac Special Series 25

The first station wagons were built in around 1910, by independent manufacturers producing wooden custom bodies for the Ford Model T chassis.[35] They were originally called "depot hacks" because they worked around train depots as hacks (short for hackney carriage, as taxicabs were then known).[36] They also came to be known as "carryalls" and "suburbans".[35] Station wagons were initially considered commercial vehicles (rather than consumer automobiles) and the framing of the early station wagons was left unsheathed, due to the commercial nature of the vehicles. Early station wagons were fixed-roof vehicles, but lacked the glass that would normally enclose the passenger compartment, and had only bench seats.[37] In lieu of glass, side curtains of canvas could be unrolled. More rigid curtains could be snapped in place to protect passengers from the elements outside. The roofs of "woodie" wagons were usually made of stretched canvas that was treated with a waterproofing dressing. The framing of the wooden bodies was sheathed in steel and coated with tinted lacquer for protection. These wooden bodies required constant maintenance: varnishes required re-coating and expansion/contraction of the wood meant that bolts and screws required periodic re-tightening.

Manufacture of the wooden bodies was initially outsourced to custom coachbuilders,[38][39] because the production of the all-wood bodies was very time-consuming. Eventually, car manufacturers began producing their own station wagon designs. In 1922, the Essex Closed Coach became the first mass-produced car to use a steel body (in this case, a fully enclosed sedan body style).[40] In 1923, Star (a division of Durant Motors) became the first car company to offer a station wagon assembled on its production line (using a wooden wagon body shipped in from an outside supplier).[41][42][43] One of the first builders of wagon bodies was the Stoughton Wagon Company from Wisconsin, which began putting custom wagon bodies on the Ford Model T chassis in 1919[37] and by 1929 the Ford Motor Company was the biggest producer of chassis' for station wagons. Since Ford owned its own hardwood forest and mills (at the Ford Iron Mountain Plant in what is today Kingsford, Michigan in Michigan's Upper Peninsula) it began supplying the wood components for the Model A station wagon.[37] Also in 1929, J.T. Cantrell began supplying woodie bodies for Chrysler vehicles, which continued until 1931.[37]

By the 1930s, station wagons had become expensive and well-equipped vehicles.[42] When it was introduced in 1941 the Chrysler Town & Country was the most expensive car in the company's model range. The first all-steel station wagon body style was the 1935 Chevrolet Suburban.[35] As part of the overall trend in the automotive industry, wooden bodies were superseded by all-steel bodies due to their strength, cost, and durability.[37] The commercial vehicle status was also reflected on those vehicles' registrations For example, there were special "Suburban" license plates in Pennsylvania used well into the 1960s, long after station wagons became car-based.

1945 to 1970: Steel-bodied station wagons

1954 Studebaker Conestoga1954 Plymouth Savoy Station Wagon1958 AMC Ambassador 4-door pillarless hardtop station wagon
1954 Studebaker Conestoga
1954 Studebaker Conestoga1954 Plymouth Savoy Station Wagon1958 AMC Ambassador 4-door pillarless hardtop station wagon
1954 Plymouth Savoy Station Wagon
1954 Studebaker Conestoga1954 Plymouth Savoy Station Wagon1958 AMC Ambassador 4-door pillarless hardtop station wagon
1958 AMC Ambassador 4-door pillarless hardtop station wagon

The first all-steel station wagon was the 1935 Chevrolet Suburban, which was built on the chassis of a panel truck.[35] However, most station wagons were produced with wooden bodies until after World War II.

When automobile production resumed after World War II, advances in production techniques made all-steel station wagon bodies more practical, eliminating the cost, noise, and maintenance associated with wood bodies.[44] The first mass-produced steel-bodied station wagon was the 1946 Willys Station Wagon, based on the chassis of the Jeep CJ-2A.[35][45][46] In 1947, Crosley introduced a steel-bodied station wagon version of the Crosley CC Four.

The first postwar station wagon to be based on a passenger car chassis was the 1949 Plymouth Suburban, which used a two-door body style. Several manufacturers produced steel and wooden-bodied station wagons concurrently for several years. For example, Plymouth continued the production of wooden-bodied station wagons until 1950. The final wooden-bodied station produced in the United States was the 1953 Buick Super Estate.

By 1951, most station wagons were being produced with all-steel bodies.[35] Station wagons experienced the highest production levels in the United States from the 1950s through the 1970s as a result of the American Mid-20th century baby boom.

The late 1950s through the mid-1960s was also the period of greatest variation in body styles, with models available without a B-pillar (called hardtop or pillarless models) or with a B-pillar, both in 2-door and 4-door variants.[47]

The 1956 Rambler was an all-new design and the 4-door "Cross Country" featured the industry's first station wagon hardtop.[48] However, the pillarless models could be expensive to produce, added wind noise, and created structural issues with body torque.[49] GM eliminated the pillarless wagon from its lineup in 1959, while AMC and Ford exited the field beginning with their 1960 and 1961 vehicles, leaving Chrysler and Dodge with the body style through the 1964 model year.

1970 to 1990: Competition from minivans

1986-1988 Plymouth Reliant station wagon
1986-1988 Plymouth Reliant station wagon

The popularity of the station wagon - particularly full-size station wagons - in the United States was blunted by increased fuel prices caused by the 1973 oil crisis.[35][42] Then in 1983, the market for station wagons was further eroded by the Chrysler minivans, based on the K platform.[36][50] While the K platform was also used for station wagon models (such as the Plymouth Reliant and Dodge Aries), the minivan would soon eclipse them in popularity.

The US CAFE standards provided an advantage to minivans (and later SUVs) over station wagons, because the minivans and SUVs were classified as trucks in the United States, and therefore subject to less stringent fuel economy and emissions regulations. Station wagons remained popular in Europe[51] and in locations where emissions and efficiency regulations did not distinguish between cars and light trucks.[52]

1990 to present: Competition from SUVs

The emergence and popularity of SUVs which closely approximate the traditional station wagon body style was a further blow. After struggling sales, the Chevrolet Caprice and the Buick Roadmaster, the last American full-size wagons, were discontinued in 1996. Smaller station wagons were marketed as lower-priced alternatives to SUVs and minivans. Domestic wagons also remained in the Ford, Mercury, and Saturn lines. However, after 2004 these compact station wagons also began to be phased out in the United States. The Ford Taurus wagon was discontinued in 2005 and the Ford Focus station wagon was discontinued in 2008. An exception to this trend was the Subaru Legacy and Subaru Outback station wagon models, which continue to be produced at the Subaru of Indiana plant. With other brands, the niche previously occupied by station wagons is now primarily filled with a similar style of Crossover SUV, which generally has a car underpinning and a wagon body.

Imported station wagons, despite remaining popular in other countries,[53] struggled in the United States. European car manufacturers such as Audi, Volvo, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz continued to offer station wagons in their North American product ranges (marketed using the labels "Avant", "Touring", and "Estate" respectively). However, these vehicles had fewer trim and power train levels than their sedan counterparts.[50] The Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG in Estate trim is a performance station wagon offered in the U.S. market. The station wagon variants of the smaller Mercedes-Benz C-Class line-up were dropped in 2007 and the BMW 5 Series Touring models were discontinued in 2010, due to slow sales in the United States with only 400 wagons sold in 2009.[54] In 2012, the Volvo V50 compact station wagon was withdrawn from the U.S. market due to poor sales.

The Cadillac CTS gave rise to a station wagon counterpart, the 2010 CTS Sportwagon, which defied the trend by offering almost as many trim levels as its sedan counterpart.[50] The CTS wagon, particularly in the performance CTS-V trim, received positive reviews until it was discontinued in 2014.[55][56]

In 2011, the Toyota Prius V introduced hybrid power to the compact wagon market, but was discontinued in 2017 to streamline the Toyota hybrid lineup and focus on the RAV4 Hybrid Crossover SUV.[57]

The 2015 VW Golf Sportwagen[58] was marketed as a sub-compact station wagon in the North American market. This model was withdrawn from the US market after 2019.[59]

In 2016, Volvo reintroduced a large wagon to the US market with the Volvo V90, but only by special order.[60]

Simulated wood paneling

1988 AMC Eagle Wagon with simulated wood panelling1950 Plymouth Woodie Station Wagon
1988 AMC Eagle Wagon with simulated wood panelling
1988 AMC Eagle Wagon with simulated wood panelling1950 Plymouth Woodie Station Wagon
1950 Plymouth Woodie Station Wagon

As the wooden bodies were replaced by steel bodies from 1945 until 1953, manufacturers applied wooden decorative trim to the steel-bodied wagons, as a visual link to the previous wooden style. By the late 1950s, the wooden trim was replaced by "simulated wood" in the form of stick-on vinyl coverings.[61] The woodgrain feature is not that the body is wood — or that it could ever be wood - rather, it is "totally honest in its artificiality."[8]

The design element was also used on cars that were not station wagons, including sedans, pickup trucks, and convertibles.[62][61]

Unique simulated wood designs included trim on the body pillars of the compact-size Nash Rambler station wagons that went up the roof's drip rail and around on the spit liftgate While the larger Cross Country was available with bodyside wood trim that went unbroken up the C and D pillars to a thin strip on the roof above the side windows.[48][8]

The Ford Country Squire is a model that was easily recognized by its simulated wood trim[63][64] and the "Squire" trim level was an available option in a few different Ford model ranges, including the Falcon Squire, Fairlane Squire, and in the 1970s the Pinto Squire. The Squire was always the highest trim level of any Ford Wagon and included the signature woodgrain applique, and usually additional exterior chrome, better interior trim, special emblems, etc. The full-size Country Squire model was produced in higher quantities than the other Ford models.

Other woodie-style wagon models produced in significant numbers include the 1984-1993 Jeep Grand Wagoneer,[65][66] 1957-1991 Mercury Colony Park, 1968-1988 Chrysler Town & Country, 1970-1990 Buick Estate, 1971-1992 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser and 1969-1972 Chevrolet Kingswood Estate.

Full-size wagons

1969 Ford LTD Country Squire1975 AMC Matador with third-row seat and two-way tailgate open for passenger egress
1975 AMC Matador with third-row seat and two-way tailgate open for passenger egress

From the 1950s until the 1990s, many full-size American station wagons could be optioned with a third row of seating in the cargo area (over the rear axle) for a total of nine seats. Before 1956, the third-row seats were forward-facing.

Chrysler's 1957 models had a roof too low to permit a forward-facing seat in the cargo area, so a rear-facing seat was used for the third row.

General Motors adopted the rear-facing third row for most models during 1959-1971 and 1977–1996. However, the 1964–1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser and 1964–1969 Buick Sport Wagon featured raised roof lines beginning above the second-row seat and continuing all the way to the rear tailgate, resulting in the third row of seats being forward-facing. General Motors also used forward-facing seats for the third row in the 1971 through 1976 clam shell wagons.

The Ford and Mercury full-size wagons built after 1964 were available with four rows of seats, with the rear two rows in the cargo area and facing each other. The third and fourth rows were designed for two people each (although these seats were quite narrow in later models), giving a total seating capacity of ten people.

The trend since the 1980s for smaller station wagon bodies has limited the seating to two rows, resulting in a total capacity of five people, or six people if a bench front seat is used. Since the 1990s, full-size station wagons have been largely replaced by SUVs with three-row seating, such as the Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, and Dodge Durango.[67]

1954 Studebaker Conestoga circa 1956
1954 Studebaker Conestoga circa 1956

Two-door wagons

1958 Mercury Commuter hardtop1971 Chevrolet Vega Kammback
1958 Mercury Commuter hardtop
1958 Mercury Commuter hardtop1971 Chevrolet Vega Kammback
1971 Chevrolet Vega Kammback

The first two-door station wagon was the 1946 Willys Jeep Station Wagon.[68] Other early two-door station wagons were the 1951 Nash Rambler[69] and the 1954 Studebaker Conestoga.[70] In 1956, Studebaker introduced three new two-door wagons in Pelham, Parkview, and Pinehurst trims.[71]

General Motors began producing two-door station wagons in 1955 with the "Chevrolet Handyman" and the "Pontiac Chieftain".[72] General Motors also introduced the sportier Chevrolet Nomad and Pontiac Safari to their lineup in 1955. Ford began production of steel-bodied two-door station wagons in 1952 with the Ford Ranch Wagon. In 1956 Ford responded to the Nomad and Safari with its own sporty two-door wagon, The Ford Parklane. The Parklane was a one-year-only model, succeeded by the Ford Del Rio in 1957.

After the merger of Nash and Hudson, the new company, American Motors (AMC) reintroduced the two-door wagon in the "new" Rambler American line in 1958.[73] It was "recycling" with only a few modifications from the original version and targeted buyers looking for "no-frills" economy.[74] American Motors' strategy of reintroducing an old design made for two distinct model runs, one of few examples where such a strategy has been successful for an automobile manufacturer.[75]

The Chevrolet Vega Kammback, introduced in September 1970, was the first U.S.-made four-seat wagon and the first two-door wagon from GM in six years. It shared its wheelbase and length with Vega coupe versions and was produced in the 1971–1977 model years.

American Motors offered a two-door wagon version of the AMC Pacer from 1977 through 1980.[76][77]

The last two-door wagon available in America, the Geo Storm, was discontinued in 1993.

United Kingdom

1930s to 1960s

1954-1957 Hillman Husky
1954-1957 Hillman Husky

Early station wagon cars were after-market conversions, with the new bodywork using a wooden frame and either steel or wooden panels. These wooden-bodied cars, produced until the 1960s, were amongst the most expensive vehicles at the time. Since the 1930s, the term shooting-brake (originally a term for hunting vehicles) has been an alternative, if now rarely used, to the term for station wagons in the UK.

Later, station wagons were produced by vehicle manufacturers and included the 1937 Commer (based on the Hillman Minx Magnificent),[78] 1952 Morris Minor Traveller, 1952 Morris Oxford Traveller, 1954 Hillman Husky, 1954 Austin A30 Countryman and 1955 Ford Squire. The majority of these models were two-door wagons and several models were built on the chassis of relatively small cars.

Manufacturers often chose a specific model name to apply to all their station wagon cars as a marketing exercise — for example Austin used the Countryman name and Morris used the name Travellers. Some station wagons were closely derived from existing commercial van models, such as the Austin A30/35 Countryman and the Hillman Husky. Others, such as the Morris Travellers, the Austin Cambridge Countryman and the Standard Ten Companion were bespoke.

Rover and Austin produced 4×4 canvas-topped utility vehicles in the 1950s that were available in station wagon body styles that were sold as "Station Wagons". They incorporated better seating and trim than standard editions with options such as heaters. Early advertising for the Land Rover version took the name literally, showing the vehicle collecting people and goods from a railway station.

Despite the popularity of station wagons in America, station wagon offerings in the U.K. from Ford and Vauxhall were limited to factory-approved aftermarket conversions of the Ford Consul and Vauxhall Cresta, until the factory-built Vauxhall Victor wagon was introduced in 1958.

1960s to present

Ford Granada L Estate
Ford Granada L Estate

One of the smallest station wagons ever produced was the Morris Mini Traveller / Austin Mini Countryman, introduced in 1960.

Ford's first factory-built wagon was the 1963 Ford Cortina.

The 1967 Hillman Husky station wagon version of the Hillman Imp was unusual in being a rear-engined station wagon.

Ford and Vauxhall produced factory-built station wagon variants of all three of their respective core models (small-, mid-, and large-size cars) by the 1970s. The FD- and FE-Series Vauxhall Victors, built between 1966 and 1978, were very large cars by British standards and featured station wagon models in the style of an American station wagon with front and rear bench seats and large-capacity petrol engines.

Other station wagons sold in the United Kingdom included the Morris 1100 (introduced in 1966), Vauxhall Viva (introduced 1967), Ford Escort (introduced in 1968), and Vauxhall Chevette (introduced 1976).


2014 Mercedes-Benz C Class station wagon
2014 Mercedes-Benz C Class station wagon

Germany is the largest market for station wagons in the world, with around 600,000 to 700,000 vehicles sold each year - amounting to 20% of all car sales.[79] German-designed station wagons have been produced by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Opel, and Volkswagen. Some larger station wagon models are available with a third row of seats, such as the rear-facing jump seat for two passengers in the cargo area of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon.[80]

In 1961, Volkswagen introduced the two-door "Variant" body style of the Volkswagen Type 3 (also known as the Volkswagen 1500 - later the Volkswagen 1600). The Type 3's rear-engine layout was retained for the station wagon models, but the engine profile was flattened, resulting in a small car offering interior room, as well as trunk space in the front. The model was offered through the 1973 model year.

Station wagons produced in East Germany include the 1956–1965 Wartburg 311/312/313, the 1963–1990 Trabant 601 Universal, and the 1966–1988 Wartburg 353 Tourist.


1963 Peugeot 404 Break1972 Citroën DS Break
1963 Peugeot 404 Break
1963 Peugeot 404 Break1972 Citroën DS Break
1972 Citroën DS Break

In France, almost all station wagon models are called a "Break", although the spelling is different from the English shooting brake.

The first station wagon produced by a French manufacturer was the Citroën Traction Avant Familiale model introduced in 1935.[81] The first Peugeot station wagon was the Peugeot 203, introduced in 1950.[82]

In 1958, the Citroën ID Break (known as the Safari in English-speaking countries) was introduced, being larger than other French station wagon models and of similar size to the contemporary full-size station wagons from the United States. It had a seating capacity of eight people, consisting of two front-facing bench seats and two folding inward-facing seats in the cargo area. The 'Familiale' version had a front bench seat, a forward-facing three-space bench seat in the middle, and a folding forward-facing three-seat bench in the rear, providing a versatile nine-seat car. The Citroën ID also had a two-part tailgate and a hydropneumatic suspension that allowed a self-leveling ride height and automatic brake biasing regardless of the load carried. The car could also 'kneel' to the ground for easy loading of heavy or large items. The successors to the ID, the Citroën CX and Citroën XM continued to be amongst the largest station wagon cars produced in Europe, but the model was discontinued in 2000 and a station wagon version was not available for its Citroën C6 successor.

The Peugeot 404, introduced in 1960, offered a conventional large station wagon alternative to the innovative Citroëns. Its replacement, the 505 was available in both five-seat and seven-seat 'Familiale' versions. As with the Citroëns, changing demands in the French car market led to the end of the large Peugeot station wagon models in the mid-1990s, with the smaller Peugeot 406 becoming the largest station wagon model in the range from 1995. In a similar situation to the United States, the decline of traditional Break and Familiale models in France was in no small part due to the introduction of the minivan in the form of the Renault Espace in 1984.


Volvo Duett1974-1993 Volvo 240 wagon
1974-1993 Volvo 240 wagon

The first station wagon produced in Sweden was the Volvo Duett, introduced in 1953.[83] The Duett two-door wagon was conceived as a dual-function delivery van and people-carrier and is based on the chassis of the PV444 and PV544 sedans.

In 1962, the Volvo Duett was supplemented by a larger but lower Amazon, which has a four-door body and a horizontal split tailgate. Volvo continued production of station wagons through the Volvo 145 (introduced in 1967), then the Volvo 200 Series (introduced in 1974), and the Volvo 700 Series (introduced in 1985). In many markets, the station wagon models of the 700 Series significantly outsold the sedan models. In 1990, the 700 Series was replaced by the Volvo 900 Series, which was sold alongside the smaller Volvo 850 wagon that was introduced one year later. The 900 Series ended production in 1998 and its successor (the Volvo S80) did not include any wagon models. Volvo station wagons produced since the mid-1990s are the Volvo V40, Volvo V50, Volvo V60, Volvo V70, and Volvo V90, with the V40, V60, and V90 models currently in production.[84]

Saab began producing station wagons in 1959, in the form of the Saab 95 two-door wagon, which was based on the Saab 93 sedan.[85] Following a hiatus in station wagon production since the Saab 95 ended production in 1978, the company introduced the four-door Saab 9-5 station wagon in 1997, which was produced until 2010.[86] In 2005 a 'Sportwagon' version of the Saab 9-3 was introduced and produced until 2011.[87]

In 2017 station wagons accounted for 31% of all sold cars.[88]


In 1983, station wagons represented 15% of the passenger car market,[89] reflecting a trend throughout Europe of increasing popularity through the 1980s, with the vehicles becoming less cargo-oriented.


The first Japanese station wagon was the 1961 Isuzu Bellel four-door wagon, based on a compact sedan chassis. This was followed by the 1963 Mazda Familia, 1966 Toyota Corolla, 1967 Isuzu Florian, 1969 Mitsubishi Galant, 1973 Mitsubishi Lancer and 1974 Honda Civic wagons. However, Japanese manufacturers did not build station wagons in large volumes until recently.

Models marketed as passenger station wagons in export markets were often sold as utilitarian "van" models in the home market. Some were not updated for consecutive generations in a model's life in Japan. For example, a sedan might have a model life of four years, but the wagon was not updated for up to eight years (such as the Toyota Corolla wagon built from 1979 until 1987) and the 1987-1996 Mazda Capella wagon). Station wagons remain popular in Japan, although they are in slow decline as the SUVs and minivans have taken over a large portion of this market. Several Japanese compact MPVs such as Toyota Prius α take elements from older station wagons while being more in line with their corresponding category.


South Korean manufacturers do not have a strong tradition in producing station wagons. The first station wagon by the South Korean manufacturer was released way back in 1995 as the Hyundai Avante Touring (Lantra Sportswagon), followed in early 1996 as the Kia Pride station wagon. Daewoo Motor followed suit a year later with the first-generation Nubira.

South Korean manufacturer Kia produce both the Cee'd and Optima station wagons designated as Sportswagons with sister company Hyundai offering station wagon versions of the i30 and i40.


2017 Holden Commodore (VF) Sportwagon
2017 Holden Commodore (VF) Sportwagon

The first Australian-designed car was built in 1948 but locally designed station wagons did not appear until nine years later when the 1957 Holden FE was introduced. Holden's main competitor, the Ford Falcon (XK) introduced wagon models in 1960.

Ford and Holden produced wagon models based on each generation of their large sedan platforms until 2010. Other wagons produced in Australia include the smaller Toyota Camry and Mitsubishi Magna. The Ford and Holden wagons were usually built on a longer wheelbase than their sedan counterparts, until the introduction of the Holden Commodore (VE) which switched to sharing the sedan's shorter wheelbase.

Ford ceased production of wagons in Australia when the Ford Falcon (BF) ended production in 2010, largely due to the declining station wagon and large car market, but also following the 2004 introduction and sales success of the Ford Territory SUV.[90] Production of wagons in Australia ceased in 2017 when the Holden Commodore (VF) ended production.

Discover more about History by country related topics

Ford Model T

Ford Model T

The Ford Model T is an automobile that was produced by the Ford Motor Company from October 1, 1908, to May 26, 1927. It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, which made car travel available to middle-class Americans. The relatively low price was partly the result of Ford's efficient fabrication, including assembly line production instead of individual handcrafting. It was mainly designed by an American and two Hungarian engineers. The Model T was colloquially known as the "Tin Lizzie", "Leaping Lena" or "flivver".

Hackney carriage

Hackney carriage

A hackney or hackney carriage is a carriage or car for hire. A hackney of a more expensive or high class was called a remise. A symbol of London and Britain, the black taxi is a common sight on the streets of the UK. The hackney carriages carry a roof sign TAXI that can be illuminated at night to indicate their availability for passengers.

Commercial vehicle

Commercial vehicle

A commercial vehicle is any type of motor vehicle used for transporting goods or paying passengers.



A coachbuilder or body-maker is someone who manufactures bodies for passenger-carrying vehicles. Coachwork is the body of an automobile, bus, horse-drawn carriage, or railway carriage. The word "coach" was derived from the Hungarian town of Kocs. A vehicle body constructed by a coachbuilder may be called a "coachbuilt body" or "custom body".

Essex (automobile)

Essex (automobile)

The Essex was a brand of automobile produced by the Essex Motor Company between 1918 and 1922, and by Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan between 1922 and 1933.

Durant Motors

Durant Motors

Durant Motors Inc. was established in 1921 by former General Motors CEO William "Billy" Durant following his termination by the GM board of directors and the New York bankers who financed GM.

Kingsford, Michigan

Kingsford, Michigan

Kingsford is a city in Dickinson County in the U.S. state of Michigan, named for the developer Edward G. Kingsford. The population was 5,139 at the 2020 census, a slight increase from the 5,133 recorded at the 2010 census. It is part of the Iron Mountain, MI–WI Micropolitan Statistical Area. M-95 connects with US 2 and US 141 just a mile or so north in Iron Mountain. The road crosses the Menominee River into Wisconsin where it continues as County Road N in Florence County.

Ford Model A (1927–1931)

Ford Model A (1927–1931)

The Ford Model A was the Ford Motor Company's second market success, replacing the venerable Model T which had been produced for 18 years. It was first produced on October 20, 1927, but not introduced until December 2. This new Model A was designated a 1928 model and was available in four standard colors.

Chrysler Town & Country (1941–1988)

Chrysler Town & Country (1941–1988)

The Chrysler Town & Country is an automobile which was manufactured by Chrysler from 1940 to 1942 and from 1945 to 1988 with production interrupted during World War II. Primarily produced as a luxury station wagon, the Town & Country was also available in "woodie" four-door sedan, two-door hardtop and convertible body styles from 1947 to 1950, 1968 to 1969 and from 1983 to 1986. The 1988 model year was the last for the station wagon until the 1990 model year when Chrysler reintroduced the Town & Country nameplate as the rebadged variant Chrysler Town & Country minivan.

AMC Ambassador

AMC Ambassador

The Ambassador is an automobile manufactured and marketed by American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 1957 through 1974 over eight generations, available in two- and four-door sedan, two-door hardtop, four-door station wagon as well as two-door convertible body styles. It was classified as a full-size car from 1957 through 1961, mid-size from 1962 until 1966, and again full-size from 1967 through 1974 model years.

Chevrolet Suburban

Chevrolet Suburban

The Chevrolet Suburban is a series of automobiles built by the Chevrolet division of General Motors. The name started in 1934 for the 1935 U.S. model year, making it the longest continuously used automobile nameplate in production. It has traditionally been one of General Motors' most profitable vehicles. The 1935 first generation Carryall Suburban was one of the first production all-metal bodied station wagons. It now has a full-size SUV body style and comes with three engine options: a 5.3 liter V8, 6.2 liter V8 or a 3.0-liter inline-6 turbo diesel.

Panel truck

Panel truck

A panel truck in U.S. and Canadian usage is a small delivery truck with a fully enclosed body. It typically is high and has no rear windows in the rear cargo area. The term was first used in the early 1910s. Panel trucks were marketed for contracting, deliveries, and other businesses. Often described as a small van used mostly for delivery rounds, the British equivalent is a "delivery van."

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See also
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