Remember the station wagon? For a long time it was the perfect familymobile, with room for the kids and space in back for the new barbecue. It was the perfect icon of the American suburbs, but served faithfully on Route 66. The station wagon was America.
Over the years things changed, technology advanced, and the minivan rose to replace the station wagon. That made sense; the minivan performed the same functions and did a better job doing it. But America was getting richer and people wanted sport as well as utility. The auto manufacturers were happy to supply the illusion of sport to the power-hungry yuppies. Take a minivan, add larger tires and an engine that produces more power than you will ever need, and you have an SUV. (At the time, SUV meant ‘minivan with bad mileage’.) In fact, more power was not a requirement. All that was necessary was larger, more expensive and less efficient tires. Suddenly, you’re cool.
Let me deflect some folks by pointing out that some SUV’s aren’t macho minivans but rather relabled trucks. Why? They are trucks and they do a truck’s job. All utility.
Gradually, the SUV market has gone two directions. One we will call the Hummer Vector. Vehicles so impractical that people buy them just to prove that they are too damn wealthy to be encumbered by issues like precticality. The other direction I will dub the Station Wagon Vector. It’s been going on a long time, and apparently now the vehicles on this path have ditched the stigma of being SUV’s in favor of being ‘crossovers’.
We will ignore that Sport/Utility was itself a crossover…
No we won’t. Crossover from what? And to what? Utility/Sport-Utility? What is being crossed over?
Here’s my challenge to the marketing boys in the auto companies. Embrace the station wagon. Those guys buying cars, they’ve forgotten how much they hated sharing the back seat with thier sisters, and the road has regained a romantic aura. Those great road trips of their childhoods were in station wagons. The car that tamed the west.
I personally guarantee that if Ford or Chevy came out with a really good station wagon, with somewhat retro styling and the same name they used in the sixties, it would sell like hotcakes. Call it a station wagon, and use the power of nostalgia to sell it. Before too long, people will realize that the car makes sense on its own terms, and our dalliance with silly cars not well-suited for any practical use will come to an end.
Then in a few years you can reestablish the minivan as all retro and cool.