Family transporters have gone through plenty of popularity swings over the years. Station wagons used to be the default option for family trips. Based primarily on rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame platforms, they could tow motorhomes or boats, cruise comfortably, and carry kids with their necessary detritus while providing drivers the feel of a normal sedan or muscle car.
They were popular into the 1980s, when Chrysler’s front-wheel-drive minivan seemingly rewrote the book on suburban fashion. Forgive us for ignoring the Volkswagen van for the purpose of this discussion. We’re fans, but it never sold in huge volume.
Minivans have since ceded ground to SUVs and crossovers as the fashion accessory of responsible parents everywhere, although minivans still sell in the hundreds of thousands every year. Meanwhile, wagons have been relegated to niche status with European brands or disguised as pseudo SUVs with body cladding and a bit of added ride height. The days of full-sized wagons essentially ended in 1996, when the GM B-Body (Caprice and Roadmaster) was discontinued.
Which brings us to today’s eBay find. Classic wagons like this 1966 Chevrolet Impala 396 have always promised the rumble of a pre-emissions-restricted V-8, dosed with bit of added practicality. Usually used and abused during their time as “work vehicles,” nice examples are perhaps even rarer than their original production numbers would suggest.
This one is located in Michigan, but the owner claims its first 40 years were spent in California. It appears to be an honest, rust-free, and slightly modified car with only 80,000 miles since new. The seller adds that the factory air conditioning blows cold, and the original wheels and hubcaps are included (although the car now has Torque Thrust rims with new tires. Always a good choice, no?). There are a few mechanical updates, included hardened valve seats, larger pistons, an Edelbrock carburetor, and electronic ignition promising improved reliability.
This isn’t a show car, there a few dings and bruises, but for family fun in a classic vehicle, this looks like a cool option. With that big-block engine, this could even make a fun tow vehicle for a vintage Shasta trailer. Go ahead and lead the charge on bringing wagons back into fashion.