Stylish wagons seem to be making a comeback, with longroof models popping up from brands who previously were laser focused on sports cars or sedans. The humble roots of the station wagon design trace back many years, when it was purely a function over form proposition. The 1950 Plymouth Suburban is a prime example of that ethos—and also the latest feature on Jay Leno’s Garage.
In the 1950s, a two-door wagon of this kind likely would have been owned by a tradesman, which is why the Suburban Jay features was advertised as having so much utility. Or maybe it’s because it lacked the performance for any bragging rights. The paltry 97 horses under the hood are routed through a three-speed manual, so this longroof certainly isn’t speedy. According to Jay, period advertisements told of the ease of cleanup for the interior. Just soap and sponge, then rinse with a garden hose. Makes you think the modern Jeep Wrangler is nothing new or special by comparison.
As Jay walks around the car he points out a handful of period accessories, our favorite is for sure the rear window stoplight. A modern third brake light can’t hold a candle to the stylish three bulb add-on mounted on the glass. Wheel skirts will also likely never make a comeback, but looking at this wagon, we wish they would.
Jay takes the wagon out for a spin, working the column-shifted three speed to keep up with traffic. While driving he even admits that he feels as though he is driving his dad's car, not his car. But the originality of the two-door appeals to him; modern improvements would only muddy its purpose.
He’ll just enjoy driving it as is. As for us, we’re just happy the well-kept Plymouth is still on the road collecting miles and spreading good old-car cheer.