1970 Pontiac Station Wagon


There are a plethora of stories embedded in every car. Whether it’s the thinking behind the design or our personal tales of our relationship to the car, memories and histories are the substance of a fascinating narrative.

One of the more exciting cars that my family owned when I was growing up was the 1970 Pontiac station wagon. My  uncle Vernon had  a station wagon and it was a favourite activity to be allowed to rattle around in the back of that wagon on family visits. So when my Dad brought home a big green station wagon my sister, brother and me were thrilled. Our huge green wagon was no disappointment with an automated rear tailgate and even a rumble seat that allowed us to sit backwards and look out the rear window!

Station wagons back then were the equivalent of our mini vans: a domesticated utility vehicle. Like a contractor’s truck for carrying their tools, the station wagon is the workhorse of the suburbs and families, carrying kids and stuff. Not the most beautiful cars that were every built, but with a lot of cargo capacity to be sure.

The allure of the station wagon was based on its cargo capacity and mobility. This was a generation of cars that not just promised to get you somewhere, but also with the ability to bring a lot of stuff with you. Car camping and the family vacation were the dreams of this vehicle. The station wagon’s position in the suburb was a form of latent desire to escape to nature.

The expansion of freeways across North American induced a desire to go anywhere. The freeways paradoxically both transformed the landscape and gave us access to remote areas that for generations where inaccessible. The promise of the post war industrial culture was a well-paid job and leisure time and the station wagon was a symbol of this promise.

My Dad had 3 weeks off every summer, which was a real treat. We would go away camping often and it was a journey we looked forward to all year. We would carry a little sailboat on roof racks on the top, pull a small aluminum boat on a trailer, packed with camping equipment and fill the station wagon to its roof with our personal possessions. Essentially we carried a smaller more compact version of our home and take this on the road.

One of my fondest memories was when we were going on vacation and we packed up the station wagon the night before my Dad’s last day at work. My Mom would drive the car from Hamilton to Oakville and park it on the side of the highway beside the Ford plant. When my Dad was done his shift, he ran across the field and hopped the fence and we started our summer camping vacation. It was a beautiful thing.

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