Today, most family haulers are silver silvermist or beige beigemist crossovers. But 45 plus years ago, things were different.
Yes, in 1971 Ford was Wagon King. Sure, GM sold tons of wagons too, but despite their being all new, not everyone was sure about GM’s new disappearing tailgate, where it retracted behind the rear bumper instead of folding down. Though GM still trounced FoMoCo in overall production.
Chrysler Corporation and even plucky little AMC in Kenosha had a range of full size wagons as well, (the woody AMC Ambassador wagon in particular is a favorite of your author’s) but the lion’s share of longroofs in the ’70s were GM and Ford.
And Ford’s “Magic Doorgate,” which both opened from the side and folded down, was a hit.
While all 1971 Fords were restyled and touted as all new, there was still a lot of 1969-70 Ford beneath the new nose and sheetmetal.
All rode a 121 inch wheelbase. The cheapest full-size Ford station wagon was the Custom Ranch Wagon, which weighed 4,222 pounds, had a price of $3,890 and sold 16,696 copies. But of course it was the Plain Jane version, with minimal chrome, minimal trim and taxicab-style interior.
But at the opposite end of the spectrum was the darling of the suburban set, the Country Squire.
Known by its trademark wood vinyl side moldings and trim, the two-seat model weighed 4,306 pounds and sold for $4,380. The three seat Country Squire sold for $4,496.
Production of both the two and three seat Country Squires amounted to 130,644 units. That’s a lot of Di-Noc woodgrain! The Country Squires were also the most expensive of the full sized Fords, with the top trim LTD Brougham coupe retailing for $3,945 and the hardtop sedan for $4,140.
Available engines included 351, 400, and 429 CID V8s. And while a lot of us have a lot of affection for these classical land yachts, most of these Country Squires were traded for a new one by the mid-’70s, had the bark beaten off of them by the third, fourth and fifth owners, and were crushed by the early ’80s, if not earlier. They were also notorious rusters. So spotting any 1971-1972 Ford is a rarity in 2019, even at car shows. Naturally, I perked up when I saw this survivor in a CL ad last week, and had to write it up. The link is below, for any interested parties:
No one can argue that new cars aren’t safer, last longer, and burn less carbonized dinosaurs, but darn it, these Nimitz-class Ford wagons had some style.