Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wood Panelled Consciousness

I went for a jog around the neighborhood on Sunday. For whatever reason, I was taking notice of all the different cars parked along the way. On one particular block there was an uncanny assortment of vehicles. Back to back were a Smart Car and one of those obnoxious tractor trailer wannabe things. Further down there was a Mini Cooper and a Honda Insight. As well as a Yukon and a Jeep Wrangler.

Then I saw it. A filthy, 1989 Buick Century station wagon with wood panelling. For all it’s ugliness, the context of the rest of the block demonstrated beautiful possibilities. If Detroit can put Hybrid technology in an Escape and an Escalade, why not a LeSabre Estate? Outfit it with the latest eco-friendly technology and style it like an updated Wagon Queen Family Truckster (Down to the Metalic Pea paint job). I’d line up to buy one. What could convey the idea of an environmentally geared product better than wood panelling?

Despite the turn from trucks and minivans, people still need family cars. They can put out all the “crossover” vehicles they want. But we know an SUV when we see one. The time is right for a return to the station wagon. I realize that government fuel economy standards killed the wagon and paved the way for the SUV. But it seems like all parties are primed for reconfiguring all that and ready to invest in a combination of new and classic thinking.

In this particular era it would appear much more gentlemanly than a sports car or a Hummer. And would be more practical for the guy who occasionally needs to transport kids, dogs and luggage than the supped up golf carts in vogue lately. Not to mention the manly men who need to haul lumber, camping, fishing, golfing, hunting, biking equipment but don't need it to be 4 feet off the ground as to traverse rugged mountainsides with it.

I just read on CNNMoney.com that Chrysler is planning on discontinuing the PT Cruiser, Dodge Magnum and Pacifica. (as well as the Hummer) In my opinion these offerings from Chrylser are their closest cousins to a station wagon. It makes me wonder of they've concluded that people don't want anything close to a station wagon or if their planning on clearing the way for an actual station wagon to replace all three the same way Ford did with the Taurus. On my way to work this morning, I saw a Magnum and thought that if it wasn't a psuedo muscle car, I'd totally want one. As for the PT Cruiser and Pacifica, good riddance.

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