Bring Back the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon, Please!
Station wagons have a reputation for being about the most uncool car in the world among the younger generation but that wasn’t always the case. Those of us who grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s more than likely drove the family station wagon (affectionately referred to as the “draggin’ wagon”) which for all intents and purposes was a movable party mobile with a V8 engine.
18 feet long, nearly 7 feet wide, and 5 feet tall, the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon could not only turn into a love nest for randy adolescents but could also comfortably seat 9 crazed teens, a cooler, and all the beach paraphernalia needed for a trip to the Jersey shore. With simulated wood grain panels (vinyl) on the side and back, the station wagon wasn’t exactly a teen’s dream car but the vehicle had many great attributes: roomy, fast, and indistinguishable from the other 40 station wagons parked in the high school parking lot. Life was good but all good things seem to come to an end.
By the mid-1990’s when we were all in our 30’s, somewhat responsible, sleep deprived, and knee-deep in parental duties, the decision makers at GM decided the era of the station wagon was over and replaced it with the SUV. With better gas mileage, air bags, and built in televisions, we had everything we needed to get through the toddler, primary, and high school years. But, something was missing. Size matters and although the Buick Roadmaster Estate Station Wagon never hit the length of the Lincoln Continental (19 feet in 1958), it sure came close. Most SUV’s span about 16 feet in length and have a more boxy shape as opposed to the long, sleek look of the Buick station wagon.
Of course, there are other station wagons: the Suburu, lovingly embraced by environmentalists from Vermont or New Hampshire, the Volkswagon for the young milleniums with kids, the Volvo for middle-aged suburbanites who value safety features, the BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and Cadillac for those who want a pricy wagon that looks like a sedan from the front; the Audi and Acura for the cool people who don’t really want to drive a station wagon, and the Toyota Prius for fans who actually drive 55 mph on the highway – all of which don’t have a roomy back seat or the spaciousness of the Buick Roadmaster Estate Station Wagon.
As I pack my SUV this week with kennels, dog and cat food, suitcases, groceries, and more, I long for the classic spacious station wagon – but with air bags. I can forgo all the bells and whistles: the Bluetooth (I am the rare bird who doesn’t answer the phone while driving), the backup camera (the wagon sits low enough to see out the back window), the heated seats (I live in Florida), and the factory installed GPS (Radio Shack still sells portable Garmin GPS units). I don’t even need the V8 engine and would happily settle for a V6 but a V4 is out of the question (I don’t want to suffer the humiliation of having a Smart car race past me).
So, please GM…hear me Mary Barra….you’re one of us; steer GM back to what the company was good at by bringing back the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon, please!