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Robert Swan - a personal station wagon history

July 22, 1998

To: Steve Manning
From: Robert C. Swan

Re: My Ford Station Wagon Collection, A Historical Perspective

robert_swan_wagons.jpg (30340 bytes)
ABOVE: A small part of Bob's wagon collection

Why did I become involved with collecting, preserving and enjoying Station Wagons?

My Mother and Father always had Ford Station Wagons as their primary transportation vehicles - from the 1940’s through the present time. The Ford Station wagon was a mainstay, sort of an institution with my Family.

My Family has lived on the North Shore area of coastal Massachusetts since the 1920's -- and have lived in their present home in Essex, Massachusetts since 1946. The first Ford Station Wagon that my parents owned was a 1946 Ford Station Wagon with the flathead V8.

As a youngster growing up with my family, I can barely remember the 1946 Ford Station Wagon. However, my memories of the "Woody" are terrific!

Over the years my Family owned many Ford Station wagons after the 1946 Ford Station Wagon. The next wagon that my Family owned was a 1950 Ford Station Wagon - a real neat wagon - the two door model. The body color was a light tan/beige with the brown leatherette trim. The early postwar "Woody wagons" were among my favorites --I wish I owned these wagons today!

The next wagon that my Family owned was a 1955 Ford Ranch Wagon, the two door all steel "economy model." The 1955 Ford Ranch Wagon was very basic - being the economy version with no frills - however, it had a lot of character - a real 1950's vehicle. The color was Pinetree Green with Brown interior. I can still remember the "branded steer head vinyl" interior trim -- as a kid I thought it was rather neat! The '55 Ranch Wagon was equipped with the overhead valve 272 V8.

In 1959 my Family purchased a four door Ford Ranch Wagon (a brand new 1959 model). The color was medium blue with blue interior. The 1959 Ford Ranch Wagon was also a "plain jane" model; however it was equipped with the 352 big block V/8 -- the 1959 could really move!

During the 1960's my Family moved up to the Ford Country Squire models - owning several Ford Country Squires during that period. In 1963, my Family purchased a 1963 Ford Fairlane Squire - White exterior with Red interior. The 1963 Ford Fairlane Squire was my favorite. I obtained my driver’s license in 1963 - learning to drive in the '63 Fairlane Squire!

The styling of the 1963 Ford Fairlane Squire was superb! The neat exterior design with the small blade fins enhanced the excellent lines of the vehicle. The engine was the "Challenger" 221 V8.

Today, I will pay any price to find a pristine original 1963 Ford Fairlane Squire wagon!

Following the 1963 Fairlane Squire, my Family purchased a 1966 Ford Country Squire wagon - Dark Blue with Blue interior and 352 V/8 -- a real road machine. I drove that car more than my Family did -- taking it to Campus often, while I was attending College. Over the course of 3 years, I drove the 1966 Ford Country Squire nearly 100,000 miles – and that was in addition to what my parents drove the vehicle!

In 1970 we traded the 1966 Ford Country Squire with over 150,000 miles on the odometer in for a 1970 Ford Country Squire - another Dark Blue with Blue interior vehicle. The 1970 Ford Country Squire had the" 390" V8 -- that vehicle could move! The 1970 Ford Country Squire was the first vehicle that we purchased with Air Conditioning -- it was great!

We kept the 1970 Ford Country Squire until 1973, when we traded up for a new 1973 Ford Country Squire - another great vehicle. The 1973 Ford Country Squire had the 400 V8 - unfortunately, by 1973 the Federal emissions "regs" were strangling the performance of the engine.

In 1976 we traded the 1973 Ford Country Squire in for the 1976 Ford Country Squire - another great wagon. The 1976 Ford Country Squire was a better performing vehicle than the 1973 model. The engine featured electronic ignition and thus performed somewhat better. The 1976 Ford Country Squire was White with Red interior - the "Brougham Interior Option."

In 1981 we traded the 1976 Ford Country Squire in for the 1981 Ford Country Squire - the first generation of the "downsized models" equipped with the 5.0 liter 302 V/8. The color once again was White with Red Interior. The 1981 was my least favorite - it was before fuel injection and was underpowered.

We traded the 1981 Ford Country Squire in 1985 for the 1985 Ford Country Squire LX - with the first generation fuel injection throttle body design. The color combination was Light Blue with Blue interior - my least favorite color choice.

In 1987 we traded the 1985 Ford Country Squire in for the 1987 Ford Country Squire LX - with the multiport sequential fuel injection - a major improvement of engine performance was immediately evident. The 1987 was an excellent car! The color was navy blue with a blue interior.

In 1992, we traded the 1987 Ford Country Squire in for a 1991 model - the last year of manufacture of the full size Ford Country Squire. The 1991 Ford Country Squire LX is an excellent vehicle -- we will keep it forever! The 1991 Ford Country Squire is navy blue with blue interior, fully equipped, including the heavy duty trailer towing suspension package. The odometer has just passed 80,000 miles.

Over the years, prior to my collecting vintage Station Wagons, I drove numerous Ford Motor Co. products, mostly Lincolns and Mercurys. Great cars, but lacking the character of Station Wagons. I purchased my own first car in 1967 - a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 2-door hardtop with the 289 V8.

I began building my own collection of vintage Ford wagons back in 1987 - my first collector Ford Station Wagon was a very well used 1963 Ford Fairlane Squire that an old family friend offered to me from an estate sale out of Duxbury, Massachusetts. The price was right - FREE!

The 1963 Ford Fairlane Squire was a condition number 4 or 5 - it needed a lot of work and was quite rusty. I kept the 1963 Fairlane Squire about three years, tinkering and trying to upgrade the vehicle with minimal success. Despite the overall deteriorated condition of the '63 Fairlane Squire, I received great enjoyment and pleasure from the vehicle - owning it was a great learning experience. I drove the ‘63 Fairlane Squire over 25,000 miles during the time I owned the vehicle. I did considerable research - and learning - about owning and preserving collector vehicles.

I decided that my niche in the Antique Collector Car hobby would, appropriately, be Ford Station Wagons.

My specialty, and my favorite vehicle, is the Ford Country Squire model. The specific reasons that I decided to focus on and to collect Ford Station Wagons are:

* The Station Wagon is a part of Americana. It was and still is quintessential to our American automotive culture and institution.

* The Station Wagon had been long "ignored" by most antique/classic automobile collectors. I think (and I still do believe) that the Station Wagon deserved to be recognized in the old car hobby.

* The Station Wagon is a real "sleeper" in the antique/classic collector car hobby -- it has, is, and will become a hot commodity in the hobby for purposes of investment and enjoyment.

* It is a superb way to drive an antique/classic collector vehicle that is practical, can involve the whole fami1y, and reflects a great period of American History.

Over the years, I have owned a number of Ford Station Wagons - some that I have since sold and several that I still have, along with several new additions in my collection.

At the present, I have seven Ford Station Wagons in my antique/classic automobile collection. I expect to continue to expand my collection, adding one to two vintage Ford Station Wagons each year.

I will continue to focus on collecting the Ford Country Squire Station Wagon --1950's thru 1970's vintage. I would like to purchase a pristine 1991 Ford Country Squire to "put away" in my collection -- the 1991 model was the last year of manufacture for the traditional Ford Country Squire Station Wagon.

I also expect to be adding superb original "non-woody" vintage Ford Station Wagons to my collection in the future. Factory originality is crucial.

At the present my Ford Station Wagon collection consists of:

1956 Ford Country Sedan wagon
1958 Ford Country Sedan wagon
1963 Ford Country Squire wagon
1967 Ford Country Squire wagon
1968 Ford Torino Squire wagon
1973 Ford Country Squire wagon
1991 Ford Country Squire wagon (driven daily by my parents)

Please visit "The Gallery" contained within the Station Wagon webpage - all of my Ford Station Wagons are photo featured -- a special thank you to Steve Manning, the editor and author of the Station Wagon webpage.

Thank you for allowing me to share my Family Station Wagon history - along with my own Station Wagon collection philosophy and history with all of you.

I look forward to becoming involved and active with ASWOA - The American Station Wagon Owners Association.

Robert C. Swan

Copyright © 1997-1998 Steve Manning. All Rights Reserved
Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
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