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wagons......in the news
- December 8, 1997 - Well, even more Audi wagon news....the
12/8/97 issue of Autoweek
details the launch of the new Audi
A6 Avant wagon, which will be launched at the Geneva show
in March (and for sale in the US in July, 1998). Initially available
with the 198hp, 2.8 litre 30-valve V6 engine, an S6 version (with
a 340hp, 4.2 litre 48-valve V8) will be available sometime later
in 1998. Now a quick drive in that would keep the kids awake,
huh? In the same article it is also reported that Audi will release
a 'lifestyle off-roader' version to compete with the Volvo V70
XC AWD (see the September 1 entry in this section). This continues
the trend of trying to merge a sedan with an SUV, and coming
up with a station wagon!
- December 3, 1997 - The super-wagons
are here! The super-wagons are here! Well, sort of - the USA
only gets one for now. For automotive as well as wagon enthusiasts,
the good news is that there are now station wagon versions of
three very potent sports sedans - the Mercedes-Benz
C43, the Audi
S4 Avant, and the Volvo
V70 AWD R (the only one available in the USA). The C43 is
an AMG tuned C-series, with a twin-spark, 24-valve 4.3liter V8
w/306hp at 5800rpm. The S4 Avant is a tuned A4, sporting a 2.7
liter, 30v twin-turbo V6 with 265hp and quattro all-wheel drive.
Finally, the V70 AWD R is described by Volvo as an all-wheel
drive 'sportswagon', with a transverse mounted 2.3liter, 5 cylinder
DOHC 20v engine with 236hp at 5100rpm. Why buy the sedan when
you can get the wagon?
- Any of these three wagons would be a hoot
to drive - kudos to the manufacturers for having the guts to
produce them; boos and hisses to Audi and Mercedes for not bringing
them to the USA. I prefer AWD, so I'd take the Volvo or Audi
(and they are both considerably cheaper to buy than the Mercedes).
If anyone out there buys one of these cars, take car of it....it
may be mine in 10 years or so!
- November 21, 1997 - Today's edition
of the Calgary
Herald newspaper, in the 'It's Mine' column, features a white
1977 Pontiac Safari station wagon that John Raleigh built up
into a dragster/street car. Equipped with a 355 Chevy with a
nitrous oxide boost, he's managed to hit 12.7/105 in the quarter
mile. It's a family project....he got the car from his father,
and his wife races a Mustang.
- November 19, 1997 - The 32nd Tokyo
Motor Show exposed a definite trend: the station wagon influence.
Station wagon design is having an influence on both minivans
and SUV's. The Nissan Stylish 6 is, according to Nissan, their
'new wagon proposal for the future'. What it also is is an attempt
to combine the size of a station wagon with the room and styling
of an SUV. The Exiga was Subaru's take on the objectives of the
Stylish 6 (and to my eyes more successful). On the other hand,
the Mazda MP-X represented the minivan/station wagon cross (it
kind of looks like a mini-minivan, or a station wagon with a
high roofline). These were show cars, but there was also a new
production wagon - the Opel City Trekker, which looks somewhat
like a larger, more sophisticated Subaru Outback. Of course,
it won't be available in the USA.
- November 18, 1997 - The December '97
issue of Cars &
Parts magazine features a 1957 Rambler Cross Country
Custom wagon (subtitled 'Economy with Style'). Very '50's (two-tone
paint, lots of chrome), very square. Very cool. Although I wish
it had a V-8 instead of the 195ci six cylinder......
- The December '97 issue of Special
Interest Autos magazine features "The Might-Have-Been
'Bird" - the Vista-Bird. It's a 1962 Ford Thunderbird mated
to a 1965 Oldsmobile Vista-Cruiser station wagon roof. It wasn't
created by Ford, but by a guy in the 1980's who owned a body
shop (he put over 400 hours into the conversion). To my eyes
it is a successful, well-integrated conversion. Ford should have
- October 17, 1997 - The December issue
of Mopar Collector's Guide
has an article (page 4) on a 1961 Chrysler Newport Town &
Country Wagon. Aluminum tubing in the luggage rack, slanted
quad headlights, fins, dual air conditioning, and powered by
a '70 383...only 1,571 examples of this wagon were ever made.
I want one.
- October, 1997 - Saab
is planning on introducing a wagon version of its new 9-5 sedan,
to better compete with Volvo.
It also will help to console Saab fanatics who are upset with
the fact that there will not be a 5-door hatchback version of
the 9-5 (a Saab tradition). Interestingly, the wagon is
not necessarily intended to have more room than the sedan, just
better access to the stuff you put in the back.
- September, 1997 - In a surprise move,
the small-wagon market with the Esteem wagon (a small wagon,
but the biggest car Suzuki sells in the US). Not bad looking,
and priced from around $12,500-$16,000. There are rumors there
will be a four-wheel-drive version in 1998 (hopefully with more
guts than the current 95hp 1.6 liter four cylinder).
- September 8, 1997 - Three cheers for
Audi! While others are killing
off their wagons, Audi is introducing a new one - the 1998 A4
Avant sport wagon. Only one engine is available (a 190hp 2.8
30-valve V6), but it is available with two 5-speeds (manual &
automatic), and in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel-drive
- September 1, 1997 - Volvo
facelifts its 850 wagons and starts calling them the 'V' series.
Luckily, they still have the 'R' version (turbo w/236hp in US
version) and an all-wheel-drive option. They are also making
a bid for the SUV market with the V70 XC (the XC stands for 'cross
country'). It has side cladding, more ground clearance, different
tires, and a more aggressive appearance than the other wagons.
Hmm...not so sure about this concept....(and by the way, I don't
count the Subaru Forester
as a station wagon).
- August, 1997 - High
Performance Pontiac Magazine
Brock's 1979 Pontiac LeMans wagon (page 28). How about a
street legal wagon that runs consistent 13.50s@99 mph, idles
at 700 rpm, and has air conditioning and cruise control?
- August 19, 1997 - Another one bites
the dust....the last 1997 Honda
Accord wagons roll off the assembly line to make way for the
1998 models. However, there is no 1998 Accord wagon. It is being
replaced by....a minivan, of course. Sigh.
- July, 1997 - Car
Craft magazine (p. 86); 'Ultimate
Wagon': an Impala SS wagon built by some staff at the GM Desert
Proving Ground (5.7L Corvette LT1 engine). Includes information
on how you can duplicate it yourself! Someone will, hopefully
- July 17, 1997 - Old
Cars magazine does a front-page
feature on the 'Wonderful World of Wagons'. Includes numerous
wagon stories, history, etc.
- June 6, 1997 - 1955 Ford wagon featured
in Smithsonian exhibit, 'The
Family Car' (through September 1, 1997).
Copyright © 1997-1998 Steve
Manning. All Rights Reserved
Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
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