The Studebaker Wagonaire wis a station wagon produced bi the Studebaker Corporation o Sooth Bend, Indiana, frae 1963-1966. The wagon featured a retractable slidin rear ruif section that alloued the vehicle tae carry items that woud itherwise be too tall for a staundart caur o the era.
Studebaker Wagonaire's unique ruif wis the invention o industrial designer Brooks Stevens, who wis chairged bi the company's preses Sherwood Egbert tae find as mony ways possible tae expand the company's limited model range athoot spendin vast amounts o caipital on retoolin. Ironically, Stevens wis an aa the designer o the Kaiser Jeep Wagoneer, a truck based SUV that remained in production till the 1990s.
The Wagonaire, which wis inspired bi Stevens' German-built 1959 Scimitar concept caur, wis based on the standard Studebaker Lark station wagon body, which wis suitably modified abuin the beltline. Wha made the caur unique wis the ruif ower the cargo bay, which manually retractit intae an then lockt intae position in the forward section o the roof abuin the rear passenger's seat. This unique configuration alloued Studebaker tae boast that the Wagonaire coud transport items (such as standard size refrigerators) in an upright position.
Wagonaires seatit sax passengers (five wi the optional front bucket seats), an coud seat aicht when equipt wi a rear-facin third-row seat, which wis available as an option through 1965. When the third seat wis ordered, the caurs wur fitted wi special "Captive-Air" (puncture-resistant) tires, as the additional seat tuik up the space required for a spare tire an wheel.
Unfortunately for Studebaker, early buyers soon foond that their new wagons' roofs leakt water near the front o the slidin section. This problem wis addresst — wi limited success — bi the factory. As a result o the leak problem, fixt-roof station wagons wur rusht intae production alangside the Wagonaire an became available in Januar 1963. These sold for US$100 less than the slidin-roof wagons, but it wis technically a "delete option", meanin that if the buyer wantit the fixt roof versus the slider, it haed tae be specifically ordered that way bi the sellin dealer an wis no a separate model.
When Studebaker closed its Sooth Bend, Indiana, assembly plant an continued production at its Hamilton, Ontariae, Canadae, plant, the company eliminatit its "halo" models, the Avanti an Hawk, but continued tae build Lark-based sedans an Wagonaires.
The 1964 models, which wur built ae in Canadae efter December 1963, wur the last tae carry Studebaker's awn engines. Beginnin wi the 1965 models, General Motors supplied ingines based on the Chevrolet sax-cylinder an V8 designs. The 1965 models wur available ae wi the slidin ruif.
The fixed-roof option made a return for Studebaker's final model year in 1966, but the third seat was no longer offered. In addition, the '66 Wagonaire finally was made a model in its own right, blending the exterior features of the Commander with the interior trim grade of the sporty Daytona. Only 940 Wagonaires were built for '66, making any fixed-roof model rare.
Matchbox-Lesney made a miniature Wagonaire, complete wi a slidin ruif section, which wis sauld for mony years efter Studebaker stopt production. Husky an aa manufactured a Wagonaire similar in size tae the Matchbox product.
A hie-performance station wagon?[eedit | eedit soorce]
The 1963-64 Daytona version o the Wagonaire coud be considered the forebear o the current "pocket-rocket wagon" fad. When equipped wi a V8, Carter 4-barrel carburetor, an a column mountit shifter manual transmission wi owerdrive, the Wagonaire coud hold its awn against several makes o "muscle caurs" frae the era. Interestingly, frae its earliest days on the market, the Wagonaire coud be ordered wi ony o Studebaker's available "R-series" hie-performance Avanti V8 ingines an the fower-speed floor-shift manual transmission. Few (if ony) wur ordered wi such hie-performance equipment, houiver.
Short-lived revival o the concept[eedit | eedit soorce]
The concept o the retractable roof wis pickt up bi automaker General Motors for a model in its GMC Envoy line in 2003 as a 2004 model. Ads for the new Envoy XUV incorrectly toutit the feature as "first iver". Ane feature that GMC did adopt that Studebaker niver did wis pouer operation o the roof section.
Houiver, the Envoy XUV wis nae mair popular than the Wagonaire haed been, an GMC discontinued the model in 2005.
References[eedit | eedit soorce]
- Maloney, James H. (1994). Studebaker Cars. Crestline Books. ISBN 0-87938-884-6.
- Langworth, Richard (1979). Studebaker, the Postwar Years. Motorbooks International. ISBN 0-87938-058-6.
- Gunnell, John, Editor (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Kraus Publications. ISBN 0-87341-096-3.
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