Today is, as you likely know, the 3st of July, the day before the, lemme get my calculator, fif– no, fourth of July, which is, for those who aren’t aware, essentially America’s Bastille Day. As such, it’s a big deal holiday, so we’re giving everyone the day off, and today is going to be a bit of a more limited day, with a bit fewer posts. But, we’ll be serving up some of that great, flame-broiled automotive content you crave, because we care, dammit. Starting with this amazing Studebaker Wagonaire ad.
By the way, did you know there is a song called the Third of July and the odd-looking fellow on the cover here is someone I encountered a few times, decades ago? This song, and this guy:
So, this is from that early ’90s time when lots of alternative little bands from the South were taking off. I was in Atlanta at the time, going to a college I couldn’t come close to affording on a grant that was rapidly running out, and while there I would occasionally go with friends to a weird little restaurant off Ponce DeLeon called the Unknown Surfer Cafe, or something like that. The guy on the cover up there, Lefty, he was always there, and sort of acted as wait staff, though I never quite got the impression he actually worked there. He always wore that big leather jacket, too.
Anyway, the Studebaker Wagonaire! What a machine! Studebaker had the brilliant idea to make a wagon with a retractable roof, essentially transforming it from wagon to open-bed pickup truck.
Thee were really clever cars, the idea coming from Brooks Steven’s series of Scimitar (not that Scimitar, another one) concept cars, one of which, the All-Purpose Sedan, which was actually a wagon with a retractable roof. The concept made it to production in the Wagonaire, along with some nice details like a little flip-down step on the tailgate.
If you look at the top image, you can see in the upper right it looks like that dude is trying to put a damn horse into that thing! A horse! Weirdly, horses were strangely present in the Wagonaire Cinematic Universe, as a talking one was employed to extoll the virtues of the Studebaker:
I like the whited-out cargo box effect there. That must have been tedious to do back then!
I love this concept; I know it had a sort of chance at a comeback with the GMC XUV:
…but it never really caught on. Why not? This seems fantastic! I think some daring automaker needs to take at least one more crack at it. It’s just too damn cool.
Anyway, have a fantastic almost-holiday!