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Ford Country Squire station wagon

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Ford Country Squire station wagon
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Jeff Tinsley, Negative #: 2003-32647

IN CONTEXT

This object appears in the following sections:


Technology
Smithsonian Automobile Collection — Car collection, 1950-1969

City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s
City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s — Moving In

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Ford Country Squire station wagon
Catalog #: 1989.0211.01, Accession #: 1989.0211
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
George and Nancy Harder, then of Pasadena, Calif., purchased this station wagon in February 1955 for $3,600. During their ownership, Nancy drove the car on countless trips to schools, doctors, and other places with the couple's five children. On family outings, the cargo area was filled with picnic baskets, rubber rafts, beach towels, skis, hula hoops, tricycles, radios, and, of course, the family dog. On vacation trips to national parks, this area served as a playpen. When the children were older, they learned to drive in this car, and George taught them to wash and polish the exterior and vacuum the upholstery. After the children were grown, George used the station wagon to commute to work and haul materials for do-it-yourself projects. It also served as local transportation for the children-now drivers themselves-when they came home from college. The Harders donated the car to the Smithsonian in 1989.
Physical Description
Ford Country Squire, eight-passenger station wagon. Assembled Feb. 4, 1955, in Long Beach, Calif. Body 79C, color F (Pine Tree green), trim AL (turquoise), with mahogany-grain-finished imitation-wood panels framed with wood-grained glass-fibre moldings. V-8 engine and Fordomatic automatic transmission. Windshield is a replacement from a 1956 Ford because the original was badly cracked. Some other routine replacement parts and minor restoration work done, otherwise in original, well-kept condition. Driven about 167,000 miles. 17'L x 6'W x 5'5"H
Details
Date Made:
1955
Dates Used:
1955 - about 1980
Locations:
California
Note:
Region where automobile was used.
Credit:
Gift of George and Nancy Harder
History

Station wagons were primarily family cars, but they evolved from commercial vehicles. In the 1920s, manufacturers designed motorized depot hacks-tall, open vehicles that carried people and cargo-that were patterned after horse-drawn delivery wagons. By the 1930s, enclosed "woody" wagons were more car-like and could be found at country estates, country clubs, inns, private schools, and other rustic, upper-class settings. The station wagon of the late 1940s was still a boxy, limited-production, wooden-body vehicle with seats that could be removed or inserted to carry small groups of people, luggage, recreational equipment, or cargo. But strong demand for used "woodies" among postwar, middle-class families alerted automobile manufacturers to a larger market for this type of vehicle. The redesigned station wagon of the 1950s became a staple of America's suburban landscape and an important adjunct to the suburban home. The introduction of all-steel bodies eliminated laborious refinishing and waxing of wooden panels, and sales soared. Sedan-type styling made the station wagon look at home in the driveways of suburbia. The use of imitation wood-grain siding and trim perpetuated the station wagon's rural, elitist image. Suburban families found countless utilitarian and recreational uses for their station wagons-taking children to school, picking up lawn and garden supplies, carrying home-project materials, and enjoying day trips and vacations. The station wagon became a symbol of family activity, unity, and intimacy in the outdoors. Today minivans serve the purposes that station wagons once served.

Related People, Places, and Events
Manufacturer
Ford Motor Company

User
Harder, George and Nancy


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