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Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

1950 Plymouth Deluxe Suburban: The Classic Family Car

August 7, 2019 Innovation Impact

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1950 Plymouth Deluxe Suburban Station Wagon. THF90908

The earliest station wagons hauled travelers and luggage between train stations and hotels. Wagons remained low-production specialty vehicles until the 1950s, when parents embraced them as ideal vehicles for transporting growing families. Packed with children, groceries, camping gear, or luggage, station wagons became the very symbol of the family car.

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Durant Motor Company, "The New Star Car," 1924. THF105552

Star, made by Durant Motor Company, became the first manufacturer-produced station wagon in 1923. Early wagons, also known as depot hacks, were utility vehicles, and not very family-friendly.

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"The New All-Metal Plymouth Suburban, the Car with 101 Uses," Chrysler Corporation Plymouth Division, 1949. THF105554


By 1949, when the Plymouth Suburban was introduced, families were growing and suburbs expanding. The utility of the modern Suburban appealed to parents, and the first all-steel body was a major upgrade from older wood-body wagons.

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1957 Ford Station Wagon Ad, "Nine's Fine!" THF105560


By 1957, all wagons had steel bodies. But designers applied wood—or fake wood—to “woody” wagons for many years.

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1961 Chevrolet Catalog, "There's a Chevy Wagon for Every Purpose, Every Family!" THF105556

Even compact cars like the Chevy Corvair had wagon versions. This 1961 Chevy sales brochure touted its rear-engine Corvair Lakewood, with storage in front and back.

 

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