Mystery Car 95 is one of my favorite old time looks. It combines the hauling attributes of a wagon with the good looks of real wood exterior paneling. There is something special about that look that keeps returning year after year. Even Pastor Ashbrook’s PT Cruiser has the wood paneling decals on the side. I guess people like that. But that trend from over 60 years ago wouldn’t have continued if it weren’t for the Ford Country Squire of the 1950’s.
Long before the minivan was a twinkle in any Detroit product planner’s eye, the Ford Country Squire established itself as the archetype of a new kind of status symbol. Perhaps no other name was as synonymous with that chariot of “baby boom” suburbia, the station wagon. The Country Squire reached this level of fame by the curious trick of making a seeming virtue of the very thing that had previously held down wagon sales: the expensive, maintenance-intensive wood body. At the start of the 1950s, automakers were rushing all-steel station wagons to market, cars without so much as a matchstick’s worth of wood on them as a clear signal to customers that “all that” was a thing of the past. Ford, too, was preparing to embrace the new trend. But just as the last of the genuine “woodies” was about to depart the scene, Ford brought out a wagon decorated with big swatches of simulated wood. Reserved for its plushest and most-expensive hauler, the look preserved the old image of the wagon as plaything for the leisure class but with no loss of modern convenience. Plus, Ford kept at it year after year.