Should I leave the engine on, to listen to that mountain song

The traditional American station wagon is the subject of Wagonmasters, a new documentary about the cultural impact of these road-going behemoths from the pre-SUV era. Now almost entirely displaced by the SUV, CUV and everything in between, the film celebrates the heyday of this vanishing vehicle type, once a symbol of freedom and leisure, sold as a paragon of the American dream and, by and large, American designed and built. The above image of the 1957 Mercury Colony Park 4 Door Hardtop Station Wagon embodies the kind of glamour normally reserved for sports cars and the kind of escapism and vacation imagery that’s now the preserve of the Sports Utility Vehicle. So why did the American station wagon fall from grace? The demand for kid conveyances was gradually taken up by minivans and SUVs, while the ‘glamour’ of the original wagons was killed stone dead by the arrival of the SUV, an archetype that conveyed adventure as well as utility. Many wagon forums live on as the form becomes increasingly rare.

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