Showdown: Awesome Oddball Yank-tank Wagons

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In our last Showdown, the “Strip Teaser” Fleetmaster managed to collect the lions share of your $1 bills votes, proving you’d all rather get down and dirty old-school style than classy like Bel Air. Today we’re featuring two wagons loaded with far-out technology for their day.

Prior to the universal recognition of disk brakes as the preferred stopping mechanism, Pontiac was doing all they could with front drums. The big problem with drums is their tendency to heat soak and fade over extended braking sessions like a stop from very high speed or repeated stops (think windy mountain road). Pontiac’s solution was to use finned aluminum drums (with iron liners) and a wide-eight lug pattern to dissipate as much heat as possible. The result? I dunno, never used them. But what we do know is that the technology didn’t stick, so parts are nearly impossible to find for the wide-in-a-skinny world 8 lug assemblies. Wanna talk about not catching on? Here’s a station wagon with a weird roof from a dead brand. The Studebaker Wagonaire features a slide-forward roof, addressing the major problem with station wagons: the inability to transport palm trees upright. Wait, not many people want to do that with their wagons? Hmmm…

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Today’s ’66 Catalina epitomizes the “rough but runs great” wagons that are dear to our hearts. It sports a 421ci V8, power steering power brakes and (non-functional) AC. The exterior’s rough, but only has a couple of serious rust spots. The interior’s…well…rougher than the exterior. It’s sitting at $2650 with the reserve already met, but there’s 4 days to go on the auction. Seems like a great chance to get in on a super-rare collectible example that could also be a great workhorse.

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Compared to the Poncho, this ’65 Wagonaire trades a killer horsepower/dollar metric for much better condition and seriously low miles: only 43k. While nowhere near perfect, it’s still orders of magnitude nicer inside and out. In ’65 Studebaker had switched to GM-sourced engines, so for better or worse this one sports a 283 small block backed up by the 3 on the tree. Maybe it loses some caché to a Stude’ engine, but at least you can find parts for it. Fun fact: Brooks Stevens designed both this and the Willys/Kaiser/Jeep Wagoneer. Maybe it’s just the classic 2-box wagon shape of the day, but we’re kinda seeing some similar lines between the -eer and the -aire. Bidding’s a bit over $3,500 with an unmet reserve. Buy-it-now’s $10,700.

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