Welcome back to our Throwback series! Today’s Throwback: The Ford Country Squire. Ford had been making station wagons under the Country Squire nameplate since 1950, usually as a top of the line trim to its full size car. The 1979-1991 models are unique; they are the last of the “boats” to set sail from the port known as Ford’s station wagon market. Or, in less of an analogy, the last full size station wagons made by Ford.
Ford’s Country Squire nameplate had a very rich history. It was first used on the iconic woody wagons of the 50s, then escalated to the top of the range full size wagon models by the early 60s. In fact, this name is associated with some of the most luxurious and large vehicles offered in the 1960s-1970s. Classic design traits of the Country Squire helped it to stand out from LTD and Galaxy models such as the classic woodgrain sides, upgraded interior, more powerful engines, and usually luggage on the roof with loads of kids in the back. One trait that everyone certainly remembers about classic wagons are the third-row seats, or as many affectionately called them, “the way back”.
Back in the 1960s, Ford wagons dominated America’s roads, in ways that are similar to today’s best selling Explorer. Some wagons back then could even be ordered with Cobra Jet 428 cubic inch V8 engines and four-speed transmissions. Yes they came with hood scoops, and yes they had woodgrain too. Sounds like the predecessor to the 2016 Explorer Sport if you ask us. As markets began to change, the cars got bigger and better. The late 1950s wagons helped to innovate vehicle safety by offering an optional “Lifeguard” package, which marked the beginning of Ford’s in car safety features. Other cool features that were offered in Country Squire wagons were the various tailgate designs over the years. What originally started as a pull down tailgate soon evolved into one with a self storing window, and then by 1966 changed to the “Magic Doorgate”. This system allowed the tailgate to be folded down like the traditional design, but then opened like a normal swinging door. This feature was copied and is still in use by certain vehicles today.
By the mid 1970s, the Country Squire became a range-topping trim on the Ford LTD. The 1970s strict safety regulations made the LTD Country Squires some of the largest cars on the road at an enormous 225.7” length. The motors began to decrease in size from the mighty 429 V8 to the standard detuned 400 cu-in V8,due to stricter emissions requirements, and to soften the blow of the gas crisis.
By the 1980s the Country Squire was competing with a new breed of vehicle, the minivan. For the first time it had a competitor that provided similar cargo space with a smaller length. Even Ford’s own Aerostar was a competitor! For 1979, the Country Squire was shortened 11 inches, and shed almost 1000 lbs compared to the 1978 models to adapt to the changing market. But these wagons still provided powerful V8 engines, 8-passenger seating, and the classic woodgrain sides. The Crown Victoria line was redesigned for the 1992 model year, but it didn’t include a full-size wagon variant. The Taurus kept a wagon in Ford’s lineup, but it was a midsize offering. Thus 1991 marks the end of Ford’s full size wagon.
A good condition Country Squire is becoming collectable as they are harder to find these days and still stand out from vehicles on the road today. They’ve even been stars in film too, just watch the National Lampoon’s Family Vacation and see for yourself! We remember these lovely land yachts fondly, whether it’s from a family road trip, or just from seeing one in a neighbors driveway years back. The Country Squire will always have a spot in our Ford Addicted hearts.