Cruisin’ Like It’s 1959: Wagon Style
Let’s Go For A Cruise

Have you ever experienced the euphoria of sitting behind the wheel of a massive, classic American car, pointing it down the road and mashing the throttle?

No? Well then, let’s take a ride.


This 1959 Chevrolet Parkwood station wagon isn’t mine, I’m just lucky to have a friend who will throw me the keys any time. When I look it over I can’t help but start dreaming about what I would do if it were mine.


Although I’ve been entrusted with making several upgrades and generally taking care of The Parkwood, as we call it, I know its owner would never, ever part with it. It’s part of his life and after driving it, I completely understand why.


It’s a visceral experience from the moment you crank the starter and light off the healthy V-8. A quick pump of the gas pedal is all it wants, then it idles high for a few moments with the choke held closed.


Soon the cammed idle settles into a steady, punctuated lope and it’s time to set off.


Driving a car of this vintage makes full use of your senses. For example, the interior has the smell of a classic General Motors product, familiar to those of us who grew up riding in the back of our parents’ Caprices or Malibus.


Part of the experience is wearing the scent of exhaust fumes and gasoline in your clothes and hair – a reminder that you’re riding in something special.


You need to use your other senses too, if you plan to take to the roads in a car that’s over 50 years old. Heightened awareness is a good thing to have.


Stopping, going or turning – it doesn’t do any of these things well. In fact, a new Toyota Camry would probably beat up on it on the street.


There are no seatbelts, so you might find yourself bracing against the door panel or bench seat as you maneuver to your destination.


You want safety features? Here’s my suggestion: try not to crash into anything.


To be honest, it’s unnerving at first, sliding around on the bench seat and giving yourself extra time to brake.


Soon though, you settle in and grow comfortable what you’re driving. This is a slice of freedom; a reminder of a time when we weren’t so damn uptight.

Abundant Optimism

All you have to do is glance over the lines of this 1959 design to feel a sense of abundant optimism.


’59 Chevys are considered some of the most beautiful, and you can see why. There’s an irrepressible, dauntless flow embodied in those heavy steel panels.


On paper this car isn’t fast at all, even though it’s got an aggressive-sounding small block that makes everyone swivel around to get a closer look.


But acceleration isn’t what counts when you’re driving a car like The Parkwood. Trust me, you can’t help but enjoy the thump of a lopey cam as you cruise around town.


Even so, it still has that surge of torque that only comes from a big engine pulling a vehicle with such mass. Sadly, we’ve relinquished and since forgotten this feeling with our modern vehicles.


And that’s what a car like The Parkwood has to offer – an experience that’s been lost. There isn’t a new car you can buy that will make you feel this way. The roar of the secondaries opening, the smell of old upholstery and noxious fumes, the sense of responsibility as you plan your next turn – it’s all gone, save for these moments we can sometimes steal from a simpler time.

To me, this lumbering wagon represents one of the greatest eras in American motoring, and getting behind its oversized steering wheel and taking the slow road for a change only cements that conviction. If you’ve never experienced what it’s to drive an old girl like this before, make sure it goes on the bucket list. After about two minutes of bench seat living, you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from.

Keith Charvonia
Instagram: SpeedhuntersKeith

Photos by Keith Ross
Instagram: Keith602

Cutting Room Floor


Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

That rolling shot, albeit it early in the year, has got to be in the running for top Snap of 2015


Nice article and photos Keith & Keith.


Talk about Ackerman angle (second photo from bonus images)


gilesguthrie that is pretty special. Would maybe put different wheels on it though.


StephenHynds I agree. I think it needs another inch of sidewall.


is it just me  or is anyone else thinking put the motor in the back build a decent suspension brake package and go auto-xing


Glad I have a site like this to cure my ailment for wagon's and general car related addictions. I have owned two wagons myself albeit worlds and generations apart I can't help but love the body styles. The picture is of my 1991 Civic Wagovan, FWD, auto, was stock save for the wheels and coilovers. And my second wagon is a 1955 Bel Air 2dr. 
Is there going to be any future features on some older iron of the truck category? I'm open minded to anything with wheels and usually have bench racing sessions with friends and ask if they could build anything what would it be and why? I'll ask you the same question.


LavarBowers It's just you...but I like it! You could use an El Dorado / Toronado transaxle from the FWD GM cars of the 60s and 70s. My friend and I were planning this for a truck build at one time. It's been done...


2011GT You'll like the truck feature we have planned.


omclarke Pretty good huh?


greenroadster LOL didn't notice that until I went back and looked. Old geometry that's been lowered.


@StephenHynds gilesguthrie It would look awesome with chrome steel wheels and whitewalls, but like I said in the story, it's not mine and that's how the owner likes it.


This thing oozes presence. I know it's blasphemy, but what's the fuel consumption like?


KeithCharvonia 2011GT Sweet! As always I can't wait. No other page/blog/site captures my attention like SPEEDHUNTERS does. Descriptive writing at its finest KeithCharvonia


New Speedhunters bumper sticker... Benches N Babes. 
I miss bench and dicky seats so much - I would beg my parents to let me ride 'backwards' in the dicky.
(sounds so wrong but it felt so right)


Is that a deluxe steering wheel from a C10?  I love wagons.  I love trucks more but wagons are next for me.


AM81 I always thought they were called Rodeo seats, least here in 'Murica

...and I'm mildly disappointed Keith didn't get a picture of the proud, erect dickey seat!


AdamBezzegh  I can't say for this exact model but I've had a couple cars of similar size/engine/era and they tend to hang out in the 8-10 mpg range. A lead foot swift changes that though.


Wagon Week > Shark Week . Love the theme


My grandfather had a Belair Sedan that had similar features as the wagon here. I remember sitting in it as a kid and not seeing over the dashboard as he waxed and washed every Saturday. Sunday he would take us for a long drive. Beautiful memories. Kim Shugart CEO -


Sure miss the 59 wagon, had fun building it.On no funds. Glad to see someone one enjoying it! Peace luv!