Station Wagons Throughout History

The precise definition for a station wagon can at times be confusing because different people and "experts" have their own opinion.

Most definitions of station wagons include a car which has an interior which is extended to the back, usually with an extra seat or luggage compartment. The back opens with a tailgate. Original station wagons could hold up to nine people at a time. The history of station wagons explains why these unique cars were originally constructed in this fashion.

Ford Model T Depot Hack

The first station wagon dates back to the early 1900's when they were informally known as "depot hacks." Why depot hacks? A "depot" was the term used for a train station and a "hack," was the term used to describe a taxi. These covered "wagons" used to transport customers from train stations to their home. When the name changed from depot hack to station wagon is not known, however, it is thought that the name change occurred somewhere between 1923 and 1929. Despite the fact that less than one per cent of all cars produced in the early days were station wagons, there were a large number of manufacturers. It is estimated that in 1909, there were 551 American manufacturers who produced station wagons.

The extended rear was required to carry large amounts of luggage. One of the earliest station wagon manufacturers was a company called Plymouth. Until the late 1970's, Plymouth used to refer to station wagons as "suburbans." Many people define station wagons as having started with the very first station wagon that went into production in 1923. It was called the Star and it was produced by Durant Motors between 1923 and 1928. Chrysler produced Town and Country station wagons as high end cars. They were their most expensive cars available at the time.