1949-1950 Packard Station Sedan

Packard never said how many Station Sedans it built each model year, but its body style reports listed 126 wagons produced in late 1947, 3,266 in calendar 1948, and 472 in 1949, for a grand total of only 3,864 (an estimated 75 percent being 1948 models). Considering the susceptibility of wood-trimmed bodies and their general survival rate -- aggravated in Packard's case by water leaks around the tailgate (there was no rain gutter above it) -- Station Sedans are fairly rare today, even in Packard circles, where they tend to be looked after and cherished.

1948 Packard Eight Station Sedan
Packard sold only 472 Station Sedans like this one in 1949.

Packard called its Station Sedan "the successor to the station wagon! Here's the 'all-occasion' beauty and comfort of a sedan, all the traditional utility of a station wagon ... along with new strength, streamlining, and proud distinction." The tailgate basically fit into the sedan's decklid opening, which explains why it was so narrow. This, in turn, meant that the upper sides tapered inward at the rear. Combined with the rakishly slanted rear end (for a wagon), that allowed only 63 cubic feet of cargo room with the second seat folded down -- just 2.5 more than a Pinto wagon, according to Williams.

Nathaniel T. Dawes, in his book, The Packard: 1942-1962, tells us there were 21 square feet of cargo area with the rear seat folded, or 29 with the tail-gate lowered, providing a nearly nine-foot-long platform. Packard engineers made the floors, roof, and walls of steel "to provide durability, safety and a quiet ride ... They selected fine-grained hardwoods for the side and rear panels, and specified new types of hardware and other fittings to carry out the massive distinction of its functional styling."

1948 Packard Eight Station Sedan
Packard Station Sedans like this one boasted 21
square feet of cargo area with the rear seat folded.

On the inside, the Station Sedan was swathed in washable vinyls, "new materials that out-look and out-last natural leather," Packard claimed. The cargo compartment floor was finished in thick, heavily varnished outdoor plywood protected by stainless steel "no-mar" strips.

As in years past, Packard offered several hood ornaments. Standard on the Eights, as Williams notes, was a low "flying wing," but buyers could opt for the "Goddess of Speed," irreverently known as the "boy with the donut," or the "Egyptian," which Williams said "looked like a fancified 1949 Ford hood ornament." Standard on Custom Eights was the graceful "Cormorant," which Packard would call the "Pelican" in 1949-1950. Given the lofty price of the Station Sedan, it would seemingly have been appropriate to make the Cormorant standard on this model.

An all-steel wagon had been introduced by Willys-Overland immediately after the war, though most considered it more truck than car. The first all-steel, car-based wagons appeared in mid-1949. The Plymouth DeLuxe Suburban two-door cost just $1,840, but even this low-priced confection took time to appeal to the public. At about the same time, Chevrolet and Pontiac converted their semi-woody 1949 wagons to all-steel bodies.

But, in fact, the great era of the station wagon would come with the vast growth of suburbia in the middle Fifties. Packard could hardly have expected high sales volume for a wagon priced nearly as high as its top-of-the-line Custom Eight sedans. Still, the Station Sedan's market share actually exceeded Packard's overall penetration: three percent of total U.S. wagon output versus 2.5 percent of total car production.

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