Hagerty.com

Jay Leno gets his cruise on with this 1950 Plymouth Suburban


#1

Stylish wagons seem to be making a comeback, with longroof models popping up from brands who previously were laser focused on sports cars or sedans. The humble roots of the station wagon design trace back many years, when it was purely a function over form proposition. The 1950 Plymouth Suburban is a prime example of that ethos—and also the latest feature on Jay Leno’s Garage.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/12/26/jay-lenos-garage-plymouth-suburban

#2

Station Wagons like this may have been designed for tradesmen, but it was mostly families that bought them, especially families that went camping. My first car was a 52 Plymouth 4 dr. sedan. I have never had a more comfortable or reliable car or one easier to work on. My father in law had a 53 2 dr. wagon and they used it for everyday transport and camping. I don’t know if the station wagons were geared lower ,but the sedans would do 85 mph. On the 2 and 3 lane roads of the day it would have been very difficult to gt up to 85 mph.

The three lane roads of the early 50s were very dangerous because the were used by drivers going in either direction to pass regardless of hills or curves or any other sight obstructions to vision and there were no rules about who had to give way if you met a car coming in the opposite direction.


#3

@twonewts - I always tend to associate the four-door wagons with families and the two-door wagons with working tradesman. Surely a family could take advantage of the two-door, and likely did, but the easier access to the rear seat provided by the “extra” doors had to have been appreciated.

I couldn’t imagine driving those three-lane roads. sounds terrifying.


#4

My wife was an only child and her parents always bought 2 door cars. The 4 doors cost more and the difference was about a weeks pay. At that time a 2 door was considered safer for children because the kids could no open a door and fall out. There were no child safety locks back then.


#5

@twonewts - Interesting perspective. I can’t say I had thought about it that way previously.

With no child seats to struggle and get kids in and out of, the two door wagon likely would not be such an inconvenience since you really didn’t need as much access to the rear seat.


#6

My first car was a 1950 Plymouth Special Deluxe Club Coupe. My dad bought it new and passed it down to me when I turned 16 and got a job ( that probably has a lot to do with my affection for all thing Mopar now). Sad to say, I used it up the way teenagers do, and now it’s in that big Mopar Heaven in the sky. But thanks for the ride and the memories, Jay!


#7

I own a 49 Plymouth suburban with 32,000 miles on it that I am in the process of restoring. I can’t wait to get the car done it and use it as my summer ride to go to the beach


#8

I drive around (in North Monterey County, California) in a 1959 Rambler American two-door station wagon. It was being used as a “utility” van by a painter in Sacramento (and was thoroughly thrashed and paint spattered) when I bought it in 1982. I’ve thoroughly restored the car (painted “fire engine” red, with a 196 cu. in. flathead six cylinder engine and 3 speed automatic tranny, and even a luggage rack on top) and it gets lots of “oohs” and “aahs” from spectators. . . . . . . . . . . . .


#9

My parents bought a '51 Savoy wagon and immediately after leaving the dealership and stopping at a light behind a big truck, when the light turned green the truck dropped a refrigerator on the hood. They went back and had the hood replaced and the car was never in a wreck since… This was the first car I learned to drive and got my learners permit at 14 and took my driving test 2 years later. I used this car all during high school. When I bought a Corvette they insisted I trade the wagon… oh, how I wished I kept the wagon. If I could find another I would buy it in a heartbeat. Great memories thanks to Jay Leno.