Mercury Woodie Station Wagon
Although Ford Motor Company’s new 1949 station wagons provided both fashion and utility, competitors were hard at work on new features of their own. The all-steel Plymouth Suburban, while only a six-seater, had a folding rear seat that converted in just seconds to a flat load area. General Motors had embraced the all metal idiom but hedged their bets; GM wagons were available in metal with Di-Noc decoration, or real wood, albeit more an accent than real structure.
Where Ford trailed most was in utility. In order to use the load space in a Ford or Mercury wagon, one had to remove the middle and rear seats. This was difficult and took several minutes – and was best done by two people. Once the seats were out, there was an uneven floor because the footwell for the second seat passengers was at a different level than the area for third seat.
Mercury’s 1950 models made incremental improvements in the same manner as Ford. There were now pushbutton door handles, new parking lights and subtle changes to the grille and hood trim. A completely new instrument panel, called “Safe-T-Vue,” grouped gauges more closely together and raised them closer to eye level. Indirect lighting, a Ford feature in 1949, reduced glare. A new “Merco-Therm” heating and ventilating system promised “living room comfort” and “a complete change of air…in a matter of seconds.”
As in 1949, the station wagon had a full-leather interior, available in tan, red or green, and keyed to the car’s exterior color. Seating was provided for eight, in three-two-three configuration, since the second seat was narrow to allow passage to the rear. The load area comprised 118 cubic feet with a nine-foot deck. The company publicity said it could carry up to half a ton, although using it required removing the two rear seats, not an easy job since they were heavy and cumbersome. To accommodate the additional weight, station wagon chassis were stronger than the rest of the passenger line. A wider rear axle was also used, along with heavier, nine-leaf springs. As a result, the empty station wagon was 285 pounds heavier than the four-door sedan.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California and in August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
110 bhp, 255.4 cu. in. Flathead V8 engine, three-speed manual transmission with overdrive, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 118".
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel