1976 Buick Wagon
Station wagons were named for their original role in the early 20th century to ferry passengers and luggage from railroad stations.
Over the years, station wagons evolved as practical alternatives to sedans and coupes. Families of all types flocked to the large people/cargo carriers, especially after World War II when the baby boom generation was being formed and expressways crisscrossed the country. Station wagons played an important role in GM’s history.
In the trend-laden decade of the 70’s when Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night” topped the music charts and the ink-jet printer was invented, the station wagon was the all-American family-hauler. Family Feud debuted on television and a gallon of gas was going for $0.59. Wagons ruled the roadways. In 1976 there were 62 wagon options to choose from. In that year, U.S. sales of wagons reached an all-time high of 972,212 units, accounting for 10 percent of total industry sales.
The 1971-76 GM full-size station wagons were the largest wagons the company ever made. Four GM divisions had their own version, complete with vinyl wood appliques on the sides – the Chevrolet Caprice Estate, Pontiac Grand Safari, Olds Custom Cruiser and Buick Estate Wagon. The Buick was the grandest of them all.
The 1976 Buick Estate wagon was the second generation version, manufactured in Flint, MI from 1971 to 1976. They were the first Buick station wagons to be built on its largest chassis since the Roadmaster Estates of 1947–53. It offered a 10 ½ foot long wheelbase (127.0 inches) and overall length of over 19 feet (231.8 inches). Front/rear shoulder room of 64.3" and 63.4" respectively, set a record for interior width.
At over 5,000 pounds, the Buick Estate Wagon was a heavy vehicle that contained 106 cubic feet of usable cargo area. With a base price of $5,731, the Estate Wagon was cheaper per pound than the cost of sliced bacon at the supermarket in 1976. It was powered by a 455 cubic inch V8, delivering 205 horsepower.
The Buick Estate Wagon also featured a 'clamshell' tailgate design, marketed as the Glide-Away Tailgate, where the rear power-operated glass slid up into the roof as the lower tailgate (manually or with power assist) slid into a recess under the cargo floor. The tailgate system was operated by switches on the instrument panel or a key switch on the rear quarter panel. Like a top-hinged tailgate, the clamshell design allowed a person to stand directly at the open cargo area without impediment, facilitating loading and unloading in tight spaces.
Times changed and the impact on the station wagon was significant. The 1970’s oil crisis shocked the market and large, heavy cars suffered mightily. That was followed by the rise of the minivan, a much more manageable family-hauler than the nine-seat, nearly 20-foot-long full-size wagons. By 1995 the number of wagon models offered had dropped to 44 according to industry data. By 2004 there were just 26.
Although station wagons were upstaged by SUVs, crossovers and minivans they have retained a loyal following among a certain segment of consumers. Today, there are dozens of station wagon fan clubs around the U.S., as well as websites devoted to the vehicles. This enduring following has led many automotive makers to feel that the time is right to mount a comeback for the station wagon. Forward-thinking car manufacturers like GM are reviving the station wagon in hopes of attracting that loyal group of buyers.
In late 2017, Buick will launch the Regal TourX. Manufactured in Germany, the TourX is a true crossover with the drive dynamics of a car and the versatility of an SUV. It offers rugged utility and upscale amenities for active lifestyles. The Regal TourX brings Buick’s contemporary design and attainable luxury credentials to new segments where customers are looking for more. Key features include;
Roof & Cross Rails - Aluminum roof rails come standard. And available accessory cargo cross bars work to make it easy for you to attach and carry all kinds of adventure gear from bikes to kayaks.
Hands-Free Power Liftgate - A standard new hands-free power liftgate lets you load, unload and access an adventure’s worth of gear with a simple wave of your foot – even when your hands are full. And a convenient LED illumination marks the spot, making the activation an easy one.
Adventure-Ready - Standard 18” aluminum wheels are both rugged and refined to reflect a style as distinctive as your own.
Buick Infotainment - TourX offers an available 8-inch diagonal hi-res, color touch-screen. It also gives you the ability to download relevant in-vehicle apps via SHOP.
OnStar - With available OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi , TourX becomes its own mobile hotspot to connect up to seven devices in — and around — your vehicle. The result? You stay in touch practically anywhere your journey takes you.
Active Safety - An available, sophisticated suite of radar, camera and ultrasonic crash avoidance technologies that can help you in everyday situations avoid crashes, or reduce the severity if one occurs. Available features include Side Blind Zone Alert, Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Automatic Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking and more.
Intelligent AWD - Thanks to TourX’s standard Intelligent All-Wheel Drive with Active Twin Clutch, you’ll experience nothing but superior traction and performance.
2.0L 4-Cylinder Turbo Engine - TourX is powered by a standard 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine to deliver the perfect balance of power and efficiency, without compromise.
8 – Speed Automatic Transmission - TourX makes driving exhilarating with an 8-speed transmission electronically controlled for quicker and more seamless shifts.
Over the years Buick wagons have had a loyal following. From the early Roadmasters to the Estate wagons to this year’s introduction of the new Regal TourX, Buick has decades of experience delivering exceptional products to move people forward.