The ultimate grocery-getter

by Larry D'Argis . Dec 09 2016
Photos by Larry D'Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Photos by Larry D'Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

The station wagon was just that: built as a custom vehicle in the early 20th century, they were modified to accommodate passengers and baggage for the trip between the train station and the hotel. These wagons allowed added room, offering patrons a more comfortable ride. By the late 1940s, manufacturers recognized growing families also had a need for these vehicles and added them as a regular production model.

Long before there were even thoughts of SUVs or minivans the best family vehicle available to new car buyers was the station wagon. The ability to haul the entire family anywhere, anytime and with most of the gear required to take in everything from hockey practice to a family campout, it flat out did it all. Available as a compact, intermediate or full-size, there was a station wagon for everyone and thanks to the optional equipment list, everyone could have their own specially equipped station wagon.

Still a strong seller into the 1970s, the loaded-with-options station wagon could often become the most expensive model on the lot. Everything was on the table from luxury to performance options, so seeing wagons equipped with big-block V-8s, air conditioning and full-power options were not out of the norm.

For Rob Sandul, of St. Andrews, building several cars over the years including a 1970 Chevelle, muscle car, he felt it was time for more of a family friendly summer cruiser and he thought about a station wagon. In August of 2009, he set his sights on a 1972 Chevelle station wagon he saw offered online from Santa Clara, Calif. A running, driving car with a 350 cubic-inch V-8, Sandul purchased it and had it shipped from California to Pembina, N.D., and drove the car home to Winnipeg.

“I had envisioned the wagon as a straight restoration, but it soon snowballed into a full SS clone with a big-block V-8 and as much SS features as I could find,” Sandul says.

After sitting for the winter, Sandul stripped the car to its frame and redid the body bushings with polyurethane pieces from Energy Suspension. A straight, rust-free California car, he turned it over to his friend Stan to do the final prep and application of the Misty Turquoise Blue paint. The cowl induction Goodmark hood, sourced from Pro Body Parts, also received a repaint and application of gloss black stripes, as did the rear tailgate, with the black-out between the taillamps. The original bumpers were rehung and a new windshield supplied and installed by Mitch at AMA Glass & Trim. New Chevelle SS grille and emblems complete the look.

For the interior upholstery, Walker Automotive sourced a new P.U.I Interiors kit, including black vinyl door panels and carpet. The front bench seats had been replaced with bucket seats and a centre console from a Chevelle, along with the tilt steering column and rally gauge dash cluster, that included full gauges and tachometer. As added insurance, Sandul also installed AutoMeter oil and temperature gauges at the front of the centre console to monitor the engine. DNR Auto Upholstery in Lockport installed the new vinyl headliner. Options include power steering, power front disc brakes, dual side-view mirrors, air conditioning, tinted glass, tilt steering wheel and push-button AM radio.

The chassis received a thorough cleaning and application of black paint and powder-coating of suspension pieces, making it look better than new. New suspension and steering components were installed along with drilled and slotted brake rotors up front. A close-ratio steering box from a Camaro was installed along with a larger front sway bar for added steering control. Rolling stock includes B.F. Goodrich Comp T/A KDW radial tires mounted on Boss 338 18-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels.

For power, the 350 V-8 gave way to a rebuilt 454 cubic inch big-block V-8. Built by Mike Medvan, it features .0030-inch overbore Probe 9.5 compression forged pistons, big valve cylinder heads, performance camshaft and Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold with 750 cubic feet per minute double-pumper, Holley four-barrel carburetor. Ignition duties are handled by an HEI distributor and exhaust gases exit via Sanderson headers and a Pypes stainless steel custom dual exhaust system with Pro Series mufflers. A Deb’s 2,800 r.p.m. high-stall torque converter, mate to a Great Rate Transmission prepped 700R4 overdrive automatic transmission with shift kit and Corvette servos, leading to a stout 3.73:1 geared 12-bolt posi-traction rear axle.

Reassembled in October of 2015 by Sandul, Medvan and Derek Glesby, the faux SS wagon has attended several local shows and always captures a good deal of attention. Production figures for 1972 station wagons include Nomad, Greenbrier, Concours and Concours Estate models totalling 54,400 units assembled. Sandul has a very good representation of what an SS Chevelle wagon may have looked like in 1972 and we’re sure it will be a hit at any show for many seasons to come. Without a doubt, this is one people mover and grocery-getter that certainly lives up to its name.

Upgrades to the car’s interior include new vinyl door panels, carpet and oil and temperature gauges.

Upgrades to the car’s interior include new vinyl door panels, carpet and oil and temperature gauges.

Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressIn 2009 Rob Sandul bought a 1972 Chevelle station wagon, which he got shipped from Santa Clara, Calif., to Pembina, N.D., before driving its new home to Manitoba.

Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

In 2009 Rob Sandul bought a 1972 Chevelle station wagon, which he got shipped from Santa Clara, Calif., to Pembina, N.D., before driving its new home to Manitoba.