Stunning. This is what I thought the first time I laid eyes on this wagon. It is remarkable how cool vintage wagons truly are. For many of us, these beasts were the mainstay of family transportation. To see one in remarkably unused condition, such as this one, is pretty rare.
Weatherstripping doesn’t last the test of time, and the doors and tailgate needed some attention. The door parts were easy to source, as they are shared with the four-door sedan. The tailgate posed some more complex issues. No one makes ready-made rubber that you simply order by year, make and model. Fortunately, much of the tailgate rubber is in serviceable shape. The beltline rubber scraper was non-existent. Considerable time was spent with universal rubber catalogs and a few products tried before a compromise solution was found. The beltline “fuzzy” and the window channel linings were also replaced. There is an additional rubber lip seal that lives in the base of the window frame that also needed to be sourced and replaced.
It is somewhat amazing how little thought went into rust prevention on early cars. Perhaps this was an intentional move to encourage future new car purchases. The interior of the tailgate had a fair amount of non-structural rust damage that needed to be treated with POR-15 to arrest further development.
While the front doors were apart, the vent window regulators were found to be damaged. The housings are pot metal and the mechanism uses a worm and sector gear similar to some steering boxes. What appears to be a design weakness is that the main door window opens by turning the window crank one direction and the vent window opens by turning its handle the opposite direction. It is pretty easy to start putting pressure on the vent window handle in the wrong direction to open it or to attempt to close the vent window tightly by exerting extra force on the handle once the window is closed. What all this action does, however, is force the backing plate that retains the worm gear right off the back of the housing. The plate is retained by two soft pot metal posts that are peened over like rivets. The backing plate ends up pushed off the posts and lands in the door cavity and the regulator ends up with sloppy action due to the back end of the worm gear shaft no longer being supported by the backing plate. Oddly, one of the backing plates was missing and I had to fabricate a replacement from sheet metal. I drilled and tapped the housing to accept machine screws. I also found one of the worm gears to be in rough shape and I had to carefully re-profile it to overcome a spot where it would skip and stop moving the sector gear and thus the window.
The doors now close solidly and there is only the faintest of highway wind noise from the windscreen itself. At cruising speed one really appreciates this car. The abundance of windows coupled with the tiny A, B, C & D pillars gives the impression of being in a fishbowl with infinite visibility. It is extremely comfortable and just begs one to load it up and head off into the sunset.