Car Collector Corner: Last of the six-passenger vehicles
Q: Greg, I've been trying without success to locate a newly manufactured (2012 -2013) automobile or station wagon that is designed to carry six passengers - three in the front and three in the back - with enough room in the trunk (or back for a wagon) for luggage for the six.
Is there such a thing anymore, or have they gone the way of the dinosaurs? Your answer will be greatly appreciated. Thanks! M. A. Darrow, email.
A: M.A., you have but one choice left, the 2012 Chevy Impala with its generous 18.6 cu. ft. trunk.
However, sans the current Impala, the six-passenger automobile is indeed going the way of the dinosaur as rumors over at General Motors have the Impala going to a five-passenger seating design come 2013.
As for me, I recall many trips with my family where we sat "3x3" in the two rows of the family car. Back then, my dad had a '51 Mercury, '55 Plymouth and then a '61 Chevy that were all capable of roomy '3x3" seating. And back then, there truly was room for three, unlike the mid- to large-size cars that tout "room for three" in a tight backseat.
Most cars today have front bucket seats, which eliminates any chance of a true front-rear "3x3" format. Granted, SUV's and Minivans have more than six passenger capacity, but the front seats are still buckets and most have to utilize that third tow to get the sixth and seventh passengers seated.
As for the station wagons, even nine-passenger wagons were commonplace on the highways in the 1950. Further, those third seats were very roomy, as the width of the cars back then easily accommodated the passengers comfort needs.
In summary, you can still purchase that 2012 Chevy Impala. However, the roominess many of us enjoyed in the 1950 through 1980 bigger cars just won't be there. If you want a decent six-passenger rear-drive used vehicle, the 2011 Mercury Grand Marquis (or more expensive Lincoln Town Car) can fit the bill. The Marquis is another of the six passenger cars that went by the wayside as it is no longer available.
Good luck, and let us know what you choose.
(Greg Zyla writes weekly on collector cars, old-time motorsports and auto nostalgia. He welcomes reader questions firstname.lastname@example.org or at 116 Main St., Towanda, Pa. 18848, Pa. 18840.)