Old School Americana & Nostalgia

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‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’: All About the Griswold’s Car, the Wagon Queen Family Truckster

‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’: All About the Griswold’s Car, the Wagon Queen Family Truckster

Few family cars on the big screen are as unforgettable as the quirky green station wagon from the 1983 classic National Lampoon’s Vacation. The unwieldy, gas-guzzling behemoth became the quintessential family road trip vehicle.

The car, a heavily modified 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire wagon by George Barris (who designed the 66′ Batmobile, among others), was Clark Griswold’s ride of choice for the inaugural vacation.

Well, the Truckster wasn’t exactly Clark’s first pick. The endearing character, portrayed by Chevy Chase, had placed an order for an Antarctic Blue Super Sports Wagon with CB and the optional Rally Fun Pack. Faced with a six-week wait for his dream car, a family road trip to Walley World set for the next morning, and his trade-in wagon crushed, “Sparky” Griswold was in a predicament.

“This is a damn fine automobile if you want my honest opinion…,” a car salesman played by Eugene Levy tells Clark. “You think you hate it now, but wait until you drive it.”

The ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ Car Started as a 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire

Barris began with a 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire wagon, enhancing it with copious fake wood paneling, a Metallic Pea paint finish, and an unnecessary doubling of the headlights. The outcome was a remarkably garish Boomer Chariot. However, it served as the ideal vehicle for Chevy Chase’s foolish yet good-natured character, Clark Griswold.

Five Wagon Queen Family Trucksters were crafted for the iconic National Lampoon’s Vacation film. The filmmakers required all five to depict the seemingly endless misfortunes that plagued the Griswold family during their ill-fated road trip to Walley World.

The Griswolds’ Family Truckster endured vandalism, a daring but calamitous desert jump, and untrustworthy mechanics. The passing of Dinky the dog and beloved Aunt Edna also involved the family vehicle. The Vacation car even boasted some hauling power when Edna’s body was discreetly (and tastefully) secured to the roof.

Despite multiple flirtatious encounters with Christie Brinkley in a red Ferrari 308 GTS, the Truckster and its passengers eventually made it to the ultimate destination: Walley World amusement park. Vacation exemplified family road trips from hell at its peak. The Truckster certainly plays a vital role in all the antics.

Of course, the comedic road-trip film boosted Chase, director Harold Ramis, and writer John Hughes to more success. It resulted in a series of Vacation films, including the beloved Christmas Vacation.

An original National Lampoon’s Vacation Car was put up for auction at a 2013 Mecum event. However, there were no takers at its $35,000 asking price. Subsequently, the identical wagon was acquired from Hemmings for close to $40,000. However, the current locations of that particular model and its four counterparts remain a mystery.