The SUV Without The S

The 1950’s were serious times for serious people. Not for them the fun-loving carefree attitudes of today. People were committed to work and only bought vehicles that were totally practical and sensibly engineered…

Yeah. Right. How many model car collections contain Thunderbirds, Corvettes, Jaguars, and MG sports cars? Painted in drab serviceable colours for everyday haulage…

As a contrast I present the Chevrolet or GMC Suburban of 1950. Like the Renault Juvenal and any number of English vans, it actually is the forerunner of the modern SUV – but no-one deceived themselves that it had anything to do with sport.

Filling the back seats with your own children might have been considered a sport, but the families who did probably considered that to be a form of work as well…In any case the vehicle could haul people, groceries, and products about as well as a modern SUV but with far less comfort or pretension. And for that reason I would love to own one.

If the front end looks like a GMC pickup truck of the period it is because that is what it is – the bodywork further back becomes a large station wagon with only two side doors and two rear doors – and a lot of shuffling and wingeing to get all the people into all the seats. A modern vehicle does that very much better – the slide-door vans being the best of all. It is amazing that it took the designers all the time it did to fasten upon that idea as the best solution.

Still, this is the sort of hauler that would haul in places that the car of the time would stall. I do remember them as rural school buses or construction job people haulers. I’m willing to be that they probably had their seats stripped out and became many more things before the decade was over. I’m undecided about the paint job on this Mira model, but I’m glad I have it and its companion panel van.

That’s a traffic signal box at the corner of High Road and Herald Avenue…

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