Wagon Queen Family Truckster
The Wagon Queen Family Truckster is a station wagon created specifically for the 1983 comedy National Lampoon's Vacation. The Truckster is based on a Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon that has been heavily modified.
The car was designed by George Barris (famous for other Hollywood custom cars such as the Batmobile, and many others) and was deliberately built to exhibit ridiculously bad taste, with absurd styling, and lampooned American cars of the late 1970s. The Truckster features a pea green paint scheme, an excessive amount of fake wood paneling, eight headlights, four on each side in a rectangular cluster -taken from another Crown Victoria/Country Squire, but inverted-; a grille area largely covered by bodywork having only two small openings close to the bumper, similar to that of a 1982 Oldsmobile Toronado; a separate oil cooler grille, but no oil cooler; gaudy chrome hubcaps with a huge crown logo; and a fuel filler access door illogically located in the front passenger-side fender. It is shown as poorly constructed as well, with brittle window glass, an airbag fashioned from a household trash bag and an engine that continues to knock and rattle after shut down despite it being a brand new car.
In the film
Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his son Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) arrive at the fictional Lou Glutz Motors at the movie's beginning to trade in their old station wagon, an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, for the vehicle Clark had ordered weeks before: an "Antarctic Blue Super Sportswagon" with a Citizens' Band radio and the optional "Rally Fun Pack". The salesman (played by Eugene Levy) attempts to talk Clark into accepting a Truckster (of which a large number are sitting unsold on the lot) by telling him the car he ordered will not arrive for another six weeks. When Clark argues with the salesman and demands his old car back, the dealership has already had it crushed. The salesman is not seen again, but Clark arrived home with a Truckster. He tells his wife it was "a great deal".
As the film progresses, the car is subjected to a great deal of abuse:
- In a rough neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, the hubcaps are stolen and graffiti reading "HONKY LIPS" is spray-painted on the side. The tire's sidewalls are also spray-painted green (leading Cousin Eddie to later remark "I like those green walls", to which Clark replies "Yeah, we had a little trouble in St. Louis"). After leaving St. Louis, Clark falls asleep at the wheel and nearly wrecks the car, but instead spins out and stops in a motel parking lot.
- At the first stop for fuel, Clark accidentally rips off the rear license plate, thinking that the filler was behind the license plate, where it was often located on 1960s- and 1970s-era American cars.
- In Arizona, Clark gets lost en route to the Grand Canyon and is too busy arguing with Ellen to realize the road is closed and barricaded. He then drives the car off the road's end at high speed, flies through the air, and almost destroys it upon landing: all the tires pop, the axles bend, and the front end is destroyed. He is able to get the car towed, but instead of receiving a properly repaired car, he gets four bald tires and is insulted and robbed of all his money by the garage manager (Mickey Jones), who also happens to be the corrupt County Sheriff.
In popular culture
- An otherwise normal maroon Ford Taurus Wagon with a similar faux-woodgrain panel scheme appears in Christmas Vacation.
- The car used in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a 1986 Chrysler Town and Country convertible, carries a similar paint scheme — metallic pea with woodgrain trim —, and similarly gaudy and outsized hubcaps in reference to the Family Truckster. That movie was directed by John Hughes, who wrote the screenplay for National Lampoon's Vacation basing it on his own experiences growing up.
- On The Fairly OddParents, the Turner family owned a station wagon that is a classic looking version of the Wagon Queen Family Truckster.
- Vacation rental Web site HomeAway used a Truckster replica in a short film, Hotel Hell Vacation, and television advertisement during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo reprised their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold on a road trip to see their son Rusty. This replica is currently on display in Austin Texas at the HomeAway headquarters at Penn Field.
- The introduction to the television show Married with Children uses a clip from National Lampoon's Vacation, showing the Truckster merging from the on-ramp into highway traffic.
- On SpongeBob SquarePants, A SquarePants Family Vacation and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 2 the SquarePants family owned a station wagon that is the SquarePants Family Truckster.
- "'Family Truckster' road tripping to Mecum auction in Houston". Foxnews.com. April 3, 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.