The 1960 Chevy Parkwood was a unique creation back in the day. With sheet metal unique to the Bowtie division, it was a styling tour de force.
Seventeen years later, in 1977, something changed at General Motors that few people know or talk about. The auto giant downsized its full-size cars and forever marked the transition to look-alike station wagons. Gone were the days of unique bodies tailored to each division, replaced by a generic body from the A-pillar back.
With the new models, Chevrolet and Pontiac shared the same front clip with different grilles. Olds and Buick had brand-specific fenders, hoods, and grilles. Even Ford and Chrysler figured out that eliminating different station wagon bodies would slash costs and consolidated their wagons years before GM. It marked the end of an era for outrageously styled station wagons.
Finding This 1960 Parkwood
A great example of the glory days of station wagons is Brian Ernst’s 1960 Chevrolet Parkwood. We met up with him at the Street Machine Nationals in St Paul, Minnesota, and loved his big green machine. For the model year 1960, each division had unique, and complex styling and is highly sought after today.
Hailing from Watertown, Minnesota, Brian’s wife Karen, located the wagon at a consignment dealer just two miles from their house. A product packaging R&D technician by day, he’s an avid car guy with nine cruisers in his stable. To get the whole backstory on his cool wagon, let’s look back at the gestation and heyday of the 1960 Chevy Parkwood.
The Good Old Days
The 1960 Chevrolet wagons were built at various assembly plants across the United States and Canada. They were designed by a team of stylists and engineers led by Harley Earl, who was the head of General Motors’ design department from 1927 to 1958.
Chevy wagons for 1960 were available in four different models: the Brookwood, Parkwood, Kingswood, and Nomad. Each model had its own distinctive features and trim levels, but they all shared the same basic body and chassis.
The Brookwood was the base model and the most affordable trim level. It mirrored the Biscayne and had minimal exterior chrome trim and a simple interior with vinyl upholstery and rubber floor mats. It could seat six passengers and had a cargo capacity of 97 cubic feet.
The Parkwood was the mid-level model and offered more features and comfort and was akin to the Bel Air. It had more chrome trim on the exterior and a fancier interior with cloth upholstery and carpeting. It could seat nine passengers and had a cargo capacity of 105 cubic feet.
The Kingswood and the Nomad were the top-of-the-line models and had the most style and luxury in the lineup. Think of a long-roof Impala and you get the idea. They had even more chrome trim on the exterior and a deluxe interior with vinyl-and-cloth upholstery and upscale door panels.
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
The 1960 Chevrolet wagons had various powertrain options to suit different needs and preferences. All came standard with a three-speed manual transmission with column shift, but they could be equipped with an optional four-speed manual transmission with floor shift or an optional two-speed Powerglide or Turboglide automatic transmission
The Brookwood came standard with a 235 cubic-inch, inline-six engine that produced 135 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque. It could also be upgraded to a 283 cubic-inch V8 engine that produced either 170 or 230 horsepower, depending on the carburetor type.
The Parkwood came standard with a 283 cubic-inch V8 engine that produced either 170 or 230 horsepower, depending on the carburetor type. It could also be upgraded to a 348 cubic-inch V8 engine that produced either 250, 280, or 315 horsepower, depending on the carburetor type and compression ratio.
The Kingswood and Nomad came standard with a 283 cubic inch V8 engine that produced either 170 or 230 horsepower, depending on the carburetor type. It could also be upgraded to a 348 cubic inch V8 engine that produced either 250, 280, or 315 horsepower, depending on the carburetor type and compression ratio. When all was said and done, Chevrolet sold almost 350,000 wagons in 1960.
Brian & Karen’s 1960 Parkwood
Brian and Karen’s 1960 Parkwood was in great shape when they bought it in Zimmerman, Minnesota. Brian told us “I’ve owned and built a lot of cars, and it’s easier to buy a good car and then tweak it to your tastes.” That was exactly his strategy with this Parkwood. He painted the roof a Cadillac Escalade pearl white and added RideTech air ride, Rally wheels, and BF Goodrich wide whitewalls.
Before Brian’s ownership of the car, a Corvette 350cid V8 was dropped underhood, backed up by a 200R4, four-speed automatic transmission. He says “I left the mechanicals alone. The wagon runs well and is my (summer) daily driver and go-to ride for car shows. We can pack all of our gear if we go to an out-of-state car show and of course, it’s a great Home Depot runner.”
Running The Numbers
There were a total of 334,377 Chevrolet wagons built for 1960, of which 172,747 were Brookwoods, 144,313 were Parkwoods, 16,590 were Kingswoods, and 632 were Nomads. These days, only 1,163 wagons are registered, of which 453 are Brookwoods, 512 are Parkwoods, 180 are Kingswoods, and 18 are Nomads. It’s crazy to think that from 334,337 Chevy wagons produced in 1960, just over 1,000 remain, or are at least, registered.
These numbers are likely lower than the actual number of wagons still in existence, as not all owners may have registered their cars or updated their information. Nevertheless, 1960 Chevrolet wagons are scarce and valuable vehicles today. Our featured Parkwood was lucky when Karen Ernst spotted it and is now living its best automotive life with a respectful and knowledgeable shepherd. Here’s to the Ernsts, and many more happy miles.