I've always wanted one of the awkward "tall wagon" cars that were some sort of odd mix between wagons, minivans and SUVs. Irritatingly all of these cars seem to have like fifty different names in the North American market (with even more names available in Japan and abroad), which makes a reliable Kijiji search difficult.
Let's review some of the ones you may have seen decades ago, shall we?
Honda Civic Wagon/Shuttle/Wagovan/Beagle/RT4WD
The only thing Honda likes more than not-torque is mixing up their most desirable options in obscure low-production foreign market automobiles. Now that the tuner crowd has noticed these expect to never be able to buy a clean one again.
The car's recent fame is most likely from the fact it's the only remaining EF chassis Civic model to still have intact cars available that were owned by adult humans, but it might also be from viral video sensation Wagon Attack 2, where some boost is crammed into it. There's an entire forum dedicated to this model, but why wouldn't there be?
Not only could you opt for real-time 4WD (likely a spiritual if not technical predecessor to the CR-V), but you could also get that with a 6-speed manual transmission. What happened, Honda? You used to do weird stuff like this because it obviously amused someone in engineering.
Nissan Prairie/Stanza Wagon/Multi/Axxess
Nissan wanted to make a van, because presumably some of their customers were having too much fun in life and had to turn it down a notch. Until they figured out the whole "van" thing, they gave the Stanza a shot first. Is it attractive? No, but let's be honest. At this point in time Nissan couldn't even make attractive 300ZXes.
Notable features included a complete lack of a B-pillar on one side (for more room to load your soon-to-be-dead passengers) and optional part-time 4WD.
Mitsubishi Expo/Colt Vista/Chariot/Nimbus/Space Wagon/Eagle Vista
The DSM crowd should be fully intrigued; look, it's a car that could have a turbo 4G63 but currently doesn't! Imagine the look on the other parents' faces when you pull up in a 20 year old Japanese minivan that's smaller than the Honda Fit they shove into the leftover space between their two urban assault vehicles.
In Japan you could get a turbo engine. Unlike most modern turbo Mitsubishis, this one wasn't discontinued in order to focus on producing a better golf cart. It came with optional - you guessed it - full time all wheel drive.
Since Mitsubishi apparently liked to sleep around, you could get a version of this from Plymouth, Eagle, Hyundai and some guy working out of a shed in New Zealand.
Not only is this a tall wagon, but it's also longer than the normal Tercel. A strange decision on Toyota's part but one that's apparently paid off pretty well. I see more of these things on the road than hatchback Tercels nowadays.
Since this car was apparently hacked together out of stuff Toyota had at the back of their closet on dorm room move-out day, you couldn't really opt to not get part-time 4WD, but you could get a 6-speed manual, just like their mortal foes Honda offered. Unlike the Honda, however, the extra gear was for stump pullin' torque. Yee-haw!
A final word
I hope you enjoyed this short look at America's least favorite import station wagon van things and perhaps, just perhaps, were moved to try and secure one of our dwindling strategic supply of Wagovans before they are slammed to the weeds on cut springs and crashed repeatedly into parking structures and hepatitis clinics.
Civic Wagovan image source: gregory_gdp on Flickr. Creative Commons licensed.