It’s likely that only the more discerning Chevrolet aficionados have ever even heard of a 1961 Chevrolet Parkwood. We don’t think we had ever seen one in person until we ran across this pristine example at the Goodguys Southwest Nationals. Phoenix native Frank Andrade is the current caretaker of this car. It is a true time capsule in that, except for the wheels, it would look right at home in 1960s suburbia, loaded with kids headed to baseball practice or making a cross-country trip with the entire family.
The interior is amazing. Even the headliner is original. There is no evidence of spilled soda or cookies ground into the carpet.
The Parkwood was only around for three years: 1959 to 1961. During that time, Chevrolet gave their station wagons unique names, with Parkwood being the middle-of-the-road offering between the base-priced Brookwood and the top-of-the-line Nomad. In 1959 and 1960 there was also the Kingswood, which was the same as a Parkwood, but with a 9-passenger configuration thanks to a rear-facing jump seat. In 1961, however, the Kingswood name was dropped, and the Parkwood nameplate could be found on both 6- and 9-passenger models. In 1962, the wagons shared the names of their passenger car equivalents, the Biscayne, Bel Air, and Impala.
Though this Parkwood originally had a 348ci engine under the hood, that was replaced at some point by a more mainstream 350ci smal-block that has been dressed up nicely and looks right at home. The engine is backed by a Turbo 350 transmission.
The Parkwood station wagons were offered with a 235ci straight six or a 283ci V8, but in 1961, an optional 348ci W-headed V8 was added to the lineup. This particular example is an original 348-powered car, making it an exceptionally rare one-year-only combination. Unfortunately, the 348ci engine no longer resides under the hood, having been replaced at some point by a more pedestrian 35ci small-block.
With that somewhat convoluted lineage out of the way, we can move on to the story of this particular Parkwood. Frank says he is the third or fourth owner of the car, and knows quite a bit about its history. The wagon is originally from San Francisco, and was owned by the Wrigley family (the chewing gum people). The story goes that the station wagon was used to transport the younger Wrigleys to and from from college, though it’s unclear whether the kids themselves drove the car, or whether they had people for that. Considering the pristine condition of the wagon, we’re guessing it didn’t spend much time in the hands of college kids or on college campuses.
It apparently stayed with the family for quite some time, which may also account for its excellent condition. About a decade ago the car was up for sale at the Pomona swap meet, where the Parkwood changed hands and went to the owner that Frank acquired it from. Frank has had the car for about a year, and other than adding the billet wheels and modern rubber, the car is exactly as he found it.
Frank explained he was drawn to the car because he likes the lines, and this was such an original, pristine example that he couldn’t pass it up. Frank already owns a ’62 Impala bubbletop, and he was originally looking at another ’61 Parkwood that wasn’t nearly in the same shape as this one. Though the 1961 Parkwood shares many of the same styling cues as the ’61 Impala, the ’59 and ’60 models have completely different bodies and sheetmetal. Except for the engine, everything about this car is original. From the interior seats and carpet to the exterior paint and trim pieces, it’s all factory installed. We didn’t catch how many miles are on the car, but it must be well under 100,000. Frank has no plans to do anything with the car other than preserve its originality and enjoy it.
The only modern touch added to the wagon was a set of understated billet wheels wrapped in modern rubber, which Frank added to give the car a little originality. Don’t worry, he still has the factory wheels.
Though wagons don’t share the same following as their sedan brethren, they are growing in popularity, and their value is rising. Frank not only has a great boulevard cruiser that can haul the entire family, he also has a sound investment in this immaculate survivor.