Big in Berlin – Lucille is a 1972 Ford Country Sedan turned German

For every thought you entertain about importing a small European city car to the United States and let it loose on the endless prairie roads that will shrink it even further, there’s a counterpart trying to happen. Take an enormous American car, a station wagon as long and wide as you get, and bring it over to Central Europe where the streets are narrow and crowded, “Fun-Sized!”. On Berlin streets where a Volkswagen up! is king, you would be hard pressed to find a car less at odds with its surroundings than a 1972 Ford Galaxie Country Sedan, in wagon form.
A friend of mine, Philipp, did exactly that. A long-time fan of classic Americana, he wanted something quintessentially large and in charge, so he could ship it to his neighbourhood of Kreuzberg, Berlin. Luckily, since a fellow petrolhead will happily try to make dreams come true for another from the other side of the planet, a friend of his sourced him exactly what he wanted, gave it a once-over to see everything was in correct order, and sent it on its way across the Atlantic.
Fast forward to a couple months later, and I was in Berlin. After seeing the sights you have to, I happily took the chance to check out Lucille. Yes, that’s her name. Suits her, doesn’t it?

Parked in a tight garage, the wagon sleeps next to a dusty Thunderbird.
This is Philipp’s other runabout, a battered-but-proven 1979 Kadett.
There’s a 400 cubic inch Cleveland V8 under Lucille’s hood, producing some 200hp and 400Nm of torque. The car has an odometer reading of 35 000 miles and change, and for a little-old-lady car as it’s known to be, it’s fitting. There have been a couple of occasions where Lucille has been just a little large for its surroundings, even in its home land, and Philipp has strived to fix some of those marks – but not all, as patina does belong to the car.
Some lighting adjustments had to be performed to make Lucille fit to be registered in Germany, but her immigration process was largely painless. The marker lights up had a second bulb added in them for white light, but that’s probably not too big of a stray from originality.
The car’s dimensions are humbling, but the 1972-built wagon still does without the railing-sized 5mph impact bumpers. In comparison to those, Lucille’s detailing is delicate, even.
And the cargo area’s size is certainly commendable. A case of Dutch beer looks very alone in there. The seats fit eight persons, in case you need to haul something else than brewery products.
“I’d rather be sailing”, boasts the licence place frame. And that’s what it felt like, going for a drive. The car sounds great, and around the Berlin streetcorners there was a touch of possibly-clichéd Cold war feel about it all. The Beach Boys soundtrack was spectacularly out of place, but it fit the V8 bellow extremely well.

[Images: Copyright 2015 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]

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  1. MrDPR Avatar

    Shortly after arriving in Germany, I bought a 1974 Ford Gran Torino wagon from a fellow serviceman for about $800. 351. AT and the worst shade of green ever painted on a non-military vehicle. A tune-up, brakes all around and tires were all it needed. I drove it for 2 years before deciding upon a really nice, and nearly new BMW 733i. What a tank that "mid" sized Ford was.

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    Whoa, it's a transplant from SoCal. As for the headlights, been there, done that. I used to run Cibie' low- and high beam headlights on my '68 Bonneville. Of course I had to swap them out and put in the original sealed beams before going for the annual state safety inspection, since the Cibie' lamps weren't DOT marked ("FOR MOTORCYCLE USE ONLY" in the U.S.), and then swap them back in after the inspection.
    And of course a Country Sedan is a wagon only. Why did they use the name "Sedan"? You got me. The woodgrain version is the Country Squire. When I was in high school in the '70s, we would occasionally carpool in a friend's parents' metallic brown '72 Country Sedan. Other days it would be a '68 Ford Fairlane 4-door sedan (302 2-barrel), a '64 Plymouth Valiant 4-door (Slant Six with a pushbutton automatic), or for a real treat, one guy's mom's '74 Mazda RX-4 4-door with 5-speed.

  3. longrooffan Avatar

    Nice Longroof! Interestingly enough, the only woodgrain on this Sedan is on the spoiler behind the luggage rack on its roof.

  4. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I love hearing about guys who go through all sorts of extra effort to do stuff in life that makes no logical sense, just because it feels cool.

    1. longrooffan Avatar

      Tanshanomi…mind dropping me an email? I need some info about an Agusto. You can get me at my Copyright Hooniverse name at aol. Thanks.

    2. mdharrell Avatar

      Ah. In that case, I just acquired a vehicle from the other side of the country primarily for the semiotic frisson it creates between signifier and signified. Now that's my idea of a good time.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        "…primarily for the semiotic frisson it creates between signifier and signified."
        That's pretty highfalutin' science-y talkification there, Mister.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          It's probably just the influence of the designer/manufacturer, who is one of those artsy, authory, New Yorker types.

    3. hairy palms blind Avatar
      hairy palms blind

      Yeah, like trying to live with a beautiful woman, for example.seems like a good idea at the time, but not really worth the trouble

    4. crank_case Avatar

      This totally resonates with me, I'm based in Ireland and am getting closer to putting together my semi-attainable dream fleet, that I can divide into, "needs", "wants", and "now you're just being silly". Needs is currently covered by a Honda Accord. Wants is covered by a Eunos Roadster 1.8 B2 Limited (Miata), no better way to have fun once you get out onto our huge network of small twisty rural roads. So far so predictable… but I aspire to the silly section, which would totally be along the lines of the car featured, a full size US wagon or saloon, doesn't even need to be a "performance" oriented model as the roads don't really allow much space for messing about, there's no proper drag strips here (nearest is on the next island in Englands Santa Pod), and it'd be lost at a track day. I'm not even sure I have anywhere to keep it as even the Eunos already normally lives in a friends garage rather than the terrible parking in the poorly laid out tiger era housing/apartment development where I live, and my wife would hate it. (She totally gets the Eunos, but old Wagons are where she draws a blank). Still…I want one…
      Meanwhile in Texas, someone is probably plotting how he can get an early 00s three cylinder Polo TDI into country… 😀

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        For the right price, I'll be glad to ship you a '91 Town Car with 150K that needs a paint job and a little TLC.

        1. crank_case Avatar

          Tempting, but we've got this cruel thing called Vehicle Registration Tax, which is a tax on top of a tax. Take the price of the car, add your regular import tax, and now take a percentage of that based on emissons, which for a town car, would be right out of the ballpark by EU standards, so 35% of the total on top of everything. Once I'd lubed up with vaseline and paid that, there would still be an annual road tax of around $2100 a year, because it's got a "hooj" engine over 3 litres. I should point out that this craziness is Ireland specific rather than reflective of the EU. The powers that be still view internal combustion with suspicion as some sort of foreign debauchery.
          However… this can all be neatly sidestepped by buying a "Vintage" vehicle, which is anything over 30 years old, which means I only pay a smaller fixed VRT amount and about 60 dollars a year road tax. So it means I need to look at pre-84 stuff, putting me right in the middle of malaise era decadance, because the cool 60s stuff is probably out of budget, or just wait til 2021 to take up on your offer, by which time the Eunos will probably be finally the way I want it.

  5. BuickButt Avatar

    This is so rad. And I'm a sucker for old stickers like the Exxon and aaa stickers. There was this late sixties ranchero in my fiancé's old neighborhood that had Nixon '68 stickers in the rear window. The bedside was dented to shit, definitely this guys driver…

  6. OA5599 Avatar

    BFD '72 fits it well.

  7. ptschett Avatar

    There's something you wouldn't even see every day in its home country anymore.
    My Cougar ('73) had the same door handles and rear side markers. I seem to remember that fiddly little heat exchanger adjacent to to the A/C compressor pulley from either that car's 351C, or from the 400's in the late-70's F-150's that were the family farm's work trucks till the early '00's.