Saturday, October 19, 2013

1958 Chevrolet Yeoman 4-door 6-Passenger Station Wagon

"Smart good looks and rugged utility here! The economical Yeoman, with its sturdy vinyl interior and linoleum platform, welcomes hard wear. For fun, there is plenty of color and comfort! And there's traditional Chevrolet quality, too, in the craftsmanship of Body by Fisher, polished lacquer finish and fine materials."

Station wagons enjoy a steady popularity among Cuba's choferes today. Especially taxistas appreciate them because they can cram more people into the car on each trip. It wasn't always the case: in the 40s and 50s, the classic sedan was the car of choice for Cuba's prospering middle-class society. Station wagons generally were surrounded by an aura of being cheap utility vehicles. Their raising popularity among U.S. citizens, moving out into the newly built suburbs in the latter 50s, was a trend that didn't arrive in Cuba before Fidel Castro's Revolution in 1959. And then it was too late, since the new government effectively stopped the arrival of American cars and trends at Cuban shores for the next decades. 

When talking of period station wagons from Chevrolet, many remember the "big" names like Nomad or Bel Air, but hardly anybody seems to know the Yeoman. With good reason, as the Yeoman was an one-time wonder and only available in 1958. New styling and new names was the name of the game at Chevrolet in this year. The short-lived lineup should become replaced by completely new models already in 1959. And so did the Yeoman nameplate.

The Yeoman was Chevrolet's entry into the station wagon world. More affluent customers could also buy a Brookwood, or a Nomad at the upper end of the lineup. Regardless of its entry-level status, the Yeoman sported abundant chrome trim and looked quite flashy — for a station wagon. Inside, it was all plastic fantastic: vinyl upholstery, rubber floor mats and a linoleum-padded trunk might sound terrible today, but, except for the linoleum, these were common interior trim materials in many cars at the time.

To make this spartan interior sound any more interesting, Chevrolet's copywriters had to be imaginative: "You can swab this deck! The Yeoman's not afraid of soapy water. Tough vinyl upholstery, rubber floor mats and linoleum platform make this station wagon interior completely washable — with water and a sponge! Ideal for sportsmen, gardeners, or folks with a fleet of small fry."

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