National Lampoon’s Vacation captured the hearts of millions of Americans in 1983 and has become an iconic reminder of anyone’s ill-fated family trips. The series of movies starring Chevy Chase made the idea of road travel with family infamous by following the Griswolds’ cross-country expedition from Chicago to Los Angeles in their infamous “Family Truckster”. Now that the movie has been seen by multiple generations, the name Griswold has become an institution associated with vacation planning disasters.
So imagine how a real life Steve Griswold must feel today having grown up with a movie that immediately dictates how people perceive him and his family? Well Steve Griswold decided that instead of being teased as a relative of the fictitious Clark Griswold, he would actually own the theme (and the joke) by recreating the highly recognizable Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Yes, the same vehicle that somehow got Clark, his always rationalizing wife Ellen, and the two kids Audrey and Rusty across the country for a day at Walley World lives again. However, in Steve Griswold’s version, the destination is Disney World which certainly meets today’s standard as “America’s Favorite Family Fun Park”.
As for the Griswold’s recreated Family Truckster, it has a lot of the same features as the movie version. The rear wagon door opens up to cargo area that also has rear seating for the kids. That gosh-awful vinyl upholstery of the car’s interior is authentic down to the stitching and door handles. Fortunately, there isn’t any sign of a dead Aunt Edna strapped to the outside roof rack. The Truckster’s body is painted in the recognizable 1979 Ford green paint with chrome trim and faux wood paneling. All reminiscent of a time when an average middle-class family of four could actually afford the gasoline needed to fuel an oversized station wagon.
Unlike in the movie, today’s Griswold family does successfully make it to Disney World every time to meet Mickey and Minnie, spend time at a Disney-themed hotel, and show off the Family Truckster to fans and bewildered guests. In Steve Griswold’s world there is no flying off the end of a highway in southern Arizona. Says Griswold, “It doesn’t work well off-road.” And fortunately, the Griswold family has never had to face an angry SWAT team at the end of their roller coaster ride.
At E3 Spark Plugs, we would love to have a sneak peek under the hood. After all, the replica Family Truckster is such a shocking throwback to yesteryear, we likely have the replacement plugs that would deliver a faster flame for a cleaner burn saving Clark … oops sorry … Steve money at the pump. Now if Steve Griswold could just get the real Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo to reprise their roles and take a spin in the family wagon, it would be the coup of the replication.
Who knows? It just might happen. With E3 spark plugs, we’re sure the Family Truckster can reliably make its way to amusement parks from coast to coast. So get ready Mr. Walley, the real Griswolds could already be on their way.