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Chevy Townsman no ordinary grocery-getter

This big red stationwagon with a big-block was likely one of only 28 made for dealer drag races.

Despite her carpal tunnel braces and the absence of power
steering and brakes, Mary muscled this rare beast up from
Barrington, R.I. for the International Station Wagon Club’s 2008
convention in Sturbridge, Mass.

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Chevrolet completed 162,600 full-sized station wagons in the 1970 model year, with the Brookwood, Townsman, Kingwood and wood-paneled Kingswood Estate respectively affiliated with the ultra-basic Biscayne, budget-priced Bel Air and the more luxurious Impala and Caprice. 

Regardless of their trim levels, it’s a sure bet few of these conveyances were as special and exciting as the Cranberry Red Townsman that Richard and Mary Kuhn of Barrington, R.I. recently exhibited at the 2008 International Station Wagon Club convention in Sturbridge, Mass. On top an exterior hue that would have seemed completely in character rushing to a fire, its earth-trembling exhaust note announced the presence of an LS5 454 V-8 producing 390 horses and 500 lbs.-ft. of torque. 

“What we understand is that 28 of these wagons were supposedly built for Chevy dealers to drag race,” Richard Kuhn said, adding that the build sheet also specified a single four-barrel carburetor and a Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmission linked to a 12-bolt positraction axle. As for how he found it: “I was farting around on eBay for one of the Chevelle SS wagons built in 1973, and this was mistakenly listed as a Chevelle. With 64,000 original miles on it, this car has lived a very charmed life” starting with its original purchase by a Chevy dealer in Taos, N.M. “When he died, it ended up with a new owner who completed a frame-off, nut-and-bolt restoration in 2002 and sent it to the Barrett-Jackson auction in 2004. With two weeks to Christmas, it was sitting in San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) and I had the money.” 

Despite the car’s manual steering and manual brakes, it was Mary Kuhn who muscled this extremely rare beast up to Sturbridge for its first show of the season, wearing carpal tunnel braces on her wrists to boot. Even more impressively, she had also worked on the motor until 3 a.m. the night before. “Many years ago, we got stuck on the side of the road while driving our ’68 Corvette to Worcester (Mass.) for the Fourth of July Summer Nationals,” she said. “After four hours sitting there, the man that owned the station where we gassed up came by and immediately solved the problem by jiggling something under the hood. I decided right then and there that if he could start it without tools, I could do this, too. So I started watching over the shoulder of the master mechanic doing our work, and started asking him questions.”

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