As It Happens

Real-life Griswold family builds custom replica of Wagon Queen Family Truckster

Living the Lampoon. Steve and Lisa Griswold decided to embrace their last name and build a station wagon that would make 80s film family man Clark Griswold proud.
The Griswold family with their custom-built station wagon (Steve and Lisa Griswold)
It was time to embrace their last name.

On July 29, 1983, life changed for Steve and Lisa Griswold. That fateful summer day National Lampoon's Vacation hit the silver screen. The film would become a cult classic and spawn a series of Vacation movies. But Steve and Lisa had a problem. They happened to share the same last name as the eccentric family. It became a running joke amongst friends. But when the real-life Griswold couple became a real-life Griswold family they came up with an idea.

"We finally took the plunge and were like 'okay let's build it,' Steve tells As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch.

The couple decided to embrace their name and take their two young daughters on a road trip just like the fictitious Griswold family. But it didn't stop there. They wanted to travel in the same iconic station wagon from the film - the Wagon Queen Family Truckster.

The replica Wagon Queen Family Truckster in all its glory. (Steve and Lisa Griswold)

After tracking down a comparable 84' Ford LTD Country Squire the couple set to work building the memorable automobile from the film.

"We took it to a friend of ours who owns an auto repair shop...we ended up finding the paint colour...vacation green...and getting an extra set of headlights...redoing the back windows…. tail lights and putting the gas on the hood...we redid the whole thing to make it look exactly like it," Steve recalls.

They thought the project would take two weeks. But Steve concedes that in the end it took "six months and a lot more money...than we ever expected."

Lisa admits it took a while for her daughters to warm up to the new family ride. She recalls her eldest daughter asking. "Are you kidding want me to get in that?"

"She didn't realize the vision...she didn't have the big picture."

But after six months of work and $20,000 in repairs, the picture is now in focus.

The family has driven the revamped wagon to Disney World, Graceland and along Route 66 to the original "Wally World'" featured in the first Vacation film.

And in true Griswold fashion, there were modifications along the way. When asked about the luggage rack, Lisa recalls, "We hear this noise… and I'm running up the highway trying to fetch our luggage...we eventually just turned it into a prop."

But the latest development is what has really persuaded the kids. The wagon is set to become a celebrity in its own right now that the directors of the new Vacation movie have asked to rent the vehicle from the family.

Steve and Lisa Griswold with Chevy Chase - aka Clark Griswold - at the premier of the new 'Vacation' film. (Steve and Lisa Griswold)

The Wagon Queen Family Truckster 2.0 will be featured in the film that opens this week.

As Steve explains, "It's kind of touring around...I'm not even sure where it is...I just see photos of it show up all over the place."