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Wagon ride: Station wagon catches the eye

Mars Risch has been driving a 1989 Mercury station wagon for about two years. The interior is original as is the exterior. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times1 / 4
The rear storage area of Mars Risch's 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis station wagon. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 4
The view from the front seat of Mars Risch's 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis station wagon. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times3 / 4
Mars Risch stands beside his 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis station wage. The car is about 213 inches, or 17.75 feet long. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times4 / 4

The car draws a lot of looks and comments.

"The last time I drove to the Twin Cities, I got three comments," Mars Risch said. "One guy drove past and said 'Love your car.'"

Other comments include "Cool car man," Risch said.

"At a (Morris) restaurant (several weeks ago), people were taking pictures of it," Risch said.

Risch drives a white 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis station wagon with wood vinyl panels

Risch, of Morris, is originally from Appleton. He found the car in Appleton through a friend's neighbor. "It had been sitting there in the garage for 12 years," Risch said.

"I was looking at getting a new car because mine was starting to fall apart," Risch said.

At the time, Risch was in a band and was thinking of getting a vehicle with room for band equipment.

"We pulled into the driveway, it was perfect, exactly what I wanted," Risch said.

His parents drove a light blue station wagon when he was a kid so that may have something to do with his attraction to the station wagon.

He liked the car but had a mechanic look it over before he decided to buy it.

"Mechanically, it's a great car," Risch said. Because fuel had been left in the car when it was placed in storage, the mechanic needed to do some repairs to the fuel system.

And he needed to take a test drive before he bought it.

"I drove it with my dad (Randy Risch). He was amazed at how smooth it was," Risch said.

Risch said he needed to adjust to the car immediately on that test drive. The station wagon is about 18 feet long.

"The main thing, it was so big," Risch said. He'd been driving a small Oldsmobile prior to the station wagon.

"When you are looking out the rear view mirror (of the station wagon), you look back 20 feet behind you," Risch said. "The hood is like eight feet long."

"When I first started driving, I had to really watch my parking. I'm used to it now," Risch said.

Risch bought the car and got the necessary repairs for about $3,000.

He used the car in Morris and trips to the Twin Cities and on several longer trips. He and several friends drove to a music festival in Somerset, Wisconsin. They slept in the rear of the station wagon where the seats fold down.

He also traveled to Colorado. His grandmother made him curtains before that trip. The curtains match the vehicle's interior and the retro look of the vehicle, Risch said.

The curtains are in a bag in the storage compartment in the back of the vehicle. The storage area is one of the cool features of the station wagon, he said.

Risch didn't do any work on the car's interior or exterior.

"The interior is exactly the same," Risch said. The dashboard is the same and includes a cassette deck stereo. The only flaw is "the leather seats are kind of cracked," he said.

Risch planned to move to California in late May. The station wagon will stay in Morris until he returns for it.

"I don't want to sell it because I love it so much," Risch said.

Yet, it may not be practical in California. He figures the station wagon gets about 15 to 18 miles per gallon. The car may not meet emission standards in California but that can depend on the age of the vehicle, Risch said.

For now, a friend will store the station wagon.