This 1957 Chevrolet 210 Townsman Station Wagon looked slightly incongruous in its setting when I snapped these pictures this morning. It was parked in a field in western Germany overlooking the town of Remagen and the remains of the Ludendorff Bridge, which was ferociously fought over during World War Two.

Of course, the big US machine wasn't there by accident, but parked adjacent to a gaggle of modern-day Cruzes to emphasise Chevy's estate car roots at the launch of the new Chevrolet Cruze Station Wagon.

Although the modern Chevrolets are fine cars, I wasn't alone in being temporarily distracted by the Townsman. It was hard not to be, given the V8 car's hulking size in contrast to its sleeker modern stablemates.

The 210 Townsman was part of a wave of station wagons produced by Chevy during the 1950s in response to a huge increase in the popularity of such practical, load lugging vehicles in the post-war years. From the end of WW2 to the start of Townsman production in 1953, annual sales of Chevy's station wagon models multiplied by a factor of 12.

Chevy chiefs of the day identified a trend of decentralisation of population centres, particularly in the US, creating a new mode of city-country living and increasing the demand for spacious vehicles capable of transporting whole families.

The Townsman on show in Germany is cavernous inside and beautifully styled, looking remarkably streamlined for a large machine. Sitting on the back bench, which seems big enough to accommodate four, it is surprising how high you perch - almost like a modern-day crossover. Sliding behind the wheel, it feels unfamiliar to reach for the steering column-mounted gear shifter and to grip that enormous wheel. The roof feels a long way away, and you get the sensation of rattling around in the cabin, especially after stepping from the more enveloping, cossetting environment of the Cruze SW.

The Townsman's tailgate area is a work of art, with the lower portion of the split gate sandwiched between distinctive rear fins. The glass of the side windows is ornately curved to meet the upper part of the split gate.

Unfortunately there was no chance to drive the Townsman today, but it was easy to imagine such a car packed to the roof with suitcases, excited kids babbling away in the back seat as Mom and Pop sat up front and cruised towards the seaside.