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Modern Family Wiki

"The Old Wagon" is the first episode from Season 2 premiere of Modern Family, it aired on September 22, 2010.

Plot Summary

Phil reluctantly agrees to get rid of the Dunphy station wagon, which prompts a wave of nostalgia for the old car. Meanwhile, Cameron enlists Jay's help when Mitchell tries to build a princess castle for Lily and Manny asks a girl to come over to study.

Episode Description

Claire wonders when Phil is going to sell the old station wagon in the garage that has non-functioning seat belts, no fluids added in ten years, and too much room for Haley to put a mattress in it. Phil doesn't want to sell it, but Claire uses a classic from the Reverse Psychology 101 playbook: hint that Phil may not be able to sell it. He can sell anything.

PHIL: You can insult a lot of things about me: my hair, my voice, my balance board exercises. But don't insult my selling. That crosses a line. What line? Oh, you don't see it? That's because I sold it!

They start to clean out the car, but there were things in it. Like the picture of Phil and Claire at the Rose Bowl game (presumably 1995, since they said Penn State kicked their butts), a blanket Haley used to hold...and Luke threw up on, and a jar of sunshine Luke caught because he enjoyed his day at the beach. But none of that matters, because Phil was able to sell the wagon. And he used a 'minimonic' device to remember the guy's name.

CLAIRE: I think it 'mnemonic.'

PHIL: I'd think I'd remember.

But Claire is suddenly sentimental for the car. She doesn't want to get rid of all those memories, But Phil reassures her that they have so many great memories left to make.

Mitchell and Cameron are preparing to build Lily a princess castle, and Cameron made absolutely sure he got a kit to follow, rather than follow Mitchell's sketches from the past. It's perfectly understandable, given that Mitchell is a disaster when it comes to building things. He almost killed Cameron with a nail gun, and Cam wishes he did because he doesn't think he'd make an inspiring disabled man. Certainly this is understandable, as Mitchell wields a nail gun like a bank robber. Cameron calls in for some reinforcements: Jay. Jay vividly remembers Mitchell's lack of expertise in building, ("That was my Vietnam...and I was in Vietnam.") so the two conspire to give Mitchell the easy parts while they nail the walls together and install the roof. However, Mitchell figures it out and is offended. So much so, any rose in their garden getting near his jigsaw will bite it.

Manny has a study-mate coming over to help him with the life cycle of a silkworm. Or what Jay calls a girlfriend. Manny denies it, but he makes sure his hair is just right. Gloria is actually jealous.

GLORIA: In my culture, mothers are very clingy to their sons. In fact, the leading cause of death among Colombian women is when their sons get married. But I'm not like that. I just want Manny to be happy.

And Kelly, Manny's study partner/girlfriend, is already performing the separation by convincing Manny not to eat trans fats, especially in Gloria's cooking. And apparently a pinch of salt in chocolate milk makes it taste really good. And to save space on the planet, Kelly moves all of Manny's papers into her folder. Later on, the final straw is Kelly taking Manny to dinner and a movie. Gloria lays the guilt trip on Manny about it.

GLORIA: I AM a Colombian mother! I'm not going to let him make a mistake that's going to affect him for the rest of my life! HIS life!

Eventually, Manny decides he doesn't want to be tied down to a woman who orders his food for him, so he goes home to Gloria and tells her he wanted to be with a different girl. He calls Alicia, and Gloria can't believe Manny dumps one girl to go out with another, so she berates him (as well as men) for being such an animal for doing so..

Phil decides to give Claire a surprise: he pushes the sale of the car back to the next day and turns the station wagon into a time machine, like Claire wants, and the family will go out for one last picnic. The kids are totally thrilled (not really), but Claire decides they can stop whining and get in the car.

Cameron and Jay discuss Mitchell's need to feel like a man.

CAMERON: He wants to feel like a regular Joe, like you and I. Oh, pardonnez-moi, I prefer the champagne Dijon to the standard yellow. There are certain things that define men: construction, sports. Mitchell just wants to feel like he's part of the man club.

JAY: Isn't that where you guys met?

Mitchell admits that's true, but he also wanted to be able to look at the princess castle and say he built that, like his great-great grandfather took pride in building the Brooklyn Bridge. And Mitchell puts that roof on Lily's castle...and traps himself inside of it.

While on a hill, a sequence of mishaps leads to the car being destroyed by rolling off a cliff. Despite this, the family had a good time. Despite this, they have some great memories of the one final time from the station wagon.

Main Cast

(The characters striked out do not appear in this episode)

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker

Guest Starring

  • Callie Thompson as Kelly


  • Cameron says that Mitch wants to feel like a regular Joe. Joe will be Jay and Gloria's son beginning with  season 4.
  • No recurring characters appear in this episode.


  • The 2010 Rose Bowl featured Ohio State and Oregon not Penn State is stated by Phil.

Cultural References