Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

49k Original Miles: 1968 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

The demise of new domestically-produced Station Wagons means American buyers must turn their attention to classics to avoid climbing aboard a van or an SUV. This has seen values rise, but with no signs of the trend easing, the right vehicle can represent a sound long-term investment. Such could be the case with this 1968 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. It is an unmolested survivor needing little to lift its presentation to a higher level. With a genuine 49,000 miles on a bulletproof drivetrain, it could offer its new owner years of faithful motoring pleasure. It is listed here on Craigslist in Sylmar, California. The price of admission is $16,000 OBO, and I must acknowledge the well-tuned radar of Barn Finder T.J. for spotting another wonderful classic.

Oldsmobile introduced its Second Generation Vista Cruiser in 1968, with the range receiving annual cosmetic changes until replaced by the Third Generation in 1973. The Second Generation has a claim to fame that many people forget. It seems everyone remembers the Wagon Queen Family Truckster from the National Lampoon’s Vacation movie. Still, few remember that the car Clark Griswold traded on it was a Sandalwood 1970 Vista Cruiser. This Wagon emerged from the line two years earlier finished in Teal Frost Metallic. The indications are it has spent its life in a dry climate, helping explain its lack of rust. The UV rays have taken a toll on its paint, and a cosmetic refresh would help its cause enormously. However, this isn’t essential if the new owner wishes to pursue the preserved survivor path. The panels are straight, and the tinted glass, including the defining pieces in the roof, is in good order. A few trim pieces are missing, but the seller has replacements for some parts. Overall, the impression this Vista Cruiser makes as a straightforward restoration project is positive.

Lifting the Vista Cruiser’s hood reveals a section of hanging insulation and a 350ci V8. It sends 250hp to the road via a three-speed Turbo Hydramatic transmission, with power assistance for the steering and brakes adding to the effortless driving experience. Although outright performance wasn’t the first priority for most buyers, the ability to cover the ¼-mile in 17.3 seconds was considered impressive for a Station Wagon capable of swallowing eight people. The seller indicates the Wagon is currently on a “non-op” but that it runs and drives as well as it did when it rolled off the line. The engine is strong, the transmission is smooth, and it has a claimed 49,000 original miles on the clock. They don’t mention verifying evidence, making that a question worth asking.

This Vista Cruiser’s interior has good and bad points, with the lack of rips and tears on the vinyl upholstered surfaces a positive. The carpet is tired, the dash pad and wheel are cracked, and the headliner might show some early seam separations. Some issues will be easier and cheaper to address than others. A carpet set retails for $250, while good secondhand wheels consistently appear for under $150. The dash pad will likely cause heartache because finding a new one is challenging. I located a spotless secondhand pad, but at $850, it represents a significant investment. The buyer could attempt a home restoration using a product like Polyvance or throw an $80 cover over it and employ the “out of sight, out of mind” approach. It isn’t loaded with optional extras, but the original owner specified ice-cold air conditioning, an AM radio, and the versatility of third-row seating. That makes this beauty a genuine eight-seater.

People once bought Station Wagons to cart around a growing family or transport large loads. Times change, and many now view these vehicles as the ideal tool for embarking on family adventures. This is reflected in rising values, with ’68 Vista Cruiser prices climbing by nearly 25% across the board in the past year. The trend shows no sign of easing, meaning a fresh coat of paint and its few interior trim issues addressed could see this classic comfortably command a value of $25,000. This could be the ideal candidate if a classic wagon is on your Wish List. It has only been on the market a few days, and I suspect you may need to act fast to park it in your driveway.


  1. Maggy

    Always liked these.Cool car that’s priced right.I’m sure he’d take 15k cash. That savings could help with the dash expense and steering wheel restoration as well as headliner and carpet.It’ll sell fast.Nice car.I’d love to own it.Glwts.

    Like 9
    • Mitchell

      Repaint, probably not original miles, needs work. Way overpriced.

      Like 2
  2. Old greybeard

    Decent price for a hot classic, people are snapping these up. Wouldn’t be surprised thats a $33 upgrade 350, with that orange air cleaner I bet its the 4bbl high compression 310hp.

    Like 7
    • Allen L

      A relative had a 1968 4dr sedan with that engine.
      I can attest it’s “Rocket” name was well eared.

      Like 5
  3. mercedes 600

    Where’s the wood?

    Like 3
    • Joe Padavano

      Lost in the repaint, along with the silver accent below the lower side trim.

      Like 3
  4. Joe Padavano

    The air cleaner shows that this is the RPO L74 4bbl 350, rated at 310 HP. The transmission is the TH375, which is the light-duty version of the TH400.

    Like 5
    • Kevin

      So they used those in the wagons too?, I thought the TH375 was only used on some of the old Chevy trucks.

      Like 0
  5. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking car. I’ve always found the Olds Vista Cruiser an interesting car.

    Like 5
  6. Car Nut Tacoma

    I’m not against the SUV and van. I think they both have their advantages. Vans have more cargo area than a standard car, and depending on the vehicle, the SUV can be capable of going off road as needed. But like most car enthusiasts, even I like the classic car and station wagon.

    Like 4
  7. Mike Manship

    Could just be another craigslist scam

    Like 2
  8. Mike B

    Debarked & ready for the car pool lane.

    Like 1
  9. Gary Gary Member
  10. Stumble Bumm

    I would estimate that maybe half of those miles are original miles. The rest are regular miles.

    Like 3
  11. Tbone

    Sir, your comments are inscrutable

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.