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Big Block Engine Swap: 1984 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser

This classic 1984 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon started out life as a lowly diesel but now has a burly 455 big block under the hood. The seller claims it runs quite well and is originally a southern wagon that had the engine swap completed in the early 90s. The 455 is a Jasper-supplied unit, which should indicate it was fairly fresh at the time of installation. The woodgrain paneling has been stripped away for a driver-quality paint job, and the Oldsmobile is offered here on eBay for a very reasonable $5,500 or best offer.

This generation of GM wagon is already celebrated by enthusiasts, although it’s typically in the classic family truckster tradition with woodgrain side panels and the rear-facing third row. The interior is in good shape – not great – and it sounds like there are some minor issues to sort out for the next owner. The seller notes the wiper switch doesn’t work like it should and there’s a brake warning light illuminated on the dash, but that braking performance doesn’t seem to be affected. Also, the air conditioning does not work.

Those are minor issues overall for having a 455 under the hood, and the looks of a sleeper on the outside. The seller notes he would drive the Oldsmobile across the country right now and that it runs and drives 100 percent. The diesel engine that previously resided here was a disappointment for anyone who got in and punched the accelerator, but it likely also means that the wagon was used fairly gingerly when it was new. Hopefully, this indicates that the rest of the drivetrain is in good order and the 455 has a strong transmission behind it.

I love the fact that the stock wheels remain attached and the factory spoiler and roof rack are still present; and, while we all love the fake woodgrain or at least find it endearing, the Oldsmobile looks pretty slick without it. Although it would destroy the sleeper vibes, I might be tempted to get some larger wheels and tires and lower it a bit, but I could also see leaving it alone and driving as-is, especially if it can be bought for a lower price as it would be quite the bargain. Fix the air conditioning and go road-tripping! How would you use it?


  1. sakingsbury20 Member

    although its not mentioned any where in the ad, I wonder if the seller knows its a Buick motor….I had a ’84 buick estate wagon that was diesel powered (blown) when I bought it and swapped in a olds gas 350 since everything bolted up with the diesel being a olds 350 block….

    Like 5

      good eye. buick 455 is a better motor anyway, lighter and more torque. whats not to love?

      Like 6
      • Cncbny

        Buick motors tick like a timed and timing chains are soft. Olds 455 is actually what was used to start viet nam era fighters because you couldn’t break them!!! As far as the Buick 455? Had one, loved it. Tick’s went away with straight 70 weight motor oil😉

        Like 2
    • Stan

      Rock crusher 4sp make it the boss.

      Like 1
  2. Jack M.

    King of the torque 455 Buick. Road wheels also appear to be off a Buick.

    Like 11
  3. Conrad A

    I like it. It’s far from perfect, but the asking price, as well as the prospect of a lower offer being considered, certainly is in line with the overall condition of the car, and gives a prospective buyer some room to fix a few things without getting quickly underwater. I wonder if whatever donor car supplied the Buick 455 also donated the Buick road wheels? Sure, they’re not correct, but certainly enhance the car’s appearance. These GM wagons were always nice, comfortable,smooth riding cars, and I hope someone buys this one and improves it. It’s worthwhile. Nothing like body on frame construction!

    Like 6

      jasper engines donated it, not a buick. read it a bit better and you shall see.

      Like 1
      • Clark Porter

        Nope, that’s a ’75 or ’76 455 Buick.

        Like 1
  4. Car Nut Tacoma

    I’ve nothing against small block diesel engines if the car around it is built to withstand all that make a diesel engine a diesel engine. I’d drive either an Olds 98 or possibly a Chevy Caprice Classic if I could get it with a 6.2 litre diesel V8 engine.

    Like 1
  5. Jay

    That sucks he removed the diesel engine. By 1984 the kinks had mostly been worked out.

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I agree. Consumers magazines have made the Oldsmobile Diesel engine look like a piece of junk of an engine. Since I’ve never had the opportunity to drive a car with a diesel engine, I don’t pretend to know. But I disagree that it’s a bad engine for a car.

  6. John Member

    Had a VW diesel wagon, only trouble was the key start, lost it’s memory
    a couple times. Got 40 MPG, nice car should kept it.

    Like 1
  7. Carbob Member

    I’ve owned several diesel cars and currently drive a Mercedes E320 CDI pre BlueTec. I love them. Not really happy with the new improved price of diesel however. I’m betting that “Big Oil” will have a very profitable year.

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      It’s insane that anyone would jack up the cost of fuel.


    supply and demand rules in all things including gas Politics that stop things that work and we need is bad for our country. America first,,,,,,

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      That’s usually the case, isn’t it? Supply vs. Demand.

  9. Keith D.

    I can’t count how many times I’ve seen an old school Oldsmobile dressed up with Buick rims Yuck! Can’t stand it

    Like 1
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I’ve never been a fan of Buicks of the 1980s, particularly cars like the LeSabre, Electra, and the Riviera. Perhaps my favourite Buick was the Reatta.

  10. Hemistroker

    Those Olds cookie cutter wheels stopped looking good on the 72 cutlass those Buick wheels look good on any GM simple classic era appropriate sort of like magnum 500’s look good on about any Ford or Mercury

  11. Phil D

    Between the 455 under the hood and the wheels, it’s clear that this car’s owner really would rather have had a Buick.

    Like 1
    • Michael Berkemeier

      …should’ve used a same era Estate Wagon. It would already be sold. This thing is a Frankenstein.

  12. John

    There’s a company called Three Pedals that specializes in these cars. I the pontiac version of this car at LS fest it was an LS3 T56 Magnum combo had their suspension upgrades and chassis braces. It was super fast and super cool. It ended up winning the burn out contest that year. They even did a g-body the next year.

    Like 1
  13. Michael Berkemeier

    Should have transplanted a ’70 Olds 455 and a set of Olds SS1 or SS2’s. Graft some OAI scoops onto the hood and add a couple of W-30 emblems or decals…then, it would have been cool.

  14. RHETT

    Couple of comments:
    First of all – awesome and priced right. These are great road cars , the direct descendant of the 73-77 GM A-Bodies
    Second: Jasper sells both long and short blocks, and probably does not pay attention to deck height during assembly so this is a low compression 455 at best. The valve covers are 75-76 blue, so if this car has 75-76 heads on it too its REALLY low compression, maybe 7.5:1 at best.
    Third: it may have an earlier top end on a Jasper shortblock. The intake shows no signs of an EGR or AIR passages, the air cleaner LOOKS like a 71-72 Riviera unit and some sort of maybe Edelbrock AFB carb, definitely not a Buick Q-Jet. It might be an OK performer with maybe 8.5:1 compression ..
    Fourth – Buick 455 ‘s were never used in Air Force start carts, it was the Buick 401 Nailheads until they had trouble getting parts in the maybe mid 70’s. They were having to send airmen out to local junkyards to grab fresh crankshafts and internals, so they switched to big block Chevy’s. It is said they Chevy’s had an notably shorter service life, but better supported by the aftermarket.

    Like 1

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