Corvette Engine! 1990 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser Wagon

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As the 1980s unfolded, minivans were invading garages everywhere, but a few wagons were still soldiering along. The Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser was one of these. Made in its modern iteration from 1971 through 1992, the Cruiser is a full-sized platform that by 1990 was on a 115.9-inch wheelbase. That represented a significant downsizing from the ’70s versions at 127 inches. The Cruiser sold in respectable numbers until about 1988 when only 11,114 were sold, and it was downhill from there. The sales decline was not only due to the advent of the minivan – it also corresponded to a slide in horsepower for the heavy car, which by 1990 was offered with a 5.0 liter V8 generating just 140 hp. But if you love old-school wagons, we have a solution for the miserly power trend! Here on craigslist is a 1990 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser with a Corvette engine transplant, at an asking price of $22,900. Fly out and drive it home from Cranston, Rhode Island. Tony Primo sent us this family-friendly tip – thanks!

Nestled in the engine bay is a Corvette 350 cu. in. / 375 hp V8 with tuned port injection. The blueprinted short block was rebuilt with forged pistons and high-performance aluminum heads.  The odometer reads just over 100,000, but the seller doesn’t tell us how many of those miles are on this motor. The transmission is a Turbo 400 automatic, which the seller says contains performance parts. The car also has a stainless steel dual exhaust and electric cooling fans – in case it gets hot under that hood. The Custom Cruiser’s capacious engine bay allows for this type of swap without breaking a sweat. While the underhood real estate isn’t cosmetically perfect, it’s close enough for Cars ‘N Coffee and a few hours would improve it immensely.

The interior is new, and it shows. The Cruiser came with two-row or three-row seating over its production run. The three-row option was popular in the 1970s, substantially outselling the two-row version. In the late 1970s, the tailgate was styled after Ford’s “Magic Doorgate”, opening two ways instead of only in clamshell fashion.

The wheels are from American Racing and they are clad in Michelins. The seller promises us no rust and indicates the paint is great. But a big question hangs over this tidy wagon: what price is tolerable? We found great examples selling from $7k to $10k – clearly the seller believes his car deserves a premium for the motor swap and a refreshed interior. What do you think?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Johnny

    None original, no mention of miles since the swap, 🤔 I’m thinking someone should wake this seller up. I’m thinking 13, maybe 14k. Tops.
    It is nice, but, not as nice as this seller believes. Not in my opinion anyway.

    Like 16
    • Stan

      Good eye on this one.. long live Tony Primo 🙌🥊

      Like 4
    • John

      You’re thinking way too high.. maybe 8k tops. It’s still a cheaply made body\interior and who knows who did what during the swap. Could quickly become a nightmare. Big gamble=cheap

      Like 5
      • jwaltb

        Nestled under the hood or shoehorned?
        It’s hard to tell from the photo.

        Like 2
  2. 19sixty5Member

    Cool wagon, straight forward swap for the old 305, but not $23k cool. The owner could have that much invested, but unlikely to recover it. You never know, but good luck to the seller

    Like 12
    • John

      When you do stuff like this it’s never an “investment”. You did it to do it. God knows how badly it was beat on between stoplights. Anyone going over 8k is foolish . Junkyard motor and transmission? Unknown milage. Everything properly aligned? Balanced? What rear is it?

      Like 3
  3. Robert Proulx

    Nice cruiser, not a fan of the warm setup, it could be easilly relocated to pick up cooler air but if it does put out all them ponies It must really boogie

    Like 5
  4. jrhmobile

    If the seller somehow managed to pull 375 hp out of a long-runner TPI, I’d be amazed.

    Great torquer intakes, but these intakes ran out of air before 6000rpm. And it’s awful hard to build a small block that makes 375 hp with TPI before 6000rpm.

    Like 11
    • Justin Averill

      There’s no way it’s 375 hp! Especially with stock intake runners. Maybe 275

      Like 3
  5. Stan

    Very cool 😎 wagon. 375hp seems lofty but who cares really, it’ll have plenty of go. Love to know the rear gear ⚙️. I’d favor a long legged hwy option. 3.07 be about right w the Turbo Hydramatic 400.

    Like 5
  6. Robert Levins

    13-15k is about right for this car. Sorry – although they are cool and the engine upgrade is great, they just don’t command much. Unless they are all original and low miles AND fully loaded. I’d definitely consider this car but only for a reasonable price. It would look good in my garage though …… Nice article!

    Like 4
    • FireAxeGXP

      Robert thanks! You took the words right outta my mouth. So to speak.

      Like 1
  7. Robert Levins

    For a rarities sake – Oldsmobile DIDN’T upgrade the front clip on these wagons like they did with the Chevys, Pontiacs and for that reason this car has literally the same front clip as a 1980. Interesting. Cool car. Too expensive.

    Like 3
  8. Terrry

    That is the dumbest “cold air” intake I’ve ever seen. Not going to be a lot of cold air in a hot engine bay.

    Like 8
    • Chunk

      It’s, like, MAGICALLY stupid. I’ve got shoes smarter than that intake.

      Like 3
  9. Anonymous1

    A nice, clean example of a nice wagon that finally got the engine it really deserved. It was too bad it took GM all the way until 1994 to put some decent power in their land yachts.

    But grey over beige?? I know finding a matching interior was probably a stretch, but still.

    Like 4
  10. Steve Flowers

    My take is that the price is hoping to recoup a lot of money spent. At about 10k less it would be something to look at. Nice wagon though, bet it’s a blast to drive.

    Like 1
  11. Gary Gary

    Bad-ass build! I like it.

    Like 2
  12. MikeG.

    GM badge engineering at it’s finest !

    Like 2
  13. JD

    Dreamer! If he can find someone who’ll pay $23k for that car, he’d better snatch the cash out of the guy’s hands and run. They are nice cars, but like everyone else on here thinks, I think he is way over a fair price for the car.

    Like 2
    • John

      Looking for a glassy eyes kid to buy? But yeah this is going to sit for many many years until the seller takes the 99th offer of 8k. And that’s even a stretch

      Like 2
      • 19sixty5Member

        Tell you what, I’ll take 3 at $8k. Worth far more than $8k, that’s a joke. That is more out of line than the $23k asking price…

        Like 1
  14. C Force

    You could always add a turbo with a manual boost controller and i’m sure there’s room for a intercooler behind the can gain about 10hp for every pound of boost…

    Like 1
  15. Pasquale Bellomo

    Wow a lot of people put the price of this car down 👎👎…. But put into perspective that a 1999 rust bucket dodge Durango could cost $10,000 or $15,000 with low miles ok so it has 4WD the 1990s Chrysler transmissions missions where junk always breaking, that thing rusted out in five years, the interior was nothing to write home about…. On the plus side this wagon while not a great shiny plether, or 15 inch touch screen, or hold my butt in place BMW seats… It’s mostly redone try and find another one restored with no rust… GOOD LUCK! what I would do is talk him down to $15,000 take this beautiful wagon beast home and put an LS motor in it with fuel injection and not worry about it getting to hot, maybe add shocks and performance brakes, and yes a touch screen radio with a killer sound system and keep the rest of the interior original! I love wagons and old school 70s and 80s vans minivans… They at least back then had not style it’s a box on wheels while very useful I would rather have wagon like this.

    Like 2
    • MikeG.

      Yet again, the. LS contingent checks in…its becoming a bit
      Tiresome !

      Like 2
  16. Wilburn Shook

    I have read all the comments up to this point. I will not get into the price and engine talk. I like Oldsmobile’s. I had a 1976 Delta 88 Royale, with the Y61 package. I would keep it as is. I would get rid of those mags! Awful looking on this car! Get some factory rims like they could have been ordered with. I am one who prefers the stock look, but leaves one surprised by the performance.

    Like 2

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