Daily Driver Wagon: 1977 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

UPDATE 12/06/2022: Some owners experience the frustration of going through the entire auction process only to discover that they have fallen foul of a non-paying winning bidder. Such is the case for the owner of this 1977 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. The previous auction ended with a successful bid of $7,700, but the owner is forced to work through the entire process again. If you missed out the first time but want to take it home, you will find it listed here on eBay in Hayes, Virginia. The bidding has already raced past the reserve and sits at $3.550.

11/28/2022: Despite looking somewhat scruffy, this 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Vista Cruiser sees plenty of use each week, according to the seller. With faded paint and a tired interior, this wagon doesn’t initially impress at first viewing, but you come to love it knowing the seller uses it for hundreds of miles worth of commuting each week. The Vista Cruiser is an icon among domestic long-roofs, and this is a later-production model that doesn’t come up for sale all that often. I love those scalloped side panels from this era of the Cutlass.

The Vista Cruiser has the sort of name recognition that leaves little doubt about what you’ll find in the driveway if your buddy claims to have bought one. While the domestics all shared the same models with different badges (and did this extensively with wagon bodies), each brand put its spin on the nose panel styling. In the case of the Vista Cruiser, it shared the model platform with the Buick Century, the Pontiac LeMans, and the Chevrolet Malibu. Built on the A-Body platform, 1977 marked the final year of this design. As you can see here, the paint is tired, but it also has a pleasant patina that makes its roughshod cosmetics acceptable.

The interior really is the worst of it, as you can get away with the exterior being original. But if you want to spend any amount of time inside, improving the seating surfaces, the carpeting, and the dash pad all seem like must-dos to me. I don’t blame the seller for living with it; after all, you will not likely see your money back on projects like those. But replacing those items would make this Vista Cruiser even more appealing than it already is, as we all know that patina’d exteriors with fully-restored interiors are all the rage. The air conditioning does not work, with the seller noting it needs a new compressor.

The Oldsmobile “Rocket 350” is said to run well and is paired with an equally-reliable TH400 transmission. The seller reports that with his hundreds of miles of weekly driving, there are no issues with the drivetrain. It helps to know that this is one of the rare project cars that will come with a healthy amount of documentation that apparently shows the Oldsmobile has been looked after for quite some time. The seller has recently refreshed the brakes with new wheel bearings, and the tires have just 1,500 miles of use. This looks like an excellent entry point into classic wagon ownership with the opportunity to make improvements that won’t break the bank.

Comments

  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    I always thought that the back of these was a really lousy design,
    & having the tallight/turn signals down low was bad also.
    This being from Northern Virginia,I’d want to see what the underside
    looks like.

    Like 7
  2. Miguel - Mexican Spec

    The wheels are supposed to be the color of the car.

    Why are people bidding so much on a car that essentially needs everything?

    Like 10
    • Bick Banter

      There’s a lot of money floating around in this country now and people want get in before it’s too late, whatever that means. It’ll adjust though. You’ll see that soon enough!

    • Steveo

      Money is pretty much worthless.

      • Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

        Comes in pretty handy around here, bub.

  3. nlpnt

    Judging by the layout of the side moldings, this car originally had woodgrain paneling that was peeled off at some point.

    Like 6
  4. Harvey Member

    Rear end looks like Bertha Butt.

    Like 5
  5. Car Nut Tacoma Washington

    Awesome looking car. IMHO, 1977 was the best year for Oldsmobile in terms of styling. Given its condition, I’d pay close to $7,000 for the car and then restore the car cosmetically to close to like new condition.

    • Ken

      I learned how to drive in a ‘76! It was a total beast! V8, 350 engine. I loved it!! We took many road trips in this. Loved the vinyl seats in the hot sun😂

  6. ChiTownJeff

    This generation Vista Cruiser had the front end from the 76 – 77 coupe and the rest of the car was from the 73 to 77 colonade sedan and wagon with the sculptured sides from the 73 – 75 Cutlass.

    Like 4
  7. George Dray Member

    HMMMMMM. Thought Vista Cruizer’s had the windows in the roof. Just big car only? Vista?????

    Like 3
    • CCFisher

      The “Vista-vent” was standard on the Vista Cruiser from ’73-’75. For ’76 and ’77, “Vista” meant “woodgrain.”

  8. Car Nut Tacoma Washington

    The last year for the Vista roof window version Vista Cruiser was 1972. After that, the only window in the roof was an opening sunroof. Why Olds discontinued the Vista roof window is beyond me. I always thought it was Olds’ best styling decision.

    Like 5
    • JoeNYWF64

      Water leaks? Too expensive to incorprate on later body style changes?

      Like 1
      • Car Nut Tacoma Washington

        It’s possible. That can certainly be a problem.

  9. Randy jones

    The 77 was the last.Gm station wagon for the intermediate models.like the cutlass..my mom had a 76 cutlass..gas mileage was bad..just a heavy car.and no mileage improvements..

    Like 1
  10. DON

    Actually the Olds Cutlass wagons were still around as a mid sized (though downsized) car in 1978 until at least the mid 1980s

    Like 1
  11. Po Dunk

    In 1977 I coulda bought a 71 or 72 Olds Vista Cruiser SW with the windows in the roof 4 $125.It was at a used car lot I worked at.

  12. Car Nut Tacoma Washington

    While I love the styling, are you sure it’s a 1977 model? I think GM changed the styling after 1976. I think this is a 1976 Olds. The last year for the Colonnade styling.

    • Poppy

      This body style continued through 1977. This appears to be a ’77 as the ’76, I believe, still had some round/spherical AC vents on the dash and this one has all rectangular vents.

      Like 2
      • Car Nut from Tacoma Washington

        Okay. I love the Colonnade body look.

  13. Larry S.

    My Dad bought a brand new one in 1977, A/C but no wood paneling. I believe he paid $5600 + TTL.

    I sold the car in 1986 – I think I got $750 for it.

    Like 2
    • Car Nut from Tacoma Washington

      As attractive as wood paneling may be, it can also look tacky. A/C on the other hand, can be a godsend during the hot summer months.

  14. Big C

    Is the seller infirmed? At least wash the darn thing and use the shop vac, before listing.

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma Washington

      I agree. I don’t mind patina, but the interior car needs to be cleaned out.

  15. JoeNYWF64

    IMO, like the badly named 1958 & 1972 Chevy “Nomads”, this wagon did not deserve the Vista Cruiser name – should have been called something else.

    Would have liked to have seen 1 of these Nomads put into production …
    https://www.carstyling.ru/car/1017/
    or
    https://www.carstyling.ru/en/car/2004_chevrolet_nomad/

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