Family Rocket: 1973 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser

Josh MortensenBy Josh Mortensen

UPDATE 1/23/13 – After bidding topped out around 12k a few times, the seller has decided to re-list the car with no reserve.

From 10/25/12 – Looking at this 1971 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, you would think it’s just been restored. In reality this car was parked in the original owner’s garage for 38 years and is completely original. About a year ago, their son pulled it from the garage and put it for sale. The second owner has decided to let someone else enjoy this survivor. If you’ve been looking for a big family wagon with a big V8, this one can be found here on eBay.

It is obvious that this family wagon was used, but well maintained. During the ’70s, few cars were given rust protection from the factory, so customers could pay to have their car treated with Ziebart. Shortly after purchasing the car, the owner had it coated, which would help explain why it’s in such great shape.

The Custom Cruiser was the largest family wagon in the Oldsmobile lineup and could easily carry the whole family in comfort. With 86,000 miles on the odometer, it’s hard to believe that this is the original interior, but the seller claims it is. The previous owner’s son claims they only used it for family vacations and was otherwise parked in the garage.

This big wagon weights nearly 5,400 lbs. and needed a big engine to push it around. To hurtle it down the highway, Oldsmobile stuffed their 455 cui V8 into it. The Rocket V8 was offered with as much as 400 hp, but we would guess this is the 280 hp unit. The seller still has all the service records and just recently had the A/C system serviced. They claim everything is in working order and that the car is ready to be driven.

These were popular cars for demolition derbies, so there aren’t many left in this kind of condition. This would make for an interesting family hauler, but it definitely won’t be easy on the wallet when you pull up to the gas pump. The seller’s reserve has yet to be reached and we aren’t sure what a wagon in this condition is really worth. How much do you think would be a realistic asking price?

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Comments

  1. James Wallhauser

    Great wagon, and would make a great tow vehicle. Small point, I’m not sure it’s “all original”. Aren’t those Buick wheels? They look great anyway.

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  2. Utesman

    ’73 Olds fullsize Olds 455’s were 225(single exhaust), 250(duals). There was NO 400-horse Olds motor after 1970.

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    • RJ

      Sorry to say that your wrong, I owned a 73, that dyno’d out 435 hp

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      • Jeff V.

        I think he meant stock, not modified! 😉

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      • Russ

        Dyno’d at the rear wheels or crank?
        I don’t believe that by ’73 they were making any ~1hp/c.i. V8’s.

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  3. twwokc

    Yes, those are Buick wheels.
    I want this one so bad I can taste it but have absolutely no use for it.

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  4. Rancho Bella

    Diggin’ on the family Truckster………….yep……I would question the 400 h.p as well. Me thinks it ain’t so.

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  5. paul

    Fantastic & old ” Clam Shell “, who cares if it doesn’t have 400 HP or if someone along the way put some Buick wheels on it , the interior says it all, as well as the engine compartment & everything else, the Question is would it even fit in my garage?

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  6. ranger herb

    My dad had a 73 Chevy Caprice stationwagon which was virtually identical. What a pig. I liked the stationwagon he had before that 73, it was a 67 Chevy with a 396 in it, that boat would run, the 73 was a disappointment in performance to a lead-footed youngster.

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  7. Timo

    The name of the game with this beauty is Torque, and that 455 motor has plenty of it!! What a cruiser this would be for the power tour or other trip to my favorite track!

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  8. Jeff

    Great car if gas were .50c/gal. I luved the vista cruisers with the roof window panels. Hurst even partnered with Olds to make a Hurst/wagon, it was around 69’/70′ though.

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  9. Larry

    WOW !!! It’s great to see a car of this age in this condition. Perfect for family cruises. Who cares if it’s a “pig” it’s a classy “pig” and I’d be proud to own it.

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  10. Chris

    1974 was the year that the new EPA standards really took hold and the performance of the engines suffered. Take away the ac unit and the reddish heater hose and look at all the plumbing they had to use to make this thing compliant. That said, I love this wagon including the crank windows. What fun to pull up to a Trader Joe’s on a Saturday morning in this monster wearing my flaired jeans and leather coat and stuff it in next to a couple of Prius’ and Forester’s.

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    • paul

      Chris, 74 was the last year of the non catalytic converters cars, & leaded gas. By 75 when US cars had cat’s installed & gas became lead free this was when the cars became heavily smog controlled.

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      • Jeff

        Chris/Paul…Actually 71′ was when the horsepower ratings began to dip, by 72′ they were in a freefall. Check any Chiltons manal for reference e.g. 70′ 350 LT1/370h.p., 71′ 350 LT1/330h.p., 72′ 350 LT1/255h.p….

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      • paul

        Jeff agreed but 75 was the real nail in the coffin with the cat’s & unleaded.

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    • Darrell

      HA HA HA! I was thinking exactly the same thing Chris! I’d be sure to park it right next to the Prius plastered with lefty bumper stickers. Good Lord, how fun it would be to pile the wife and kids into this thing and drive it to some fun vacation destination.

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  11. Timmy Kennedy

    So pops added some flashy rims and a cassette player… If I had 10 grand right now I would be bidding… I would kill to drive the kids to school in this than the rice burner soccer mom van I am stuck with right now…..

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  12. Bill

    OK, I’ve looked again – How do I get to see this thing on eBay by clicking on the link above? All I get is a generic advertising eBay page with links to everything buy the station wagon.
    Thanks!

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    • Barn Finds

      Bill, have you checked if cookies are disabled in your browser? We have had a few people say this happened and that seems to be the problem. Hope that helps.

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  13. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    A bunch of us went on a long trip thru Eastern Canada in one of these once when it was still a new car. What I remember is how BIG it was—swallowed all of us and our stuff with ease—and how you could go any speed all day long in air conditioned comfort no matter how much weight was packed inside or how big the hills were. There was a downside: it used a LOT of gas, but the upside was that it only cost about 40 cents a gallon.

    Normally I don’t like big cars but from that trip I began to understand how someone with a big family could want one of these for trips, either to the grocery store or across the country. For its size and carrying capacity it was a bargain.

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  14. 455Bob

    Yes, those are Buick wheels. The Olds spoke wheel covers of this era were very nice. Nice to see that this web site recognizes domestics that are a little on the wierd side of the bell curve.

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  15. Marc Robertson

    SWEET ride. Wish I could afford to have it sitting around. Takes me back to my teenage years.

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  16. FRED

    ALL THIS BEAST NEEDS IS AN OLD CADDY MOTOR ,HEADERS BIG DUAL EXHAUST PIPES,BIGGER TIRES IN THE BACK,KEEP THE BUICK WHEELS AND YOU HAVE A CAR WORTH TAKING ON ANY CRUISE….JUST MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A HUGE BANK ACCOUNT IN ONE OF THE BANKS THAT OUR IDIOT LEADER BAILED OUT TO PAY FOR THE GAS AND YOU WILL BE FINE…..

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    • Darrell

      Oh Fred, can’t we even escape from all this in this marvelous 70s nostalgiafest? At least turn the caps lock off.

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    • Duaney Member

      Olds motor 10 times better than the Caddy. Caddy has the ridiculous oil pump in the front aluminum timing cover, takes forever to pull oil from the pan, usually takes out all the bearings.

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  17. Lon Lofgren

    OMG!!! My High School choir teacher drove one of these! It was even the same color! I can just picture Mrs. Stables behind the wheel! It’s weird, but I didn’t see this one as being so huge back then. We had a ’70 Vista Cruiser, and it felt mid-sized by comparison!

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  18. Rene

    Maybe this car could be good for a young family – if they can affort the gas.

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  19. Chris

    I have a Pa friend that needs this car. He also qualifies for the bumper sticker that says “I own oil wells”. This has to be more comfortable than any van. Is this the one where the tailgate window rolls down into the tailgate? Do I also recall that either Olds or Buick made a wagon with a very tall rear end gear that was called the Highway Cruiser? This could be a perfect long trip car, I’m surprised the vinyl siding looks so good, that stuff used to fade and peel like mad in the summer.

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  20. Jeff

    *SOLD* Less than 11K.

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  21. carl

    i got me a car and fits about 20 so hurry up and bring your gas tank money ,it’s a big car that fits about 20 baby

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  22. Timmy

    I belive the song goes….. I got my Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale and it’s about to set sail! I got me a car, it seats about 20 So come on up and bring your jukebox money.

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  23. Duaney Member

    Either the pictures are wrong, or this is a 71 with a 73 front clip.

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    • Brad

      Check again, Duaney. This car is totally correct.

      I love these full size wagons, poor fuel economy be danged. My 80 year old father has driven his 2004 Toyota Tundra 4X4 with the 4.7 V-8 from Cali to Virginia, and several destinations in between, for the last 4 or 5 years, and it maintains a smidge over 14 mpg, which is considerably less than this grand luxo-barge will get. I would guess it could achieve 18-20 mpg when properly tuned and proper tire pressure. I’ve always wanted one, and this one fits the bill perfectly !

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    • Brad

      This wagon is a 1973, not a ’71. Sorry, Duaney, my bad.

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  24. Ktander

    Grew up riding in and learned to drive on a dark blue one just like this (same year). My dad was the original owner. The owner of this one was wise to get Ziebart. Ours was Swiss cheese by the time I started driving in 1985 (salty WI roads). I remember it soaked up the highway though. And, it actually had great acceleration, and got 16-17mpg on a tank of unleaded, which is amazing for a 5,400# car. Ah memories.

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  25. Amy N.

    I always think about this car on 4th of July. We had some great trips to Lake Michigan in this old wagon. This was my dad’s car…as in, my dad was the original owner of this exact car. And I would like to point out, my dad did not put those Buick wheels on her. That must have been done by the person who bought it from my brother. Dad was a purist, and he sure was proud of the Olds. The only car he ever bought brand-new off the showroom floor. She’s still pretty!

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