Luxury Wagon: 1963 Cadillac Vista Cruiser

1963-Cadillac-Vista-Cruiser

When was the last time you saw one of these? I bet the answer was never because this seems to be the only one in existence. The seller claims that it is the holy grail of Cadillacs! I’m not so sure about that, but the combination of a Vista Cruiser’s roof line with the plush accommodations of a Cadillac make this one worth a look. You won’t be able to experience it for cheap though. The seller is asking $38k here on eBay in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. That seemed high to me, but Cadillac wagons are always intriguing so I did a little digging…

estate-sale-cadillac-wagon

Turns out that another one of these sold at a big estate sale earlier this year for $24,500. The auction house claimed that it was one 0f four, but I have a sneaky suspicion that there is actually only one and that it is the same car as the one featured here. Cadillac never built a wagon of their own, so a few coachbuilders performed their own conversions. I couldn’t find any proof that this was one of theirs though so I’m guessing that it was someone’s custom creation. That doesn’t make it any less cool, but it probably does effect the collector value.

vista-cruiser-ad

I want to believe that this was a factory offering, but the main problem with that theory is that Vista Cruiser was not released until 1964. It was known for its unique roof which featured skylights and a raised roof section. Oldsmobile must have been influenced by the futuristic Scenicruiser bus that Greyhound had been using since the fifties. I may be wrong there, but the similarities between the looks and the names of the two do make me wonder. Can anyone confirm or debunk my theory?

1963-Cadillac-Vista-Cruiser-rear

There wasn’t much information available about the car when it sold and it seems that the new owner hasn’t uncovered much more about this wagon’s origins. At least they don’t reveal the details in their auction listing. As much as I would love to own something like this, I would need to have a little more information about its pedigree before divvying up that kind of cash. The car has been on the market since September with the bidding not quite reaching $24k the first time around. Since that time it has been relisted a few times with optimistic Buy-It-Nows. So, what do you think it will ultimately sell for?

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Comments

  1. Tirefriar

    Wow, this is a holy grail of big wagons. Too rich for my blood but if I could swing it… I loved all the pictures in the ad until the very last one…who brought out the Doberman?

    • Woodie Man

      lol.

      Thats supposed to make you want to buy it!

      For a 14,000.00 bump!

    • krash

      .”…doberman…”

      ….thanks for the giggle, Tirefriar…

  2. garybrown9

    this cadywagon reminds me of the ’59 cady in ghostbusters. who ya gonna call?

  3. Dolphin Member

    Googling “Cadillac Vista Cruiser wagon” brings up photos of quite a few vehicles like this. There are different designs and years of Cadillacs they are based on, so it looks like there might have been a small market for them over a few years. I don’t think this is as unique as the seller says.

    One possibility for the manufacturer is Superior Coach Company, which made funeral coaches and also ambulances. I have a few of their brochures from around the early 1960’s but none of them show a Vista Cruiser type wagon. The brochures I have show only “commercial” cars for specific uses. But it’s possible that Superior or a company like it made a few Caddy wagons to test the waters, or maybe to sell into a very small custom market.

    There was a company in England called Harold Radford that did that. They converted Aston Martins like the DB5 into a wagon configuration called a “Shooting Brake”. I guess British sportsmen would put their guns and dogs on the back when they went hunting. There’s a picture of one here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aston_Martin_DB5#mediaviewer/File:Aston_Martin_DB5_Shooting_Brake.jpg

  4. DREW V.

    Is it possible that this was a custom-built Flower car for a funeral home??? I recall seeing a 59′ eldo wagon years ago that was a flower car and was not a converted ambulance or hearse…

  5. Jeff

    The Caddy has a 1965 or 66 Vista Cruiser grafted on.

  6. Charles

    Even though there is a similiarity in the looks of this car and an Olds Vista Cruiser, I doubt if the parts came directly from that F-85/Cutlass based B body car. The Caddy is a full sized body, and a Vista Cruiser is an intermediate car of much smaller proportions. The width of the roof would be too narrow to do a direct graft, and the length is probably different also. Granted the builder could have split the roof in the middle and widened it out, and they could have had a custom made front glass made to fit, however that brings more questions to the table. What ever it is from the pictures it looks like some quality body work. Many of the homemade conversions I have seen over the years did not look so good when you look closely. This one looks better then a 50 footer, which leads me to believe that someone or company knew what they were doing, and that makes it less likely to be a backyard project.

    Like 1
  7. Slim Chance

    Looks like a hearse. Reminds me of a horse drawn one. Ain’t nobody flagging me down looking for a discount haul to the graveyard.

  8. Dave

    If this is a custom build I’d hope the builder took the time to strengthen the frame. The first thing I noticed different between the caddy and the Olds vista model is the absence of a “B” pillar between the doors on the caddy. With the distance between the “A” pillar and the “C” pillar I would think theres a little room for body flex. I know this car sits on a full frame, but wasn’t there a little extra strengthening added to convertables and models with no “B” pillars? Just wondering ?

    • Chuck

      This was most likely a built from a factory original four door hardtop that did not have a B pillar. I am sure the designers took into consideration the lack of a B pillar and designed the frame accordingly. I really doubt adding the extended roof line would be a structural issue.

      • Tirefriar

        The welded connections on 4 rear corners would reduce roof flex during cornering

      • Tirefriar

        The designers never intended this model to be a station wagon. The pillarless design was compensated with a much smaller roof area that was reinforced with thick C pillars and inner quarter panel structures. There was also a parcel shelf and a body panel below the back glass that tied the quarter panels together on the regular sedan. Here, the unreinforced roof area is much greater and hence the torsional flex. The full attachment at rear body minimized the torsional flex at cornering and perhaps did a great job of keeping the panorama roof windows from popping out during sharp turns.

  9. Charles Gould

    Caddy made these sedans with, and without, a “B” pillar, so body flex should not be a problem, and the roof modifications probably actually strengthen this structure.
    I am surprised that nobody has asked about, or addressed, the rear access. There does not appear to be a tailgate of any sort, and the body panel is shorter than the glass area, so I do not believe that the glass actually recedes into the rear panel.
    If there is no rear access, this wagon would be pretty impractical, if not actually useless. The interior shots seem to indicate that this is a standard four door pillerless sedan with a glass greenhouse enclosure to display the trunk interior. The rear seat does not even fold down. There is no way that this was a factory creation, and Superior or Sayers & Scovill (S&S) would have made the rear area more functional. You would not have had to lift the flowers over the rear seat.
    I actually like the lines of this modified Cadillac, and the workmanship appears to be incredible. It is just a shame that they didn’t bother to make the rear area functional in any way.

    • Tirefriar

      Good call on the lift gate. However, functioning rear glass saves the day for me.

      I am inclined to think that the welded rear opening gives this Caddy some of the structural rigidity lost to the plillarless design.

    • Morrie

      Two points that may be relevant: (1) With the exception of Series-75 limousines, the B-pillar was indeed unavailable on any “regular” Cadillac, including even the very large 60-Special, in model-years 1957 through 1964. (2) In the late 1950s into the very early 1960s, there were regular-production “pillarless” very large station wagons from all the Big Three, including Olds 98 & Buick Super/Roadmaster platforms, big Mercuries, and the biggest Chryslers/DeSotos/Dodges.

    • Morrie

      Functioning, retractable rear (“tailgate”) window?: Looking very closely in the photo, at the actual angle of the glass itself as mounted within its frame in the would-be “tailgate,” it appears that its rise is angled at a degree or two more straight-up vertical than the surrounding steel. So I wonder if this would provide enough clearance for the glass to be able to slide down into a position actually behind the otherwise obstructing high rise of the that massive chrome horizontal “bumper” strip spanning between the two “jet burner” taillight assemblies. That is, perhaps that piece is actually a custom-made façade piece that perfectly mimics the real-thing bumper assembly of a stock 1963 Deville/62. That could provide for a “rear window that opens into the solid rear panel” as cited below (12/18/14, 1998redwagon), quoted from the eBay ad.

      • Mike

        The rear glass did go up and down – it was my father’s car. That actually worked perfectly, using the key from what I recall.

        Like 1
  10. marcello

    I could’ve sworn you guys had one here before, but the other pics I saw were like a light golden color, not sure, very beautiful wagon. Too steep on the price of this one though..

  11. Tom S.

    That’s just wrong.

  12. Ron Bajorek

    non functionuing tailgate kills it for me

  13. 1998redwagon

    quoting from the ebay ad ” All power windows work including rear window that opens into the solid rear panel. ”

    apparently there is a working window back there but no hatch. that really limits the use.

    last picture is fine with me.

    • Morrie

      Functioning, retractable rear (“tailgate”) window?: Looking very closely in the photo, at the actual angle of the glass itself as mounted within its frame in the would-be “tailgate,” it appears that its rise is angled at a degree or two more straight-up vertical than the surrounding steel. So I wonder if this would provide enough clearance for the glass to be able to slide down into a position actually behind the otherwise obstructing high rise of the that massive chrome horizontal “bumper” strip spanning between the two “jet burner” taillight assemblies. That is, perhaps that piece is actually a custom-made façade piece that perfectly mimics the real-thing bumper assembly of a stock 1963 Deville/62. That could provide for a “rear window that opens into the solid rear panel” as cited above, quoted from the eBay ad.

      Like 1
  14. Larry

    Looks to be the same car from the auction – the unique door insignia appears to match. Current owner doesn’t appear to have much info about the car’s history, and other than an exterior wash and polish, doesn’t appear to have done anything to clean it up or fix any of the known issues. So, basically, just a flipper looking cash in without adding any value.

    An interesting car, but I can’t imagine someone would create a station wagon that doesn’t have direct access to the wagon part. There must be something we’re not seeing…

  15. jim s

    the listing has ended. a very nice looking car but does the limited use trunk area add to the value or not. i think there too many other nice wagon for sale. great find. it sure has been a great wagon wednesday, thanks

  16. Joe Riley

    Ken Spieger built one of these at his body shop, the paint palace, in Spokane Washington back in the 70s. He grafted a vista cruiser to a cadillac.

  17. That Guy

    It’s a very handsome car, but with such limited rear access it almost can’t be called a station wagon.

    Sometime within the past few years I saw a similar creation based on a ’62 Thunderbird for sale on Craigslist. It was beautiful, fully functional as I recall, had tons of documentation about its build and magazine articles featuring at various shows over the years, and if I remember correctly the asking price was $16,500. It appeared more than once so even at that price it didn’t get snapped up right away. That can probably serve as a decent benchmark for this car’s actual value. The $24K it sold for previously is probably all the money. Here’s an article about the T-Bird:

    http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2012/08/30/hemmings-find-of-the-day-1962-ford-thunderbird/

  18. HITHEREFOLKS

    but i did see a few hearses looking like that…….. nice car though, good for long trips

  19. Carl W French

    As a kid (would have been early 70’s), I distinctly remember an early 60’s Cadillac station wagon in the collection at the Larz Andersen Museum in Brookline, MA. If I recall correctly, it was a light metallic blue. It really stuck with me for some reason. I cannot specifically recall any other cars I saw that day. I remember there being a sign with the history behind it but no memory of what it said.

  20. DT

    In the day there were flower cars and a few upscale caddy wagons, made (not factory)for people that could afford them.I dont remember any that had vista cruiser roofs and as pointed out earlier this roof is a few years newer than the Cadillac. I would assume this was built at least a few years after ’65-’66.It is very similar to the T-bird mentioned,probably built later also.I kinda like the way the back opens up,cool rig

  21. gunningbar

    It is an interesting idea…but not $38 k interesting…
    Seriously….I m getting old….3,800 would be a stretch.

  22. MadHungarian

    I saw a twin to this car, but in a more red shade of paint, at a car show in PA over 20 years ago. I like a lot of Caddy wagon conversions, but the lack of a usable tailgate kills this one for me. Yes, it’s a lot of work, principally because the gas tank and filler need to be relocated and the rear bumper reworked, but if you are gonna go through all the other trouble involved in the conversion, why not do it right?

  23. AzDon

    I think that is simply the stock 63 four-door hardtop roof including the rear pillars with a stock vista-cruiser (or buick skylark sportwagon) roof piggy-backed onto it starting at the skyport window. I believe that the caddy’s extra width is all below the greenhouse…. I don’t think that price is out of line, but I’m poor, so what do I know (?)…… I much prefer my 91 Olds Custom Cruiser at a less-than-six-grand investment!

  24. Bill M

    While the SceniCruiser bus looks like the Olds wagon roof, the actual reason for the raised section is interesting. Here is the real reason for the increased roof line: In 1964 GM introduced an all-new rear coil suspension for these vehicles. This caused a need for the floor’s dimensions to be raised up several inches. Increasing the entire roof line would not look right, so they raised only the back area, adding the glass panels to disguise the fact that the actual rear cargo height was unchanged from the year before.

    in the late 1970s I knew a former GM designer in Bethesda, MD. who was part of the Scenic Cruiser design team. I used to work on his Ferrari 275. He owned one of these Olds wagons, and told me the story.

  25. Billy

    Just saying I own a station wagon factory made with no B post and is a hard top body. But not a GM product. Ford LTD Station Wagon. I experance no body flex.

    Like 1
  26. Mike

    @MadHungarian it’s the same car as the firemist red one that you saw at Hershey. It was my father’s car and he bought it in the early eighties, had it restored and painted twice during his ownership. When he first bought it it was white with plush velvet, baby blue seats…no joke.

    Like 2
  27. John

    Hello!
    My name is John and I own this caddy now in VA.
    I collect caddy, and I can tell you that this car was custom made at a coach builder in NJ that specialized in Cadillacs.
    It was owned by the Rockeffellers in Arkansas where they have a big ranch. The sister car was dark blue, and I was told this at the Caddy National in Tysons Corner in 2018 by a man who had worked for them on the 60s.
    It does not flex at all but is very heavy. Fun to drive.
    We rebuilt the suspension and added HD shocks in the rear.
    The AC works great.
    I am planning on painting it silver blue.

    Like 1
    • DAVID KENIRY

      i have a 69 cdv my mom
      baught at thomas cad
      in los angeles & still have thomas licence
      plate surrond

  28. Morrie

    Did anyone else ever hear the phrase “a ride in a Cadillac station wagon” as a parodied mobster threat euphemism (from, perhaps, a comedy skit on one of the early 1960s late night TV shows)?

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