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No Reserve Roller: 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

We are finding a lot of station wagons on Barn Finds as of late and they always seem to be a body style of interest. One of the more unique models offered was the Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, like this 1969 find. Based on the F85 or Cutlass station wagon body, it offered glass roof panels to add a little highlight to the rear and third seat passenger compartment. This example is located in Latham, New York and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $1,600, nine bids tendered so far.

Oldsmobile offered the Vista Cruiser between 1964 and 1977, though the ’73 to ’77 versions were sans the typical glass roof panels of earlier models but did have a tinted, operational, glass sunroof over the front seat. Oldsmobile’s sister GM division, Buick, offered a similar arrangement from 1964 until 1969 on their Skylark-based, Sport Wagon.

This subject car is identified as a barn find, though it looks more like a garage find, and is referenced by the seller as, ” Very solid, but really dirty good old girl”. I would have probably chosen a different descriptor, but OK, I understand the intent. Yes, it is dirty but I question the solidity claim. While there are no real comprehensive exterior images, rust is revealed in some of the accompanying images – and it appears to be more than just surface corrosion. The wood grain applique is delaminating but that is expected and it usually degrades long before the half-century mark if continually exposed to the elements. The seller lists the mileage as 36K miles, but there is no claim to that figure and it’s probably just what the odometer displays – once around is likely the case. Being a GM “A” body of this generation, I would recommend that any prospective buyer get a good look at the underside.

One notable detail is this VC’s stance, it seems nose-high and that’s with good reason as there is no engine. And the listing is disingenuous in that the missing motor is not specifically stated. What is stated is, “Original motor is long gone”. And then added, ” I have a Rebuilt 1969 354 Barrel (sic) and the 9 rider seat and all hardware. That you can buy for an additional $1000″. Having a missing original engine is not odd for a car of this age but it should be positively stated that this car is a roller and it’s not. And this is probably the reason that there is no image of the engine compartment. Assuming that this Oldsmobile originally had a dual exhaust equipped engine (referenced in the listing) it was probably a 310 gross HP, 350 CI, V8 engine (not a 354 as stated) with a Turbo-Hydramatic, three-speed automatic transmission. There is no mention of a transmission in the listing and the VIN checks out as a ’69, nine-passenger Vista Crusier, assembled in Lansing, Michigan, but nothing more than that is revealed.

The interior is shown in several images and it’s worn. The carpet is missing, revealing rusty floors, and the driver’s side of the front seat is starting to come apart. The rest of it looks usable however though the steering wheel is doing the splits. The seller points out that this a power window equipped wagon and the dash vent arrangement would indicate air conditioning though that’s a moot point with the missing engine. The original radio is present and accounted for, however… One thing to check for inside are signs of leaks from the vista glass, this is a common problem with Vista Cruisers as they age.

This Olds is trending in reasonable bid territory, even if you wanted to spring another grand for the optional engine – though it’s recommended to check that engine out closely. As for the rest of the car, it warrants inspection; yes, it’s cheap for now but could get really expensive if there are integrity problems underneath or behind the body panels. The Vista Cruiser was an attention-getting design in its day and added a little excitement to the otherwise staid station wagon. It would be nice to see this one return to road-worthy status, don’t you think?


  1. alphasud Member

    Looks to be a sizable amount of work needed. Anything can be saved money no object but I think it would be wiser to start with a nicer example. I have not looked into Buick Sportswagon production numbers but I sure see a lot more Cruisers remaining.

    Like 2
  2. George Mattar

    I use to live 20 miles from Latham. Snows there from Nov to late March. Maybe that’s why he does not show photos from underneath. Wagons are cool, like most my age, 64, we grew up riding around in them, but go to Arizona to find one. Yeah toast for interior but no rust.

    Like 2
  3. Claudio

    Another perfect LS candidate but not for me …

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