No Reserve Wagon: 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

Tidy classic station wagons will always attract plenty of attention, especially when they are as nice as this 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. These are such a cool looking vehicle, and the additional glass in the roof gives these giants a light and airy feel. This one needs very little to push it towards being perfect and offers a great alternative to the SUVs and people-movers that we find gracing new car showrooms today. If that sounds appealing, you will find the Olds located in Navarre, Florida, and listed for sale here on eBay. The auction has opened at $10,000 with No Reserve, but there are no bids. That doesn’t mean that this is a dud because 95 people are watching the listing.

It’s hard to find a lot not to like about the Cameo White and Nutmeg wagon. It received one repaint back in 2011, but this has survived well. It has undoubtedly been helped by the fact that the wagon has been garage-kept since 1984. This has minimized the damage that Mother Nature can inflict upon the paint and has allowed the Olds to remain rust-free. The panels are straight, and the paint shines beautifully. One of the great attractions to me with this Vista Cruiser is that it remains unmolested. We’ve seen a few in the past here at Barn Finds where someone has added a set of aftermarket wheels. These generally look quite good, but it is refreshing to see one that remains as the maker intended. The hubcaps are in excellent condition, as is the remaining exterior trim. I can’t spot any glass problems, while the chrome roof rack is a classy and practical touch.

Oldsmobile offered a couple of different V8 engine options in the ’72 Vista Cruiser, but the big daddy of the bunch was the 455ci monster. This V8 pumped out a healthy 250hp, and when you consider that the vehicle tipped the scales at a hefty 4,385lbs, this made a ¼-mile ET of 16.6 seconds seem mighty impressive. This wagon comes equipped with that engine, which is backed by a 3-speed automatic transmission. Add in power steering and power front disc brakes, and what you have is a relaxing family cruiser. The 250hp output figure was correct when the Olds was new, but I suspect that the truth is different today. The V8 has only clocked 10,000 miles since it received a rebuild. In a vehicle like this, that is barely broken in. At that point, the wagon was fitted with an upgraded aluminum intake, a set of headers, an HEI distributor, and a custom exhaust. With better spark and improved breathing, I believe that the output figure from the 455 would be noticeably improved. The Vista has also recently had all of its front-end components replaced, so it should handle and steer nicely. The owner describes the wagon’s overall condition as very good, and while that doesn’t provide specifics about how it runs or drives, the scope of the work performed should mean that it is a pretty nice thing on the road.

One of the greatest bug-bears of classic family wagons of this era is that they can feel quite claustrophobic. That isn’t an issue with the Vista Cruiser because the additional glass in the roof makes for a pleasant motoring experience. Oldsmobile thought this option through pretty carefully because rear-seat passengers receive their own set of sunvisors to block out the harsh light when it shines in their faces. Overall, the condition of the wagon is better than average for a vehicle of this age. Station wagons tend to lead pretty hard lives. By the time they are used as a carry-all for all manner of boxes, cartons, bags, and luggage, kids put their feet and sticky fingers on every surface, and a hyperactive dog is bouncing around the interior like Tigger on red cordial, trim can look tired and ratty quite quickly. That isn’t an issue here, because the interior presents exceptionally well. The only problem of note is a tear in the front seat. However, with replacement covers in the right material available for under $320, returning it to a pristine state would be an easy and cheap exercise. When it comes to luxury equipment, the Olds scores air conditioning, a rear power window, and an AM/FM radio/cassette player.

The current crop of people movers and SUVs tend to lack the character and presence you find with the ’72 Vista Cruiser. This one not only has that, but the big-block under the hood means that it should provide a satisfying amount of “go” when the right pedal is depressed. The days of the full-size family station wagon would seem to be over, at least for the foreseeable future. That is one of the reasons why classics like this continue to grow in popularity and value. In fact, Vista Cruiser prices have risen by an incredible 40% across the board in the past 5-years. They remain relatively affordable, but it isn’t clear how long it will be before they edge out of the reach of the average buyer. That means that if one of these is on your radar, this one might be worth more than just a passing glance.


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  1. Steve Clinton

    Sometimes when people start out with a high minimum, buyers will be hesitant to make a bid. I think there is a better chance of realizing a nice total if the minimum is started lower.
    That being said, I owned a 1970 Vista Cruiser. It was built like a tank but was always thirsty (right about the time of the oil embargo and increased gasoline prices). I wish I still had it now!

    Like 4

      I had a 69 with a 350 olds. Ran the daylights out of it.

  2. alphasud Member

    I think the 70-72 vista cruiser wagons are the best looking of the long roofs. Have written before about good times as a kid in the back of one of these when my dad had to borrow the neighbors car for a weekend trip. I like the white and it’s a fitting color for the hot Florida sun. I would want the 455 as well and with the the headers and recent rebuild it’s closer to being a Vista bruiser. Unfortunately it looks like gas prices are on the rise and that will definitely hit your wallet hard with this girl.

    Like 3
  3. Jcs

    These are known for having issues with leaks around the roof glass panels, which is quite fiddly to repair (read “expensive”). This one is obviously no exception.

    Like 8
  4. Bruce

    funny how one finds beauty in a particular auto, this is one of my favorites. had one in our family for a decade, sadly we lived in the north east and salt was the enemy, but the observation windows never leaked and the car ran like a champ.

    Like 1
    • ADM

      It’s sad how many great cars are gone forever, because of road salt, like the one of three ’68 Cougar GT-E’s with the 428 CJ and 4 speed. Two survive, one I saw sell at Owl’s Head, and the third “rusted away, in the Boston area.”

  5. ADM

    “You’re not taking the Vista Cruiser!!”

    Like 3
  6. Bing

    We had a 70 vista cruiser as the second car. We bought it used, and ran the wheels off it for five years hauling kids and groceries. I had a 70 Cutlass Supreme that I special ordered two door, buckets, console Muncie 4 speed. Ran great and was a solid value at three grand brand new. Had to skip the 442 due ti insurance costs. Loved that car.

  7. md

    Looks kind of odd in white, with painted lower instead of woodgrain, and wrong hubcaps. I don’t see headers, but maybe they were added later? A/C would work much better with a compressor…hopefully that’s included as the greenhouse glass can heat that interior rather quickly. Rust is the key question especially around the roof glass, c-pillar, trunk and spare tire storage. If those areas check out, this is a good find. I miss my ’69…

    Like 2
  8. Edd L. Brock

    I didn’t think Eric Foreman would ever sell his beloved Vista Cruiser. Guess I was wrong.

    Like 1
  9. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $12,600.

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