One Owner! 1965 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

Enjoying the California sun after 25 years of storage, this 1965 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser seeks a new owner after giving its original buyer 50 years and 86,000 miles of service. Though apparently not running, this classic shows well like so many California classics that simply continue living the life of a normal automobile, covering miles and years without restoration or anything but regular maintenance. Check out more pictures of this Santa Barbara, California cruiser here on Craigslist, where $12,900 makes it yours. Technically the buyer will be the car’s third owner, taking possession of maintenance records dating back to the original purchase. The car’s greatest value may come from merely refurbishing and replacing safety items and keeping it on the road. Such cars vanish every day, and for history’s sake, some should carry on as never-restored transportation devices. Thanks to reader rex m for spotting this one.

The lure of the post-war Interstate system sent families across America on epic vacations, reaching destinations that would have been extremely time-consuming to visit a generation earlier. The Vista Cruiser’s glass roof panels flooded the interior with light, while rear visors blocked glare when needed. Around the same time, Greyhound offered a similar experience in its Scenicruiser buses. and railroads offered glass-roofed Dome Cars. Oldsmobile simply brought the glass roof within reach of every family with the Vista Cruiser. The two-tone blue interior needs work, according to the listing, but I’d sit back there any day.

Imagine the possibilities and utility provided by this vast cargo area. Surf boards and beach gear, camping equipment, fishing rods, or even lumber can be loaded into the rear and kept secure and weather-tight. Consistently faded paint and mostly straight panels will do just fine with an occasional waxing.

The new-for-’64 Oldsmobile 330 cid (5.4L) Generation 2 V8 made 250 HP in base form and this extra-cost 10.25:1 “Ultra High Compression” version made 315 on Premium fuel, according to the brochure.

Though a bit thread-bare, the upholstery contrasts nicely with the upscale Oldsmobile’s shiny dashboard. Personally I’d consider a minimal re-upholstery matching the original materials as closely as possible, aftermarket air conditioning, filters and fluids, safety items, mechanical necessities, and then giving this family road-schooner a steady diet of weekend road trips. Do all that and you’d probably be under $20,000 for a vehicle that weighs 1500 lb less than a big SUV and probably gets better mileage. When it comes to points for style, folks will look past a dozen $70,000 SUVs to see who’s driving that Vista Cruiser. Can you see your family cruising the vistas in this Oldsmobile?

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Great looking wagon. I’d go back to 1965 in a New York minute.

    Like 15
  2. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Let’s go surfin’ now
    Everybody’s learning how
    Come on and safari with me
    (Come on and safari with…)

    Early in the morning we’ll be startin’ out
    Some honeys will be coming along
    We’re loading up our Woody
    With our boards inside
    And headin’ out singing our song

    Come on baby wait and see
    Yes I’m gonna take you surfin’ with me
    Come along baby wait and see
    Yes I’m gonna take you surfin’ with me
    Let’s go surfin’ now
    Everybody’s learning how
    Come on and safari with me
    (Come on and safari with…)

    At Huntington and Malibu
    They’re shooting the pier
    At Rincon they’re walking the nose
    We’re going on safari to the islands this year
    So if you’re coming get ready to go

    Come on baby wait and see
    Yes I’m gonna take you surfin’ with me
    Come along baby wait and see
    Yes I’m gonna take you surfin’ with me
    Let’s go surfin’ now
    Everybody’s learning how
    Come on and safari with me
    (Come on and safari with…)

    They’re anglin’ in Laguna in Cerro Azul
    They’re kicking out in Doheny too
    I tell you surfing’s mighty wild
    It’s getting bigger every day
    From Hawaii to the shores of Peru

    Come on baby wait and see
    Yes I’m gonna take you surfin’ with me
    Come along baby wait and see
    Yes I’m gonna take you surfin’ with me
    Let’s go surfin’ now
    Everybody’s learning how
    Come on and safari with me
    (Come on and safari with…)

    With me
    Surfin’ Safari
    With me
    Surfin’ Safari
    With me

    Like 12
    • Dave

      …and everyone was California dreamin’.

      Like 8
      • rextreme Member

        Mamas and Papas!

        Like 2
  3. alphasud Member

    I prefer the 70-72 Vista Cruiser over the first generation. But if I was in the market for one and a nice first gen was available I would certainly entertain buying it. I remember when I was a kid I used to get motion sickness in the back of certain cars. Riding in one or these would be traveling in style. The rear seat would no longer be second rate. Heck I might be happy even riding the hump. If only my dad knew. There would be a lot less fighting among the 3 of us fighting for the window seat.

    Like 6
  4. DanaPointJohn

    The CL ad says it runs great.

    Like 1
  5. Dan August

    Would need to know details about why its not running….

    Like 3
    • Charles Moore

      Hi, the car runs well. We are selling it on behalf of the original owners. California plate still titled in the families name. It cruises nice. Happy to answer any questions for interested parties.

      Like 2
  6. Dave

    My father bought one of these to replace the 1958 Buick Special he’d bought a few years before. It gave way to a 1966 Delta 88. It always smelled like gas inside and he didn’t like the two-speed transmission and complained that it was top-heavy.
    But, it was painted in such a rich shade of Burgundy, and the 10 year old version of me never missed a chance to stargaze… after all, it was the time when men were taking their first tentative steps into the Final Frontier.

    Like 9
  7. KDogg

    My prom date was top heavy and I never complained

    Like 14
  8. G.Bolton

    I am friends with the family that owns the car. The car runs great and has essentially new tires.

    Like 6
    • Rick

      The posting says that it does not run.

      • G.Bolton

        The Santa Barbara CL ad says runs great. The Barn Finds feature was not posted by selling party. Not sure how to correct it

  9. Redrawn

    That shot of the back seat with all the windows alone would make me want to buy this car

    Like 1
  10. Michael Yount

    Dad ordered a new ‘65 Vista Cruiser, black over red vinyl, 330 2 bbl, 4 speed MANUAL trans. Picked it up at a dealership in NJ when we got iff the USS Rose coming back from Germany in May of ‘65. Learned to drive in it. And to the author – no, you’re unlikely in one of these old wagons to match or better the fuel mileage that a contemporary SUV can deliver.

    Like 1
  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car. I’ve seen Olds Vista Cruisers before, but never a 1964 or 65 Vista Cruiser. If only Craigslist posted more pics than they did. 17 pics is nowhere near enough for people to see the car. Given its originality and condition, I’d be willing to pay close to $10,000, that leaves enough money on hand to have the car inspected, to make sure everything works like they should.

    Like 5
    • G.Bolton

      Car Nut Tacoma
      If interested reply to CL with your photo request. While there are many photos, everyone is requesting specific photos which the owners are happy to supply on a per case basis.

      Like 2
  12. Maestro1

    It needs door cards and air conditioning and it would be great. Plus whatever else it needs. Love and own this car.

  13. Mark

    Had this same car, same color, as a winter beater while the Vette slept in the garage. Bought for $75 in 1974, drove 3 winters, was a total rust bucket from MN salt. Loved the car, especially since I always had second row seat back folded down and shag carpet covering entire back. Great car on a date on those cold winter nights……

  14. CaCarDude

    I like it, and would be proud to own it. I would sort out all the mechanical issues, source and replace all the original type interior. Give this long roof a total detail and just enjoy as a weekend fair weather cruiser. Nice to see the original Black plates are still present. The seller says original down to the tube radio, well this is an incorrect statement as by 1965 all the factory radios were solid state. Hope the new owner will enjoy many years of cruising in this Vista Cruiser.

    Like 1
  15. Sam61

    Very nice wagon! Note to self…prop a surfboard in front of my 87 Eagle Wagon when the time comes to sell.

    Like 2
  16. Dewey Gill

    Pop bought a red one with the 4bbl. It was the time in my dad’s life were he could start to afford family vacations and new cars. As kids we got a kick out of sitting in the back and looking up through the Vista windows. Good for sightseeing downtown buildings. He replaced it with a 67 Bonneville wagon to pull the new boat

    Like 1
  17. Utes

    Oldsmobile’s response in competing w/the Buick Skylark Sportswagon.

  18. Bill McCoskey

    Many Barn Finds visitors probably don’t know the reason for the raised Vista roof, but here’s the quick & basic situation/solution GM found itself in, back in the early 1960s:

    In the late 1970s I was doing some major restoration work on a Ferrari 275 long nose that was owned by a retired GM stylist. We had a Vista Cruiser in for rust repairs, and the Ferrari owner told me the story of the raised roof on the Olds and Buick mid-sized wagons starting in 1964.

    He said prior to 1964, All GM wagons used leaf springs for the back axle suspension, but GM wanted to switch to coil springs. Problem was, to install the new suspension meant raising the cargo floor a couple of inches, and losing precious cargo area. Raising the entire roof was not an option [made it look like a hearse or ambulance!], so the solution was to raise the roof area over the rear section of the body. But GM also didn’t want the rear door windows or quarter panel windows to be raised as well. The solution is what we see today!

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