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Two Engines! 1967 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Project

From 1964 to 1972, the Olds Vista Cruiser was a unique station wagon. Based on the mid-size Cutlass, it had a raised roofline behind the front seat with skylights added for the rear passengers. This unusual body style was shared with Buick, but not Chevrolet or Pontiac. This first-generation edition from 1967 looks like a stalled project where the work stopped after the passenger floorboards were replaced. With two engines, it’s in Middletown, Pennsylvania, and is available here on craigslist for $3,000. A nod goes to Mitchell G. for the cool tip!

While Oldsmobile marketed the Vista Cruiser through 1977, the wagon lost its unique styling with the switch to the Colonnade platform in 1973. Although I’ve never ridden in the back of a Vista, I assume the fixed glass, roof-mounted skylights offered extra headroom, and more sunlight or an additional view for passengers in the second or third-row seats (if added). Those riding in the middle were treated to adjustable sun visors. The Vista Cruiser (and Buick’s comparable Sport Wagon) also had five inches added to the wheelbase.

Two versions of the first-gen Vista Cruiser were offered, standard or Custom, with the trim level adjusted accordingly. In 1967, a 330 cubic inch Rocket V8 was standard fare with 2 or 4-barrel carburetors (the latter applies to this wagon). We suspect this vehicle is a Custom only because they sold in much higher numbers (24,800 copies vs. 2,700 for the standard).

This stalled restoration still has some heavy lifting to go. Besides finishing work on the body, you’ll need to decide what to do with propulsion. Stick with the 330 V8 and TH-400 auto transmission (do either need rebuilding?) or go with a 400 the seller is including that came out of a 1969 442. It will for sure need a rebuild. New tires are part of the deal, mounted on freshly painted rims. A bit of good news is that all the roof glass is there and has no flaws. The seller mentions a 455 in the headline but nowhere else in the listing, so we don’t know what that’s about. A cool wagon with loads of potential!

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Joe Padavano

    Pay close attention to pinchweld rust under the chrome trim around the roof windows. That is a big weak spot on these cars. And that trans is actually a TH375, which is the light-duty version of the TH400 used behind small blocks in heavy cars. It’s a long tail trans due to the 120″ wheelbase on these cars. The TH375 is built in a TH400 case but uses fewer clutches and the smaller TH350-sized output shaft and yoke.

    Sadly the cost to finish this car will put the owner quite a ways underwater in value.

    Like 19
    • Avatar photo James

      My parents had a 1967 vista cruiser and it had a 330 2bbl and I believe a TH350 transmission. I remember that because it failed on a trip to Maine and it had to be rebuilt. The gas station we had it rebuilt at was in the sticks and they had to order the parts from Canada.

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Norman K Wrensch

        turbo 350 was not available until 1969 it would of been the turbo 300 which is a two speed or the the 375/400 which is a three speed, And if a 375 they can very easily have the clutch pistons changed to use the same amount of clutches as the 400. I did that to several of the 375’s.

        Like 6
    • Avatar photo James

      I am pretty sure it was a 3 speed. Had S gear.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Marty Parker

        The only automatic Transmission available for the 67 Vista Cruiser with the 330CI engine was the Jetaway 2 speed. The TH400 could be had with the 400CI engine . The TH375 didn’t appear until late 71.

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo James

        Marty:
        It’s been 49 years since we got rid of it, so there’s that. I do know it had the low compression 330 2bbl.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo James Quinn

        I have a stock 67 VC with a 330 4 barrel and 400 3 spd trans. All factory

        Like 1
  2. Avatar photo Marshall Belcher

    I recently parked my new car in my grandfather’s barn while helping him catch up on some chores… it got a little dusty in just a couple hours. If I sell it can Itl call it a barn find?? Lol.

    Like 10
  3. Avatar photo ACZ

    What about the interior? Doesn’t appear to be much there. If the floors were replaced, what condition is the frame in? Way too much unknown. Could have promise but much more info needed. It’s not exactly an Arizona car.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo James

      From PA, so it’s probably a rust bucket.

      Like 4
  4. Avatar photo Kurt Member

    Reminds me of Clark Griswolds wagon. Just needs Imogene Coco tied up on top…

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Joe Padavano

      Does every story about a station wagon require someone to say this? Other than being an American station wagon, a Vista Cruiser is NOTHING like that car.

      Like 18
      • Avatar photo joe smith

        Looks like a vc to me. Care to expound?

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo Paul Summrr

        Yeah! What the hell, tryin to be happy?
        Bah humbug! Go be happy somewhere else!

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo Poppy

        Joe:
        Yes, the “Family Truckster” looked nothing like a Vista Cruiser, but the car he was forced to “trade in” sure does.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD6NCnwNQk4

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo Steve

      If memory serves me correct, Clark traded in a nice Vista Cruiser. I always wondered why would you trade a nice car for that piece of junk! Hollywood I guess.

      Like 2
    • Avatar photo George

      The car he drove to the dealership to pick up his new car was a Vista Cruiser. The dealership crushed it, so he was forced to take the Family Truckster.

      Like 0
  5. Avatar photo Mark Ruggiero Member

    When a youngster in the first half of the 60s my parents had a Vista Cruiser, and we were in the period of their lives where they really wanted to drive and see/show me the country. I lived in the back of that thing for several cross country trips. Not enough to want another mind you, but whenever I see one it brings back good memories.

    Like 3
  6. Avatar photo Ken

    Definitely a Custom. Has wood on the sides.

    Like 3
  7. Avatar photo William Milot

    A friend of mine had one of these (I believe his was a 71) and his had a 455 in it. We did some minor improvements to the distributor and added a big accel blaster coil before turning our attention to the Q-Jet, a few things like drilling the 0.30 holes in the secondary tubes and pounding in the other tubes in to 1″ standing height from the top plate. Then we added a much smaller float so there was more room for fuel in the bowls and a set of main jets & rods from a 70 Pontiac Ram Air IV and a secondary rod hanger with a “V” stamp on it and that ‘ol Q-Jet was as crisp as anything available at that time! The car performed much better than we ever imagined it could. While it was a limited slip rearend and would burn the tires it was also launching extremely well at the same time and between the sound of the Q-Jet’s Gutteral Growl and 2 tires pealing it was a combined sound that cured E.D. in the older car guys lol. We pickes on actual Hot Rods and cars that were made to go fast from the factory, even though it lost a few light to light races everyone that watched would give praises to the Vista for staying so close to the one that beat it. Since it won way more times than it lost it was getting a reputation and we were having a blast with it. She was a true Sleeper that only cost around $75 bucks to wake up what the factory did to make it a family car that would tow the camper! God, what I’d give to go back 40 years and re-live just 1 night of those days when you could play all night from light to light and it wasn’t a Felony!

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo James

      My older sister had a 71 with a 455 2bbl. Green with wood vinyl on the lowers. Quick car. We had a 65 delta 88 with a 425 too. that car hauled well as well. My younger older sister had a 69 vista with a 350 4bbl. For some reason that car was a pig.

      Like 0
  8. Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

    Vista Cruisers have acquired a certain cachet ever since they became famous on “That 70’s Show” as Eric Forman’s ride. BTW, Wilmer Valderrama, the actor who played “Fez” (short for Foreign Exchange Student, or F.E.S., for short) on the show bought the example used on the show when it ended, without an engine or transmission in it. He keeps it in his garage, complete with all of camera mountings and gaffers tape marks used during filming.

    “That’s a Vista Cruiser! You can cruise the Vistas with it!” – Red Forman.

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo John Pflaum

    Too much money to restore for what it’s worth. Everyone is not searching high and low for a vista cruiser lol.definite pass

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Bern M

      Way way too much for a car that was used as a parts car. Everything of salvageable value is gone!!!

      Like 1

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