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Worthwhile Project: 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

There is no doubt that time and the elements can be kinder to some vehicles than to others, and while it hasn’t been as unfriendly as it could have been to this 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, it has still inflicted its share of damage. Barn Finder local_sheriff has really had the radar going strong for us lately, so thank you so much for referring the Oldsmobile to us. You will find it located in Stockton, California, and listed for sale here on eBay. The BIN price has been set at $3,450, but the option is there to make an offer.

It’s a bit hard to know where to start with the Olds because there’s plenty to talk about. Starting with rust, the owner says that there is some present in the floors, along with the rear pan. He suggests that all of these will need to be replaced. It also looks like the lower quarter panel on the driver’s side has been patched at some point, with rust also showing in the bottom corner of the front door on the same side. The Baroque Gold paint is showing the signs of age, and a repaint will also be on the cards. The wood-grain is also looking very tired, and at least one piece of the distinctive top glass has some pretty severe cracking.

Once the next owner has tackled the panels and paint, it will be time to look inside the vehicle and to once again compile a long list of work that is going to be required. The dash and pad look quite good, while the vehicle is fitted with factory air conditioning.  But then things go downhill in a real hurry. The seats are going to need new covers, the doors will need new trims, while the floors will need new carpets. I guess that while we’re at it, we might as well add new trims in the back, and a new headliner should also go onto the list. I mean, come on, it isn’t much…if you say it fast. The fact is that in reality, we’re talking about replacing virtually every piece of interior trim. It’s a lot of work, but on the plus side, the car will look brand new once it’s done, which it effectively will be.

If you’ve been holding your breath for some good news, then I can finally provide some. With a 350ci V8 engine, TH-400 transmission, a 10-bolt rear end, power steering, and power disc brakes, the Oldsmobile is said to be in top mechanical health. The owner says that the car runs and drives and that the motor appears to be strong. It sounds like the next owner will need to spend little on the mechanical components of the car. This is a blessing because it looks like there is going to be plenty to spend elsewhere on the car.

The list of work that is going to be required to return this 1972 Vista Cruiser to pristine condition might seem overwhelming, but the big question is whether it is justified in this case. It’s worth considering that classic wagons are continuing to grow in popularity, and this is a trend that shows no signs of slowing. Therefore, there is a pretty good chance that values will also continue to increase. Today it is virtually impossible to find a nice ’72 Vista Cruiser for under $24,000, so you have to wonder what prices they will command in another 5-years time. With those sorts of potential values and a BIN price of $3,450, this is a restoration project that would seem to make a lot of sense.


  1. Steve R

    I think you patch it up, then use it as a swapmeet cruiser. Not every car needs to be restored to pristine condition, especially trucks and wagons which can be useful for hauling things around.

    Steve R

    Like 17
    • Danl Mar

      I agree with you there .
      If i lived close I would do just that.
      A quick patch up of the rust, with my Mig welding skills.
      Quick primer then spray on bed liner for the rockers and underside, and touch up any other exposed metal on the body , and this would be my second car and also used for towing. I know it would tow more, & better than my old Ford Ranger .

      Darn….. Wish i was closer

  2. Will Fox

    After the cherry one featured earlier this week, I can’t even look at this tired mule.

    Like 1
  3. Del

    Probably rust problems on the bottom of this mule.

    I am leaving it for Festus to fix up.

    Like 2
  4. Rube Goldberg Member

    We’ll give Adam the benefit, but this car should immediately signal Eric Foremans Vista Cruiser, even though, his was a ’69, that was a funny show,,,Dumba$$,,,

    Like 1
  5. Andrew Franks

    Adam,I agree with you. The price is right and the car should be restored because it has strong upside market potential and wagons in general are versatile, useful, and a much better idea than dumb SUVs. I would take it seriously but I have no room.
    Currently negotiating for a larger premises. We’ll see how that goes.

    Like 2
  6. local_sheriff

    That cracked roof window will be $ to replace! Good thing is most everything non-Vista spec bits are reproduced. In its current condition one can justify using it as basis for a Vista 442 clone

    Like 3
  7. BOP_GUY Member

    Did these have a 455 option?

    • David G

      They did have a 455 option. This one needs all the Vista windows replaced, the large one is cracked and the side ones are de-laminating. As a Californian, I have never seen this much rust in my life on a ( American made ) California car. Some of it on the lower sides can be attributed to moisture getting behind the vinyl wood decals, but the huge amount of floor rust makes one wonder if it was parked just below high tide level at a beach for twenty plus years.

      • Dan Mar

        I bet it’s first owner was somewhere in the Midwest, or North East.

  8. TimM

    They must have been one tough car!! This is the third one this month!!

    Like 1

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