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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Hasta la Vista, Baby! Oldsmobile's Vista Cruiser defined family recreation for a generation

Technically, GM Styling designed the original 1964 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, but World War II most likely spawned its success. That's because in the postwar years, Americans were busy doing two things: building families and engaging in outdoor recreation. Conceivably inspired by GM design chief Harley Earl's 1945 Astra Liner railroad car and industrial designer Raymond [...]
https://www.hagerty.com/media/magazine-features/hasta-la-vista-baby-oldsmobiles-vista-cruiser-define...
64 REPLIES 64
stratospuller
New Driver

I remember going across the U.S. on a mission trip in one exactly like this one....same color, wood panels and all that there. It had the 350 and was more than plenty of power to make it fly. As a 16 year old, I took my turn driving it to relieve some of the adults; we all had CB handles and talked all the way there; ours was "Mallard" as the color combo looked like one. This is where the story gets interesting. After bringing a football player that was signed to La. Tech here in LA., it seems he got homesick and the man's son and I went to pick him up at the college and bring him back for a visit. We were just about to Ruston, LA and came upon a car that favored a Mustang, but wasn't one. The tail lights were square and blinked in sequence. When we eased up to it in the passing lane, we noticed a lot of scoops and a snake emblem on the side. We could only make out the number 500 on the side stripe. We were doing 70, and and old geyser with long side hair and bald on the top sneered at us and stabbed it. It was our first time to see a Shelby GT500 leave at 70 and we both just looked at each other as it disappeared; we tried to catch it but 95 was all that I would risk. It was gone in much less than 60 seconds! Reading up on it later, I knew that my parents could not afford one, so I opted for a 69 Mach I 428 Super Cobra Jet. The previous owner had just won the State Championship and the money on sat. after taking delivery on friday, when he got it on his lunch break. My dad handed him 3k for the car and I drove it away, through 3 years of h.s. and 2 years of college. I still wake up at night hearing the snap of the ram air flap when you would rev it. I can say without hesitation, if God is a collector, he would definitely have this one. Even at 66, I still have dreams about it several times a year. My most fav one was when a man drove up in my driveway, heard it had been mine and tossed me the key and said " Have it back by dark and have fun". Glad I lived in that span of time when they ruled the road. Now have a C6 2006 White Corvette convertible that the museum curator states probably belonged to Rick Hendrick when he had his dealership. Another urban legend for another time.
MrBill-1943
Advanced Driver

What I really enjoy are the various advertisements from the 60's and 70's. It was art work and a joy to see be it print or TV commercials. Back then they not only sold you on the car but what and where it would take you. Today all I see is the same car driving over a road towards a mountain with the same style and color over and over. Not a keeper in todays bunch. Take me back to yester year...please.
74firebird
Pit Crew

I had two buick sport waggons, bought a 67 that had a bad motor. the 340 in that one had the camshaft broken in half. bought it on a Thursday night, came home pulled a used cam out of a motor laying in the yard, was cruising Friday night. took it back to show the guy he was passed off he sold it for $ 150.00. peeled off the woodgrain but kept the chrome that went around it painted it gloss black. then in 72 bought a brand new one. traded in a 70 vw beetle they gave me $1000.00 trade in. paid $2600.00 and cruised away. rocket tire fryers those buicks.
MoparMarq
Advanced Driver

Dad was an Olds guy also. He was in sales, so it was always a 98 for him, and a Vista Cruiser for mom. The first was a '66, dark blue. Not a bad looking car, but the '68 that replaced it was the bee's knees. Huge, lots of glass, wood-grain vinyl sides. The '73 Vista Cruiser that replaced it was a huge let-down. It handled better, but a disappointment in the torque and power department with the 350. And with the lame pop-up "sunroof" in front, not a real Vista Cruiser in my mind. Although these days, almost any wagon would be better than what's being offered now. Just put in a late model engine and trans, and up the power, fuel economy, and reliability at the same time...
Tommyturbo2
New Driver

I had a gold 1966 Vista cruiser. I remember it having a 330 ci with 2 speed auto. Pulled a 1959 Small travel trailer with it with my Triumph Trophy 500 motorcycle inside for mountain trips to the Rockies from Lansing, MI. On the hill climbs west out of Denver the transmission would always over heat and I’d have to pull over to the side and as I was laying out the old logging tow chain someone in a pickup would already be hacking up to take me to the top. I’d let the tranny cool down and be back on the road. Those were great day to be alive in America. Tom




brb
Instructor

Lots of fond memories our our second gen Vista Cruiser. Blue with wood vinyl siding, a 350, and 3-speed automatic. Many a family trip was taken with Mom and Dad up front, my two sisters fighting in the passenger seat, and me curled up in the luggage compartment with a pile of books to pass the time. I learned basic maintenance on that car. It and a Gremlin X(!) were what I learned to drive in.
JNDewes
New Driver

My dad had a ‘72 with a rocket 350- we had a Boy Scout camporee at the Indy 500 facility with bicycle races, etc. the finale was a bicycle race around the track. Someone had to drive behind and pick up Scouts with issues getting around the track. I was 16. I looked at my dad, with obvious interest, and he threw me the keys. I waited till the bulk of scouts were rounding the fourth turn, and took off. The good news is that the Rocket 350 would do 110. The bad news is that it was a totally boring ride, feeling like going 30 on the interstate! But it’s a rather unique bucket list item, eh?
Smilodon
Instructor

No. Not at all. I was an Indianapolis Scout that participated as part of Harvey Gill's Boy Scout Band. Marched, been driven, and driven around IMS dozens of times. A great story, not unique.
MIpilot
Pit Crew

I worked EMS, starting in the mid-1970s. Like many small towns, many of the ambulance services were operated by local funeral homes. Colonial Chapel Funeral Home, based in St. Clair, MI, operated 1966, 1968, 1969 and 1973 Cadillac "combinations" (a vehicle capable of operating as an ambulance or funeral coach), as well as two straight Cadillac high-top ambulances (a 1971 Miller-Meteor and a 1972 S&S). In addition, there was for a brief period of time, an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. The elevated roof made it fit right in with the rest of the fleet, though it was already out of service by the time I arrived on the scene. I don't know if a coach builder modified it, or if it was "homegrown," but I understand that it was just too small to work in, as EMS care expanded.

Alas, all car-based ambulances fell by the wayside once KKK-1822, published in 1974 and implemented shortly thereafter, took effect. This is the document that establishes specifications for modern ambulances in the United States.
Nova74
New Driver

After we saw a Vista Cruiser at the 64 world's fair my mom decided she wanted one. My sister also bought the Buick version.
I loved that car. I was always the designated driver in high school for away games. It had seats for 9 (in a 3-4-2 configuration) but one time there were 14 of us in it for a $2.00 a car load drive-in movie.
I miss that car but I still have the 74 Nova that she traded it in for.

Maestro1
Technician

They are big Pussycats. I'm trying to buy one locally.
Racefan20
New Driver

beautiful car
richreolee
Pit Crew

I remember the car. Had one and loved it. Thanks for the reminder on such a nice ride.
Archer393
New Driver

As a kid of the 2000s I was lucky enough to have parents who felt we needed one of these for our family to be complete. I can’t even count the number of road trips we’ve done in our gold 1970 model!
Schnerrydog
New Driver

A personal favorite! My dad had one when I was growing up. As a bratty kid I swore I would never own a station wagon. Now I'd buy one of these in a minute!