By on March 8, 2010

As tipster starbird80 notes, “you see the strangest things on eBay!” But a Vista Cruiser Coupe (or is that a shooting brake)? Surely not…

Strangely, the $5,000 reserve was not met… meaning it might not be too late to make this piece of history/homemade hack-job yours.

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26 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Vista Bruiser Edition...”


  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    Most interesting. Ya gotta admit, this thing restored would be quite intriguing to see in vintage car shows!

    Hard to imagine if this was a GM excercise how it made it onto the streets and with a valid title……

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    It may very well be a GM exercise. There is an Olds registry out there, a quick search would probably net some results…then send them the VIN, that’ll give you the info on the car.

    Finally, I doubt the story about the Olds engine…I’m sure it was a swap at some point. Stick the Olds 350 in it, it’s a better engine.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      No, Olds did produce a number of cars with Chevy engines, and I believe GM was sued for it.Most of us small block fans thought it was an improvement.

    • 0 avatar
      Jordan Tenenbaum

      Oldsmobile had the engine shortage issue in the late `70s, mostly due to the record sales of the Cutlass.

    • 0 avatar
      Buckwheat

      The Chevy-engine-in-an-Olds debacle didn’t start until 1977; and yes, GM did get sued over the practice. Since the late seventies, the GM window stckers have had a disclaimer that says the “powertrains/components are made by various GM divisions” or to that effect.

      From 77-79 it was very common for the full-sized GM cars to get any one of the Buick,Pontiac,Olds, or Chev engines, particularly those ordered with the 350ci engines.

    • 0 avatar
      TomH

      Jordan is correct. “Chev-mobile-gate” was a late ’70’s phenomenon due to record sales. At the time, Olds was touting its “Rocket V-8,” although today it’s had to argue against a small block Chevy motor. The bigger issue with the Chevy substitution was the coupling of the, then, new THM-200 “metric” transmission with the motor. Until the durability issues settled down, the frequency of warranty issues and the resulting customer dissatisfaction doomed the swap. (GM exacerbated the issue with the THM-200 designation versus the Olds’ THM-350 designation.)

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      William, I believe it has been covered since you replied but that shortage didn’t occur until much later…the Chevmobiles as they were called. Even though I drive Subarus now, I grew up loving Olds.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      Buckwheat: In the fall of 1971, I ordered a 1972 Olds 442 with what the division described as “the middle 455” engine. As a salaried GM employe,I had the car in less than two weeks. When I asked why it had a Buick engine, labeled Olds, I was told that was the Olds “middle engine”, a Buick 455. When I replaced engine parts I always had to have the Buick part number. It was a great car anyway.
      Do any of you old GM guys have the whole story?

  • avatar
    Buckwheat

    This Niedermeyer guy is OK in my book. Articles about Colonnades and Vista Cruisers send me directly into a time warp; who needs to read about Toyota gas pedals and auto-industry current events anyway?

    Since I’m stuck in a warp anyway, I’ll order up a 1970 Vista Cruiser with a 455, third seat, and OAI.

    • 0 avatar
      starbird80

      I saw a ’72 with the Rocket 455 for sale last year – the owner had fitted the W30 hood, which I thought looked sharp, but left it alone otherwise. Sadly, finances precluded a purchase. I had visions of towing a vintage Airstream.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    lol @Buckwheat, there’s days I wish I could still go down to my Oldsmobile dealer and do just that.

    This is an interesting machine but definitely a money pit, but then what unique machine isn’t?

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Who knew that there was a GM shooting brake? I find that thing oddly appealing, altho I’m sure that I’d get over it quickly if I saw it in person.

  • avatar

    Vindicates old cars? Would that be validates?

    Restored, it would be a pretty sweet car – if legit. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than a hack job.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I’d definitely love to have this next to my Outback. And give a nice rev when I drive by my neighbor with the 67 Goat.

  • avatar
    starbird80

    I thought this would find some interest here.

    I couldn’t read the full VIN on the eBay photo, but the partial VIN in the listing did decode as a 4-door Vista Cruiser wagon. (Which implies that there *could* have been a valid sequence for a 2-door VC?) Given the paint over the VIN plate, I wonder if the plate is part of the Frankenstein job.

    A couple pictures show what looks to me like a seam along the B-pillars. (Or would that be C-pillar?) And that angle between the coupe rear window and the Vista wagon rear windows just doesn’t work.

    I showed this one to my wife before submitting to TTAC – she made me promise not to buy it. No danger there.

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    I was just reading about the Hurst/Olds special editions on “Ate up with Motor”, maybe this is the Hearse/Olds?

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Looks like someone was doing in metal what Paul Niedermeyer was doing in paper and others of us were doing in model form. (See Saturday’s 1973 GM Car Photo-Chop post.)

    It certainly is an interesting vehicle, though.

  • avatar
    dmrdano

    I saw this done (very well) with a ’70 LeMans and LeMans wagon combo, but they did not shorten the wheelbase. It looked more natural and balanced. This Olds is a hacked version (well done, but still hacked), as GM would not have done what had to have been done to accomdate rear and middle seating. This was a common mod in the early ’70s, especially with vans. I also saw one done very nicely with an early ’80s Malibu, which they styled as a Nomad. Pretty cool actually. Now, don’t anybody try this with a Celebrity!!!

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Actually it should be easier to mess with things like wheelbase on a FWD car. My dad had some cousins who were farmers and welders and amateur body-men/machinists. They used to do things in the long winters on the farm like taking old station wagons, hacking out the middle, welding them back together, and presto! Two door wagon. (They also made a garden tractor out of an Iron Duke from an old Tempest, a manual transmission, a shortened axle, and some angle iron. One of them owns a successful body shop now and his brother owns a repair shop.)

      I owned a 1982 Celebrity as my first car and I occasionally fantasized about turning it into a 2 seat coupe by cutting it apart and taking rear doors/seat section out, shortening the wheelbase by about 24in. Thank god no body ever taught me how to weld!

    • 0 avatar
      dmrdano

      Hey, Ed’dan (that’s a shortened version of your name in keeping with the spirit of the article):

      Don’t you just love those farm kids. The dumb farmer stereotype really does not work, because it has always seemed to me that they were some of the most clever people you will ever work with. Or apparently in this case, cleaver people. I had a farm friend that made a totally hydraulic drive, AWD, 4-wheel steer tractor out of junk in his shed. Another made a push-me-pull you out of two Omnis so he could host his own tractor pulls! By the way, I loved my Celebrity Wagon, wish I still had one.

      My name shortened would be D’o! I can hear Homer Simpson saying it…

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      My father has been a John Deere tractor salesman for 30 years, so I’ve always appreciated the ingenuity of the American Farmer. I knew a few who made log splitters out of left over scrap and a few who took old lawnmowers and added grease zerks in spindles where they didn’t exist before just so they could get decades of work out of supposedly “permanently greased” bearings.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    A lot of us have seen similarly shortened ’55-57 Chevy wagons and VW vans, but the cutting and fitting required to do this Vista Cruiserette would be a lot more complex, and interesting from that standpoint.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    @Starbird,

    There were a few factory 455 W30 Vista cruisers. Don’t remember how many, but I think it was less than 10.

    But, they really did make them.

    • 0 avatar
      starbird80

      The particular example I’m thinking of was a factory 455 with 4-barrel (thus the Rocket designation) but didn’t have the W30 package. The seller noted he’d put the hood on himself for looks, and still had the original hood.

      Those factory W30 455 VCs may have been limited to the ones built as support vehicles for the Indy 500, as companions to the convertible as pace car. I think only one is still known to exist.

      I’ve always said there should have been a 442 wagon, using the VC body. Saw a picture of one online once but couldn’t confirm it was a factory build. One really rare car if so.

      [EDIT]: here’s the 442 wagon I was thinking of: http://www.stationwagon.com/gallery/1972_Olds_Vista_Cruiser_442.html. The owner claims it is one of three built in addition to the 6 Hurst/Olds VCs for Indy (http://www.stationwagon.com/gallery/1972_Hurst_Olds_Vista_Cruiser.html).

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    In 1970, the Cutlass platform came in THREE wheelbases. All coupes has a 112 inch wheelbase. For sedans, it was 116, and the Vista Cruiser wagon stretched all the way to 121 inches, which was actually two inches longer than the full size Chevy wagon wheelbase of that year. The extra length was necessary on the Vista Cruiser to permit a front-facing third seat, to take maximum advantage of the Vista windows. It also permitted Olds to market the VC as almost equivalent to a full sized wagon, since there was no wagon in the 88/98 line at the time. I can’t say for sure what wheelbase this job has, but it could be the coupe wheelbase, and if so that would explain the extreme awkwardness of line, and would also mean the three rows of seats are all jammed up against each other, which is sort of what it looks like in the last photo on the eBay listing. Definitely the answer to a question nobody asked.

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