Cohort Pic(k) Of The Day: 1973 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser — Lots Of Cruising, Fewer Vistas

Let’s take a brief look at this Cohort find by nifticus392; a 1973 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, from the first year the wagon appeared modeling GM’s new colonnade body. Also, the first year the model appeared without the nifty roof window treatment that had once been its namesake. In other words, there were fewer vistas to enjoy on the new for ’73 Vista Cruiser.

But don’t you worry, a new sunroof Vista-Vent came instead of the old window arrangement. Gotta keep a few vistas on a Vista Cruiser, right?

The original Vista Cruiser was quite the cool setup, and CC has given it much praise before. Its roof echoed the glass domes popularized by ‘Vista Dome’ railroad cars and even GM’s own Scenic Cruiser, all part of a mid-century fascination with glass boxes. As such, the ’64 Vista Cruiser –and its corporate sibling the Buick Sportwagon– arrived to impress a crowded station market.

For those who don’t know its background, the Vista Cruiser/Sportwagon arrived alongside GM’s new for ’64 A-body intermediates. The new glassy wagons added a 5″ stretch on the A-body’s 115″ wheelbase, thus creating room for a forward-facing third seat arrangement. Lengthened doors allowed access, and the raised glassy roof added room for those riding in the third row, which basically sat over the rear axle. It’s all explained in more detail in our previous entries (links below).

Curiously, Oldsmobile dropped its full-size wagons a year after the arrival of the Vista Cruiser. Something about which the company had second thoughts a short time later, when for ’71 the new full-size Custom-Cruiser appeared in a stretched B-body platform. One of those ‘throw everything but the kitchen sink’ GM efforts, with its cool (and convoluted) clamshell gate serving as a show stopper.

With the eyes now on the new Custom-Cruiser, a more modest Vista Cruiser arrived along the new for ’73 colonnade intermediates. This time the model rode on the same 116″ wheelbase as the A-body sedans, while the neat glass dome was thrown into the dustbin of history.

Regardless, the name remained, now related to the model’s standard  sunroof  Vista-Vent.

Vista-Cruiser, The brand new wagon with a window on top. And that’s GM for you, one window to make up for the old setup of 4 and try to pass it as a gain.

Mind you, GM was still a powerhouse at the time. Whatever your thoughts on the A-body colonnades, the styling for each division was distinctive and filled with character. And in the case of the diminished Vista-Cruiser, while the concept had changed, the model still offered plenty of upscale options to the Oldsmobile faithful.

On the Vista Cruiser that meant; optional Morocceen interiors, standard Di-noc paneling, and a Rocket 350 V8. The model was still available in 2-seat or 3-seat versions, with rear window vents provided on the latter. However, the third row was now a far more conventional rear-facing setup.

Of course, sans glassy roof or stretched wheelbase, there wasn’t much of a case to be made for the Vista Cruiser. Under diminishing sales, the model was quietly dropped at the end of 1977, with Olds midsize wagons fully joining the Cutlass phenomenon.


Related CC reading:

Curbside Classic: 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser – GM’s Greatest Hit No. 8

Curbside Classic: 1966 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser – The Kiddie Wagon