We’re featuring this 1972 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser we found here on Craigslist in Walnutport, Pennsylvania for the asking price of $11,000. The NADA Classic, Collectible, Exotic, and Muscle Car Appraisal Guide currently lists the “Low”, “Medium”, and “High” values as $6,775, $13,850, and $25,000, respectively, so the private seller has his rare wagon realistically priced.
In the 1960s and 1970s, station wagons were as common in American suburbs as today’s SUVs. At the time, how the tailgate and window assembly operated was a big deal for wagon buyers, as these cars were much bigger and built before gas-charged struts became available for automotive applications. Women were the predominant drivers of these cars, so a common complaint was the weight of the tailgate and the force needed to close it. By the late sixties, nearly all of the domestic manufacturers featured dual-action tailgates that opened from the side when mom hauled the kids to school and downward for dad when he wanted to haul wood paneling to build the basement rec room.
For 1971, GM upped the ante by introducing its redesigned “clam shell” full-size station wagons that featured a tailgate that disappeared with the turn of a key. The quick video below shows the clam shell in operation.
Also for 1971, the growing popularity of station wagons allowed GM to expand the body style across every division save Cadillac for the first time since the late 1950s as suburban consumers moved upmarket with their new car purchases. However, the case of Oldsmobile, while the Oldsmobile Delta 88 sedan was mechanically related to the Chevrolet Impala/Caprice, General Motors designed the Custom Cruiser slightly separate from the Chevrolet full-size station wagon lines. Specifically, the Custom Cruiser used the longer 127 wheelbase C-Body chassis (Oldsmobile 98, Buick Electra, Cadillac DeVille) to accommodate a forward facing third row seat; the Custom Cruisers GM siblings still offered a rear-facing seat due to their shorter B-body wheelbase. With a total of eight-passenger accommodation and a weight of nearly 5,200 pounds, the Custom Cruiser was one of the largest vehicles ever built by Oldsmobile.
The private seller states that his car has only 54,000 original miles and when new received a treatment of Ziebart undercoating. He provides detailed pictures of the stone chip patina as well as the sole rust spot currently on this time capsule:
This survivor features the original Rocket 455 cubic inch V8 mated to a TurboHydramatic 400 automatic transmission. Although a dark picture, the engine bay appears to a condition consistent with the original low mileage. Note the original bias belted spare tire that the seller reports has never been used!
This example features a parchment vinyl interior that presents well over than what appears to be a minor seam split at the top of the driver’s side cushion. This Custom Cruiser comes equipped with factory air conditioning featuring a brand new compressor, power seats, and a power tailgate. Oddly, despite having those options, this example still features manual roll-up windows. The three pictures below illustrate how manufacturers achieved eight passenger capacity before the advent of minivans and SUVs.
This low-mileage survivor is a very rare site these days as most of these wagons ended up being killed at Demolition Derbies. We can’t think of anything better than to cruise with seven of your closest friends or family down to Vineland, NJ in this monster to watch movies at Jersey’s only remaining Drive-In theater. Good luck with the purchase!