Vista Variant: 1968 Buick Sport Wagon 400 – Sold?

by | Feb 2024 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Wagon Wednesday

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April 10, 2024, Update – We confirmed the listing for this “ClassiFIND” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

It’s rare to find a car built by General Motors (“GM”) that wasn’t shared by at least two of the company’s divisions.  Contrary to popular believe the glass roofed, three-row, Vista Cruiser station wagon body style was not exclusive to Oldsmobile.  Buick also offered the unique roofline in its Skylark line as the SportWagon.

GM redesigned its “A” Body mid-size cars for the 1968 model year.  The Buick Special and Skylark models built on this platform featured a dramtic “Sweepspear” side sculpturing, while the wagon’s roof replaced the previously-used split main skylight with a one-piece skylight over the second-row seat. The lengthwise skylights along the cargo area remained the same and the simulated woodgrain paneling was offered optionally. The rarest of the Sportwagon models in 1968 is the 400, which as the name implies featured Buick’s big block 400 cubic inch V8.  Ordering this engine was the closest you could get to a Buick Syklark Gran Sport in a station wagon body.

This Metallic Brown 1968 Buick Sportwagon 400 for sale, first spotted on Craigslist in Palm Desert, California in February 2024, is presented as a rust-free California Black Plate car. While this California car is remains a rust-free example, the cloth reupholstered seats and the deep metallic brown paint have us calling this Sportwagon a sympathetically preserved example.

Last offered for $16,900, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask aligns with this guide’s five-year results for all Buick Sportwagon body styles and powertrains.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can get a sense of what comparable examples sold for recently:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 Very Good” estimate of $16,300 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $24,500.

The 1968 Buick Sport Wagon 400 represented a pinnacle in American automotive engineering and design during the late 1960s. As a variant of Buick’s full-size station wagon lineup, the Sport Wagon 400 embodied a blend of style, performance, and utility that appealed to families and enthusiasts alike. This detailed technical description will delve into the key features and specifications of this iconic vehicle.

At the heart of the 1968 Buick Sport Wagon 400 lay a robust powerplant: the Buick Wildcat 400 V8 engine. This engine was renowned for its displacement of 400 cubic inches (hence the name), translating to approximately 6.6 liters. It was a member of Buick’s Wildcat family of engines, characterized by their emphasis on performance and smooth power delivery.

This formidable V8 engine boasted impressive power figures for its time. With horsepower ratings typically hovering around 340-360 horsepower and torque numbers reaching up to 440 lb-ft, the Sport Wagon 400 offered spirited acceleration and ample towing capability. These figures were achieved through a combination of factors, including a generous bore and stroke, efficient combustion chamber design, and advanced tuning of the carburetor and ignition system.

In terms of performance metrics, the Sport Wagon 400 could sprint from 0 to 60 miles per hour in around 8 seconds, with quarter-mile times in the mid to high 15-second range. Such performance was commendable for a vehicle of its size and purpose, making the Sport Wagon 400 a versatile choice for both daily driving and occasional spirited outings.

Backing up the potent Wildcat 400 engine was a selection of transmission options designed to suit varying driving preferences and requirements. The most common transmission choice for the Sport Wagon 400 was the Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission. Renowned for its smooth shifting and robust construction, the Turbo-Hydramatic 400 provided seamless power delivery and enhanced drivability.

For those seeking a more engaging driving experience, Buick also offered a 3-speed manual transmission as an alternative. While less common than the automatic variant, the manual transmission option appealed to driving enthusiasts who preferred greater control over gear selection and engine revs.

Power from the transmission was sent to the rear wheels via a durable rear-wheel-drive (RWD) configuration. This setup, coupled with a robust drivetrain featuring heavy-duty components, ensured reliable performance and durability under a variety of driving conditions.

The 1968 Buick Sport Wagon 400 rode on a sturdy body-on-frame chassis, providing a solid foundation for its station wagon body style. This chassis design offered a balance of rigidity and flexibility, contributing to a comfortable ride quality and predictable handling characteristics.

The suspension system of the Sport Wagon 400 was engineered to strike a balance between ride comfort and handling prowess. Up front, an independent coil spring suspension setup soaked up road imperfections while maintaining precise steering response. At the rear, a coil spring suspension with a solid axle provided a stable platform for carrying passengers and cargo.

Visually, the 1968 Buick Sport Wagon 400 exuded an aura of elegance and sophistication typical of Buick’s design language during the late 1960s. Its sleek lines, chrome accents, and distinctive grille treatment captured the essence of American automotive styling of the era.

Inside the cabin, the Sport Wagon 400 offered spacious accommodations for up to eight passengers across three rows of seating. High-quality materials, ergonomic design, and thoughtful amenities enhanced passenger comfort and convenience on long journeys.

In summary, the 1968 Buick Sport Wagon 400 represented a masterful synthesis of performance, utility, and style. With its potent V8 engine, versatile transmission options, solid chassis, and comfortable interior, the Sport Wagon 400 epitomized the golden age of American station wagons. Whether ferrying families on cross-country road trips or cruising down suburban streets in style, the Sport Wagon 400 left an indelible mark on automotive history as a true classic of its time.

Based on the pictures, this brown metallic 1968 Buick Sportwagon for sale appears a rust-free California Black Plate car that’s benefitted from a respray as well as the addition of cloth upholstery for at least the first two rows of seats. Oddly, the seller does not show any pictures of either the engine bay or the third row seat. We would want to see pictures of those before sending a deposit.

If you are serious about buying this Sportwagon 400, you can start the conversation by using the contact information provided by the seller in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please mention that you saw their Buick Vista Cruiser featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1968 BUICK SPORT WAGON 400
Rare 400 Cu. In. Model
Rare Model with Power Windows …All Working.
Original California Black Plate.
Purchased from Original Owner’s Estate in 2017. Registrations dating back to the 60’s and 70’s.
Original Owner’s manuals.
Runs and drives great
Buick Rally Wheels with BF Goodrich T/A’s
Original Wheels and Hubcaps with whitewalls included.
Originally Purchased in 1968 from Famous Los Angeles Buick Dealership, Irv White Buick.
Always a California Car — No Rust.
Seats show no signs of wear or Tear.
Headliner is good with no rips or sags.
Glass is good including infamous curved roof glass.
Priced Well Below Blue Book Value.
Current Tags and No Smog Required
Similar to Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
Call or Text Anytime

Show or go: What would you do with this restored 1968 Buick Sportwagon 400 for sale? Please comment below and let us know!

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