History of the 1968-1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
Oldsmobile introduced the second generation Vista Cruiser in 1968 with new sheet metal and a lengthened 121-inch wheelbase that was still based on the stretched Cutlass/F-85 platform of the first generation Vista Cruiser. Like the first generation models, the new car’s freshened styling featured GM designer Pete Wolenza’s trademark sloped skylight “Vista Roof,” with a single piece of green or mirror tinted glass replacing the 2-piece affair in the roof of the previous generation. The 1969 model year saw a new front grille treatment, while 1970 models sported a subtle but complete restyling that makes them sometimes referred to as “generation 2A” cars. Minor front fascia changes continued each year until the end of production in 1972.
The Rocket 350-cid V-8 was standard throughout the second-gen wagon’s production run, with a 400-cid option being available until 1970, when a 455-cid option was listed that coincided with that model year's styling makeover. Standard transmissions were a two-speed automatic in 1968 and a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic thereafter, with rare three-speed console and four-speed floor-mounted Hurst manuals being available and especially desirable today. A fully collapsible steering column as well as optional shoulder belts and front disc brakes demonstrated GM’s heightening safety awareness during the late 1960s. A third row of seats was an option, and this was a departure from its contemporaries that had side and rear facing seats in this area. Cars so equipped from 1969 on also had a unique dual-action tailgate that could either be opened flat or to the side.
These iconic cruisers were a perfect evolution in response to America’s expanding interstate system that profoundly broadened a family’s vacation options, and represent an era that enthusiasts look fondly upon today. Just over 166,000 were built between 1968 and 1972, and they enjoy a lively Internet community and healthy parts support today.