24 May 2013

A summer romance with Vera the Vista Cruiser

The Vista Cruiser came into our lives at Hagerty as the result of an intense search to find a classic wagon to take on a classic summer vacation and write about it for Hagerty Classic Cars magazine. While all of us love the look of classic American wagons from the 1950s, they've gotten expensive and niceties like seatbelts, A/C and disc brakes don't figure into the equation. The sweet spot, we thought, would be the late 1960s to the early 1970s, where we'd stand a chance of getting some of the above while still retaining a classic, wood-sided, don't-make-me-come-back-there wagon look.

It came down to a Ford Country Squire or an Olds Vista Cruiser. We started by trolling two of our favorite sites, ClassicCars.com and Bring-a-Trailer.com. BaT posts great stuff and their rabid fan base seems to snap up things fast. We just weren't quick enough on the draw with several of the promising cars that they posted. Eventually, we found what looked like a suitable candidate on Craigslist in New Jersey. North Jersey isn't exactly my default location when looking for a classic car, but this one looked the part. Nice, dark green metallic paint with a green interior and rally wheels.

After getting a Road Ready Certified report from ClassicCars.com, we bought the car and had the always-reliable Reliable Carriers ship it back to Michigan. After a tune-up and an A/C charge, it hit the road with our VP of Finance Dan Beutler and his family for the classic summer vacation story. Other than a tire issue, the car performed just fine for more than 1,500 miles. We used it in a couple of holiday promotional videos (in this one, Hagerty PR Manager Jonathan Klinger famously ties the Christmas tree to the roof backward), and stored it for the winter. Our plan was to feature it on Bring-a-Trailer and Classic Cars.com but we let the cat out of the bag via Facebook and we were inundated with interest. So now, Vera the Vista Cruiser, as Dan's family named it, is starting a new life in Pennsylvania and hopefully has more than a few classic vacations left in her.

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