LIFESTYLE

Must-Have: Fake Wood on Wagon

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Only after selling his antique station wagon did Jaime Steve realize how practical and useful his wagon had been. He quickly set about shopping for a replacement classic wagon.

The search led him to a listing for a 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser located in Ocala, Fla. He purchased the vehicle in July 2007.

The following month Steve and his wife flew to Florida to claim their purchase. The month of August, as usual, was very hot and the Oldsmobile was not equipped with air conditioning.

The pair managed the summer heat by opening all of the windows, including the tailgate window. Beneath both ends of the dashboard are knee vents that brought more air blasting into the cabin. The real lifesaver, Steve remembers, was a plastic water bottle with a spray attachment topped with a battery-powered fan they aimed at themselves.

Oldsmobile 1972 advertising material on the Vista Cruiser read: “The exclusive observation roof turns any trip into a scenic drive.”

With the exception of some fading paint, the ‘72 Oldsmobile was in great condition. The odometer read 65,000 miles, which Steve believes is the actual mileage. When new the Vista Cruiser had a base price of $3,907.

In order to return the original sparkle to the Pinehurst Green paint, Steve drove his car only three months after buying it to New York for a family gathering at Thanksgiving. He left the car there with his uncle — who happens to own a body/paint shop. A year later, at Thanksgiving 2008, Steve traveled to New York and reclaimed his rejuvenated car.

Like many station wagons of that era this one has flanks covered with faux wood trim. Unlike most other wagons the trim on the Oldsmobile covers only the lower half of the sides.

“I wouldn’t have considered it if it didn’t have the faux wood,” Steve says. “It had to have the wood paneling.”

The Oldsmobile has a 121-inch wheelbase. The 4,373-pound car stretches 18 feet, 2.3 inches, bumper-to-bumper. The 350-cubic-inch V-8 engine is fed regular grade fuel through a two-barrel carburetor.

Three rooftop windows are reminiscent of the Greyhound Bus Scenicruisers. Inside the 76.8-inch wide Olds, the rear seat passengers have a pair of sun visors like those for the front seat occupants. The radio antenna is embedded in the Sof-T-Ray tinted windshield glass.

“The very unique radio is fully AM,” Steve says.

At the rearmost part of the roof is a spoiler, a feature that confounds Steve. The spoiler is above the two-way rear door/tailgate. The tailgate can swing open like a door or drop down like a typical tailgate.

While seated at the two-spoke steering wheel Steve admits that he occasionally misses having an outside mirror on the right side of the car. Inside the car is wall-to-wall carpeting.

“It’s 1970s avocado green,” he says.

Driving the Vista Cruiser is effortless thanks to the power brakes and the power steering. The spare tire is hidden away vertically inside the right rear fender. Consequently, the spare tire doesn’t encroach on any of the 105.2 cu.-ft. of cargo space.

Steve reports that his odometer now is approaching the 68,000-mile mark. He doesn’t hesitate to take his car on any journey. Recently he drove it to Boston.

“The car drives great,” he enthuses.

For your car to become the subject of the Classic Classics column, e-mail us your .jpeg image, plus brief details and phone number. Type “Classic Classics” in subject box and send to info@motormatters.biz. Or, send a photo (frontal 3/4 view) plus brief details and phone number to Vern Parker, 2221 Abbotsford Drive, Vienna, VA 22181.