Home » For Sale »Weekend Edition » Currently Reading:

Weekend Edition – An Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser Clamshell Wagon on eBay

Jim Brennan October 13, 2012 For Sale, Weekend Edition 26 Comments

Welcome to another Hooniverse Weekend, and here is a car that generated a lot of email chatter between the editors for the past couple of days. Yes, it is a Station Wagon built during the Malaise Era. Yea, it’s from an orphan brand which makes it even more desirable. But the comments between the staff were based on the fact that if you want something like this in today’s environment, you would have to spend at least Sixty Grand, and even then it wouldn’t have the presence that this car has. Come and explore this 1973 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser Wagon…

According to the listing:

Here up for bids on eBay is this very well preserved 1973 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon. This was a one owner car for 38 years until it was acquired by a collector last year. Always garaged, the car is in an incredible state of preservation – it wears all original paint, glass, chrome and trim – and all of it is in excellent condition.

The car is well optioned; it has A/C, cruise control, 3rd seat, tinted glass, tilt wheel, power tailgate and a roof rack. On top of it all it’s powered by the mighty 455 Rocket motor. To say that the car has long legs is an understatement, this is definitely a highway cruiser that has power to spare. The survival rate on these clamshell GM wagons was low, as they aged the combination of the big block motor and beefy wagon construction made them a favored choice for demolition derbies. Among the survivors still out there, excellent examples are rare. Here’s a chance to own a really stellar example of a 70’s icon, the classic American Station Wagon.

Having original paint eliminates a lot of guesswork about a car’s past, what you see it what you get. This car presents extremely well, you can tell it’s been garaged and cared for. Finished in “Cranberry Red Poly” the paint still shows good gloss with no faded or baked out areas. The body panels on this big barge are unbelievably straight, just very impressive in person. There are ZERO rust issues anywhere – no bubbling, no blistering, no problems. The car rides on a set of nearly new Hankook Optimos.

Body panel fit is excellent throughout, all doors close with a precise ‘click’. The woodgrain siding is in terrific condition with no peeling or fading anywhere. This wagon always seems to draw people in to talk about it, and most of them have a story about “the one they had growing up” (even if it wasn’t a Oldsmobile!). The sheer size of this wagon sets it apart from the plastic econoboxes you see today. At 19 feet long and weighing in at over 5000 lbs, GM wasn’t kidding when they labeled these “full size”.

The roof rack is in terrific condition. These wagons were designed by styling guru Bill Mitchell. They may not be as iconic as his split window Corvette, but they definitely have their own look. The clamshell tailgate was introduced into the GM lineup in 1971. For those that have never witnessed a clamshell tailgate in operation, it’s pretty trick. The glass slides up into the roof, and the bottom panel disappears beneath the car. I’ve heard just as many “wows” from adults as I have from kids when operating it. In the 4th photo you’ll notice the “Ziebart” sticker.

This is a very detailed listing for a car that I think is truly incredible. This is a reserve auction, and with over two days to go the top bid is $13,800. The Clamshell Wagons from Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac and Oldsmobile were all interesting in their day, but the top spec Oldsmobiles and Buicks were the “Luxury SUV” of this time period. They had a presence that their rivals didn’t have (Like The Ford Country Squire, Mercury Colony Park, and Chrysler Town & Country). So the question is this… What do you think of this wagon, and would you aspire to own one? See the listing here: 1973 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser Wagon

  • Officer Farva

    I don't mean to sound rude to anyone who likes these types of cars but this one just doesn't do it for me. The dash is spread unevenly and appears cluttered on the driver's side.

  • stickmanonymous

    It makes me happy knowing that someone, somewhere, decided to build this.

    It makes me even happier to know that this one still exists.

    On a slightly related note, it's always struck me as ironic that the later Oldsmobiles are probably the only wagons I -wouldn't- want as a diesel.

  • Van_Sarockin

    Beautiful shape. But it was nothing special in its day. A thousand pounds heavier and larger than it needs to be – you can smuggle people in those doors. And, as well kept as it is, I have to think it's at least ten grand too much. But, yeah, they sure don't make 'em like that anymore.

  • dukeisduke

    Being a '73, it wouldn't be "Poly" paint; it's probably Magic Mirror acrylic lacquer. This was the first year for 5mph bumpers, and engineers were pretty creative. This Olds, for example, used grilles with spring-loaded hinges pivoting at the top, so they could move back as the bumper pushed in on its energy absorbers.

    • Stumack

      "Poly" is a generic term for metallic paint that was used on paint charts in this era.

      • dukeisduke

        Hmmmm… I've never seen that. Here's the DuPont color code page from 1973, showing "Cranberry Red Met. (Code 74)":

        The first "Poly" paint I know of is DuPont Imron, which came along later in the '70s, and required full breathing apparatus to spray. At first it was only used by body shops and professional painters. GM plants at the time were using either acrylic lacquer or acrylic enamel, depending on the plant.

  • dukeisduke

    And the wheels are Buick, that somebody modified with Olds center caps.

    • I'm guessing that 'somebody' worked in the factory. Those are a lot like the wheels I had on my '73 Pontiac Grand Ville, only those had a Pontiac emblem on the center cap.

      • dukeisduke

        At the time, Olds offered some Polycast (molded urethane over stamped steel) wheels that had five eight openings. I'm pretty sure the wheels on this car are Buick exclusive. The seller photos include a picture of the original Olds wheelcovers. Here's a picture of the Polycast Super Stock IV:

        <img src="http://oldsjunction.classicoldsmobile.com/images/Wheels/ss4.jpg"&gt;

    • salguod

      I was thinking the same thing, but I'm not certain that Olds (and I guess Pontiac) didn't have versions too. It's also possible that the Olds caps from other wheels fit the Buick wheels.

  • JackMaz

    Great example of the clamshells. In my book, these rank high among worthwhile, usable classic cars. Mechanical parts are cheap and accessible thanks to all the sedans, coupes and convertibles built off the same frame. But you get a stand-out body that brings people together. Whether it's comments at the gas station or hauling a dozen friends to the movies, people absolutely love these big ole GMs.

    The only drawbacks: gas mileage and finding the damn weatherstripping for the rear glass.

    Clamshells were everywhere, every kid rode in one. They got used up and were suddenly gone. That modern-day obscurity is what pulls on people's sentimentality. I swear, you wouldn't get more comments if you drove a yellow Ferrari.

  • Oh, hell yes. Gimme. We had a '71 Pontiac Safari wagon when I was a kid, and I used to have a '69 Cutlass, so this is a double whammy for me. The thing is gorgeous! I can't remember the last time I saw a clamshell wagon, let alone one in such fine condition. Sure, by 1973 that big block was getting choked down with smog controls, but at least it doesn't have a catalytic converter. This big boat most likely moves along just fine. And, fold down the back seat, and you could haul full sheets of drywall, no problem at all.

  • Stu_Rock

    I concede that it's not the most attractive wagon design, but I still want it badly. The current bid is still a nice price for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if the reserve is a little too high.

  • Officer Farva

    I don't mean to sound rude to anyone who likes these types of cars but this one just doesn't do it for me. The dash is spread unevenly and appears cluttered on the driver's side.

  • My family had one just like this, only it was a Ford. And it was blue. And it was a '75.

  • aastrovan

    That is a fine old ride,a relic from the past.What a different world.

  • OdMan

    Awesome car – my favourite of all clamshells.

    Deep rich burgundy paint offset by woodgrain. I love the fins on the rear quarters. Interesting packaging challenges with the forward-facing rear row and the differential. I can imagine how the 455 and its road-hugging weight would make it a comfortable highway cruiser.

  • Vetteman61

    I'm actually restoring a 1971 Pontiac Grand Safari for my wife right now. She wanted it and needed a car until I finish builder her other project.
    <img src="http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t24/vetteman61/IMG_2596-1.jpg&quot; width="600">
    <img src="http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t24/vetteman61/IMG_2762.jpg&quot; width="600">

    I have a build thread over at the Station Wagon Forum.

    • You, sir, have great taste in cars. The same taste as my family had back in like 1973 when we bought the same exact car. I wish you the best of luck in restoring that fine automobile. I love it!

  • Vetteman61

    Sorry, I accidentally uploaded the avatar picture: This one has the 455 and almost every option you could get. We're pretty sure it was a Pontiac Rep. Demo.

    <img src="http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t24/vetteman61/IMG_2596.jpg&quot; width="600">

    I love that Olds wagon.

    • Vetteman61

      I give up.

  • salguod

    Love the clamshells and the Olds may be my favorite because of those tunneled taillights.

  • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    This is likely on the same chassis as the '73 Coupe deVille, which I've owned, and I'd rock this wag in a heartbeat! I still miss that old Caddy…

    Now…to find my own private oil reserve and refinery. Count on single digit MPG, but many a smile.

    I know most people dislike the battering ram styling of the malaise, but I like it, when it's done properly. This one is.

    Though, cruise control and A/C, yet manual windows. Go figure.

    Just hope you never have to replace one of those rear 'quarter' windows… Beautiful, but I bet they're both scarce and a small fortune to replace.

    • Van_Sarockin

      I was noticing that too, about those rear side windows. GM wasn't shy back then about pushing the boundaries of glass technology. From windshield tints, to the boat tail Riv, to that Tornado rear window a few years later. And it wasn't so many years earlier that everyone was using flat glass everywhere.

  • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    Thinking more about glass, and GM's embracing of the 'future', I remember the rear quarter windows in my '73 CDV were articulated, so they went almost all the way down.

    I wonder if the rear door windows on these do the same… When down, they have a triangular piece still visible, but it's not like the window is still 1/3 up.