The Vista Cruiser came from watching too much TV. I always wanted a wagon that I could use to take my kids to the beach and on vacation, but it needed to be a hot rod. I you watch the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation, when they go to pick up what became the Royal Queen Family Truckster, their previous family car that got crushed was an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser wagon, so that was cool. I found this one in the Nevada high desert. It had the W30 package so it was basically a 442 wagon, and the kid who owned it had blown the engine by letting it run out of oil. His dad sold it with no motor or trans. My wife thought it was ugly and reminded her of a school bus.
I put in a Chevy drivetrain with a 454 big-block and 700R4 trans, Hotchkis suspension, good brakes and all that stuff. When I found out that all the glass made it unbearable in the summertime, the guys in the shop redid the interior with front and rear air conditioning, Dakota Digital gauges, and all everything to make it more comfortable, and we replace the 454 with a modern LS3, so now it’s a hot rod that we can take our kids on a vacation, like the movie.
We build cars because we love them but if we don’t use them to make memories with our families, what good are they?