1978 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon
Pictures taken by owner Rich Rauch. Used with permission

This 1978 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser 6-passenger wagon was purchased for Rich Rauch in 1980 for $2700. That was a steal, as the sticker price only 2 years earlier had been around $8500, and he knew the car's history (it was leased for a salesman by his father's employer). Options included air conditioning, tilt wheel, cruise control, and automatic load-leveling air shocks (a fairly rare option). The wagon at that time had around 65,000 miles on the clock, plain steel wheelcovers, and the original blackwall Uniroyal tires (with plenty of tread remaining). After Rich transferred the Sanyo in-dash AM/FM cassette from his 1973 Pontiac Catalina sedan, and added rear speakers, whitewalls, gas shocks in front, and the correct Oldsmobile wire wheelcovers, he was proud to have one of the nicest rides on the Iowa State campus. It was not only the perfect vehicle for moving his belongings between home and school--a 400-mile round trip--but also transported other students home and back on selected weekends and breaks. All rode in comfort, since the Custom Cruiser was derived from the full-size Delta 88. On one trip, the muffler failed, and Rich was happy to replace it with a Maremont Turbo, giving the Olds Rocket 350 engine a throaty, yet appropriately subdued, growl.

After graduating in '82, Rich replaced the wire wheelcovers with the pictured Weldwheel Star Wire wheels (the Star Wire line was later acquired for sale by Cragar). The plain original wheels were used with snow tires for winter duty, preserving the Star Wires' shiny chrome finish even today. This photo was shot in 1983 at the exact moment when the Custom Cruiser turned over 100,000 miles, in a Hy-Vee Food Store parking lot--appropriate, says Rich, since it was a "grocery getter," the common car-nut's term for a station wagon. It didn't take long for that single, 24-year-old car nut to realize a station wagon was no longer his ride of choice. He sold it in 1984--for $2100--and kept the wheels. After many years in storage, the wheels now grace his more-recently-acquired '76 Bonneville show car which, along with his '65 and many other classic Pontiac photos and articles, can be seen at Rich's Classic Pontiac Server web site ( http://soli.inav.net/~pontiac/ ). Every so often, Rich thinks he should have held onto the only station wagon he's ever known. It was one of the most memorable, reliable--and, in some ways, unique--cars he's ever had.

Copyright © 1998 Steve Manning. All Rights Reserved
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