1989 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser

1989 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser 

Bill & Marie Smith’s  1989 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser is one of three station wagons known to be owned by VAE Members. 

Bill Smith and his 1989 Oldsmobile Station Wagon

Bill Smith and his family began traveling from their home in Long Island in 1990 to our August car show. Since then, he believes they have attended at least 30 shows. Five of the trips were with this Oldsmobile station wagon with his wife, Marie, their two children, and packed full of luggage. 

They have fond memories of watching our Saturday parade from their motel yard, when our show was in Stowe. Marie’s parents would also travel north. In fact, the ’81 Lincoln that is currently in our classifieds was their transportation. Bill and Marie have a home in Hyde Park now, where the Olds now has a wonderful barn as its home. 

Bill was driving an ’85 Pontiac station wagon eighteen years ago when someone quietly suggested her husband might be interested in selling this Olds. It was owned by a fellow church member whose wife wanted a different car. Bill made a point to park the wagons together each Sunday. He had been watching the Oldsmobile for some time. With the owner’s wife’s little push, Bill and his family became the new owners. 

Besides normal maintenance, Bill has had to do nothing to the station wagon. It became the daily driver for six years and 52,000 miles has been added to the odometer since the church yard deal was made. Bill said the car’s most difficult days might have been the years his son drove it to his work at the chicken farm while in high school. Nothing air freshener, soap and water could not solve and the old car is doing fine today. We took the station wagon to lunch the day the photos were taken, and the ride was incredible. Not quite like a ship at sea, but close. 

The VAE was in need of station wagon photos a while back and only three were found in our entire membership. I am sure there are more, but it appears not. It has been suggested we should make a special place for station wagons at the August show. It will be interesting to see what happens. 

My neighbor spoke of growing up with station wagons. He said that most were driven until the wheels fell off and that might be why there are so few around today. I remember a neighbor from the 1970s who used a box truck to deliver his maple syrup around New England. As he got older and was looking for an easier ride, he decided to shift to his big station wagon and he was sorry he had not made the change earlier. I remember him going through at least three wagons over those years. They were not worth much when he retired them. I saw gallons of maple syrup lined up in his wagon from the back of the front seats to the tailgate, before leaving on one of his trips. He even had containers on the passenger side floor. Just doing some loose math today, I would guess there were 100 containers minimum and at 11 pounds per gallon, he was hauling 1100 pounds in his wagon. No wonder the wheels would fall off! 

So, how about it, you station wagon owners. I would like to take a tally, contact me if you have one in your barn. How about a story? You must have had an adventure or two with them, back in the day? 

I found there were 8929 Olds Custom Cruisers built in 1989. Bill’s wagon was part of GM’s second generation of wagons. The most powerful engine that GM used in these vehicles was a 350 cu in-170HP. Bill says his is a bit of a dog at 307 cu in-140HP. The third generation covered 1991-1992 when only about 12,000 were built. The American Standard Catalog claims GM’s last station wagon was built in 1996 under the Chevrolet banner. 


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