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World's Rarest 1971 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser Found in Storage Unit, Needs Second Chance

When talking about rare and desirable Oldsmobile cars, we usually think about the 442 and Cutlass from the golden muscle car era or the first-generation 88. I'm pretty sure no Olds gearhead would mention the Custom Cruiser in this conversation, but here's one worth checking out.
1971 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser barn find 7 photos
1971 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser1971 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser1971 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser1971 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser1971 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser1971 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser
Kept in a storage unit for many years, this Custom Cruiser might seem like a mundane 1970s station wagon to most people, but it's actually a rare grocery getter with a one-of-one status. What makes it special, you ask? Well, it's the Venetian Red over tan color combo.

Sure, this red hue isn't exactly special since Oldsmobile offered it in the regular palette during the 1971 model year, but the fact that it's paired with tan upholstery is. You see, Venetian Red was only available with a black interior back in the day, so the owner had to place a special order with GM to get the tan upholstery. And it's the only Custom Cruiser that left the factory in this layout in 1971.

Yes, it's not a big deal overall, but this seemingly unexciting station wagon is actually rarer than many iconic cars from the era, including the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang. Even if we ignore its one-of-one configuration.

That's because Oldsmobile produced only 13,981 Custom Cruisers for 1971, the nameplate's first year on the market. And fewer than 10,000 of them left the factory with the three-row interior, like this Venetian Red example here.

Unfortunately, the grocery getter hasn't been driven in decades and it's in pretty bad shape. There's lots of rust around the side skirts and the wheel arches, while the interior is too far gone to become usable without proper restoration.

The numbers-matching V8 engine is still under the hood, though. These wagons were fitted with the company's ubiquitous 455-cubic-inch (7.5-liter) Rocket V8 in 1971, available in either two- or four-barrel configurations. While the former delivered 185 horsepower, the latter came with 225 horses on tap. Both versions came with three-speed automatic transmissions of the THM 400 variety.

Showing about 164,000 miles (263,932 km) on the clock, this Custom Cruiser is for sale as we speak, according to YouTube's "Mr. Goodpliers." But while it would be awesome to see it restored back to its former glory, I'm not getting my hopes up. Custom Cruisers in Good condition can be had for less than $20,000 and restoring this example would be far too expensive relative to its value.

Yes, it will require a ton of luck, but maybe an Olds enthusiast will give this wagon a second chance.

Introduced in 1971, the Custom Cruiser was Oldsmobile's first full-size wagon since the 88 Fiesta was dropped in 1964. Slotted above the Vista Cruiser, it featured GM's then-new "clamshell" tailgate design.

The two-piece unit included a tailgate that slid into a recess under the cargo floor and a glass window slid up into the roof. It became the first power-operated tailgate in automotive history. The Custom Cruiser was redesigned in 1977 and 1991 before being discontinued for good after the 1992 model year.

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Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.


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