The 1965 Oldsmobile Vista-Cruiser and Buick Sportwagon (identified as such in print and SportWagon on the car) took on new prominence at their respective divisions. That's because Oldsmobile and Buick discontinued their full-size station wagons after '64, leaving the stretched intermediates to contend with rival makes' big wagons.
The Sportwagon (left) and Vista-Cruiser were
the main wagons for their divisions starting in 1965.
Here's how the Vista-Cruiser looked compared against the Chrysler and Dodge wagons in an issue of The Automotive Examiner: "The 2-seat Custom Vista-Cruiser, Oldsmobile's super-capacity station wagon with its standard 250-horsepower V-8 engine, Jetaway transmission, power steering and power brakes is priced at $3,496. The 2-seat Dodge Polara station wagon with its standard 270-horsepower engine, automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes costs $3,515. A comparably equipped Chrysler Newport costs $3,904."
The publication also noted that, "considering power-to-weight ratio, the Vista-Cruiser's standard engine pulls 14.9 pounds per horsepower, while the Dodge pulls 15.5 pounds per horsepower and the Chrysler pulls over 16 pounds."
In comparison with Chevrolet, "Oldsmobile's optional 315-horsepower Cutlass V-8 is available in the Vista-Cruiser for only $34.43 extra. Chevrolet's 300 horsepower Turbo-Fire V-8 costs $137.75 more than their standard V-8 and is still 15 horsepower less than the Cutlass V-8."
Changes were few for 1965. As indicated, the Vista-Cruiser's standard engine got a horsepower boost to 250 at 4,800 rpm, accompanied by 10 more pound-feet of torque. The optional version now made 315 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. At 7.75314, tires for the high-top Olds and Buick wagons were .25 inch wider than in '64.
Styling was updated inside and out in line with the rest of the F-85/Cutlass and Special/Skylark models. The Vista-Cruiser's newest appearance feature was a grille that showed the first flowering of the "barbell" look (deeper spaces for the headlights than for the grille opening between them) that would be an Oldsmobile styling cue for the next few years. Side trim on Customs matched the new full-length lower-body brightwork applied to Cutlasses and F-85 Deluxes.
Sportwagons traded in a front bumper that dipped in the center for one that rose. The round emblem in the center of the '64 grille was deleted, replaced by a small hood ornament that bore the Buick tri-shield logo. Though other 1965 Skylarks adopted new spearlike side trim, Sportwagons carried over a wide, brushed-metal panel from the previous year that contained the signature Buick "ventiports."
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