By on December 7, 2010


It’s one of my favorite cars. Don’t ask me why. Engine straight from a Vette. Rear wheel drive as God rightfully intended. Big leather seats that are as thick as a saddle, and a ride that Norman Rockwell would approve of. This late great Roadmaster has 158,000 miles and nary a check engine light or mechanical issue in sight. It rides great. The cosmetics? Not bad. A little glue on the door strips here and there thanks to Georgia summers and GM bean counters. I’ll tell ya, if gas were $1 a gallon this would have already been in my garage. It rides like heaven but with gas treading $3 in the low demand winter season, it’s hitting the road; especially since I paid $1385 for the beast.

Rent: I tried renting this thing for weeks and nobody would touch it. “It’s too big.” “A V8? No, I can’t afford the gas bill.” Every time this car was parked besides a Park Avenue or Bonneville, it was left alone. You would think that this would be the ultimate of rentals? Well, let me fill you in on something. Women hate them and men… go straight to the Bonneville. The dowdy styling of the exterior combined with the Shamu inspired Caprice side profile couldn’t quicken a pulse.

Finance: This would be the perfect retiree vehicle. Except it’s too big, consumes too much gas, and well… most retirees don’t finance their rides. A young person wouldn’t give it much street cred and middle aged folks are too busy trying to make ends meet. The Roadmaster may offer more space and power than an SUV from the same era. But it doesn’t have the high seating position or the pseudo-tough styling. It’s an older car for older folks… and therefore…

Sell: Yep, I sold it.  But here’s the surprise. I sold it to a young guy in his early 20’s. Why? How? Huh? Well it all comes down to some very creative advertising. The Vette engine. The Caprice rep. Great pictures of great seats… it went something like this…

✪CORVETTE ENGINE – 260 HORSEPOWER – LEATHER – BUICK ROADMASTER LIMITED✪

This Buick Roadmaster is the same exact vehicle as a Chevrolet Caprice .

However it comes with…

✪ 260 Horsepower – Corvette LT1 Engine

✪ A far better Leather Interior

✪ Premium Surround Sound

✪ Four Wheel ABS – Cruise – 158k original miles

✪ Enough space in the back to start a family

We can be reached at….

We have 100% positive Ebay feedback (username: …) as well as low (but firm) prices.

At $1995 it was out the door. You would think a car that once attracted the most affluent clientele in GM’s lineup would be worth more. Perhaps it is. But after 60+ days of sitting around it was time to slap a good price on it and send this Q-ship on another maiden voyage. I loved the car. But don’t regret the profit.

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55 Comments on “Rent, Lease, Sell or Kill: 1995 Buick Roadmaster Limited...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    Nicely done, and glad you found a niche buyer (maybe with your “start a family” line…LOL).
     
    Wood paneling AND aftermarket wheels? That’s an eccentric WIN in my book.

    EDIT: The original EPA sticker was 17/25…that’s not bad at all. About on par with much smaller, newer AWD wagons from Subie/VW/Audi. Also in line with GM Epsilon crossovers, and much better than most SUVs. Won’t these things tow something close to 5,000#?

    • 0 avatar
      Bancho

      Corrected for the 2008 and onwards EPA ratings, it’s 15/23. Not quite close to the Subie/VW/Audi and more akin to the Enclave/Traverse/Acadia which really fill the role this beast once did. Still, it’s probably a pretty sweet ride especially for <$2000.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      (IMHO, the adjusted 2008+ ratings are less accurate and were done to appease leadfooters)
       
      My old lady’s Passat 4mo V6 is 17/24 (original sticker) and has been pretty true to those numbers. Most Subie H6 and hi-po 4bangers are within ~1mpg of that. It’s the more economical 4-pots (Audi/Subie) that get the reasonable numbers, but most these cars still manage to fly under the radar as the relative guzzlers that they are.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Ash78
       
      Aftermarket?!
      Those are original 96 Caprice SS rims!

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      I agree with Bancho; I’ve had several friends who owned these, went on a long trip with one of them, and real world mileage is comparable to the original EPA numbers.  It’s sad, because based on the original numbers these cars would not have been eligible for Cash for Clunkers.  It’s one of a number of non-guzzler cars, actually surprisingly efficient for their size and technological simplicity, that got hit hard by unfair revised numbers and ended up on the C4C chopping block as a result.  Some of the others that come to mind are early 90’s Town Cars and most 4.5 and 4.9 engined Cadillacs.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Damnit – I was going to say “Sell it to me!” I’ve got a soft spot for these all American V8 barges – and considering I have a company fuel card, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about how thirsty they are.

  • avatar

    Stephen, those big GM wagons are so cool. There’s almost a cult-like following surrounding them. And although I’ve never owned one I understand that they get almost 25 miles per gallon on the highway. Two years ago I wrote a blog about them — Cult Cars: Chevy Caprice Classic and Buick Roadmaster Station Wagons — here’s the link. http://bit.ly/eZCBl8. I have a feeling you’ll enjoy the article.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I love these cars. Have had a 94 Roadie Estate and a 94 Cad Brougham. You definitely want the LT1 which came in 94, 95, and the last year 96.  96s are the ones to get for for a major improvement, OBD II. An electrical starting problem on the Cad cost me thousands to get right. Would have been cheaper and easier with the OBD II. I bought the Buick with 165,000K miles for about $2,000 and drove it as a daily driver for 3 years. Did some cosmetic improvements and sold for $4,000 with over 200K miles. Weak points are the front ends (a lifetime allignment at Firestone stores is a deal at $169) and some plastic parts in the cooling system, which I had a plumber remake in copper.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      There seem to be two schools of thought about early vs. late.  Some people say the pre-LT1 1991-93 models have lower maintenance costs and fewer problems.  The LT1 is zippy, to be sure, but a 5.7 liter 1991-93 will do pretty well by itself.  It’s the 5 liter cars that are a bit sluggish.  A friend of mine has a ’92 Custom Cruiser 5.7 and then later on a ’94 Roadie LT1.  I drove both and the difference favored the LT1 but wasn’t all that dramatic IMO.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Enough space in the back to start a family

     
    That line hasn’t convinced my lady yet that we ought to have one.  Sigh.
     
    I’m glad you sold it because I saw the pic, read the description, and thought… “NO MUST RESIST THE B-body TEMPTATION!  I’m getting an engagement ring for Christmas and I’m going to Ohio for two weeks to visit family this summer.  Must not go to bank account for the mother of all station wagons!”  I drove dozens of the previous generation “box” style in high school because of the company rides my father’s salesman job provided.

  • avatar
    86er

    Boy, just when the soul-crushing conformity of the automotive world was getting me down, a nice antidote arrives in the guise of a 95 Roadmaster.

    I still kick myself for passing on an estate sale 94 a few years back.  My Vic was on the insurance bubble due to a minor collision and lo and behold this 94 with 62,000 miles shows up in the classifieds. 

    I drove it, loved it, bit my lip to avoid buying it on the spot, and proceeded to wait for a few weeks while the glacial insurance process proceeded.  Meanwhile, the asking price plunges from $3500 CDN to $2900 CDN, more lip-biting ensues, and then on the same day that the Roadmaster sells, my insurance claim comes through and the Vic narrowly avoids Total Loss.

    Now some lucky sonofabitch that isn’t me is driving in style.  Oh well, at least the Vic avoided an untimely end.  I couldn’t have sent that to the crusher (even if it meant getting more on the payout than I paid for it in 2007).  But I would’ve had to sell it for a song.   

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    CORVETTE ENGINE*
    *Minus 40 horsepower, aluminum heads and four-bolt mains. Actually, not really the same engine at all but not that you care because you stopped reading after “CORVETTE ENGINE”.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      The wording also implies that the Caprice didn’t come with the same engine.

    • 0 avatar
      dculberson

      The Caprice was offered with the same engine, but it was optional.  Not all 94-96 Caprices have the LT1, but all 94-96 Roadmasters do.

    • 0 avatar

      Hahaha. Saying “CORVETTE ENGINE” here is sort of akin to saying “MUSTANG ENGINE” when referring to the 4.6s that ended up in the Panthers (and I have heard people say this – although I’ve also heard idiots claim that a police package Crown Vic has a V-12). Same displacement, similar block, lotsa changes (SOHC vs DOHC) and way less hp.

  • avatar
    86er

    Rent: I tried renting this thing for weeks and nobody would touch it. “It’s too big”….Women hate them and men… go straight to the Bonneville.

    I hope this doesn’t violate the flaming rules if I say “what a bunch of losers”.  A Bonneville over this?  Isn’t that what Milhouse’s dad drove on The Simpsons? 

    Next thing you know, a mop-headed little upper middle class brat will be telling me these things are the epitome of humiliation on a Toyota commercial for the Highlander… and, too late.

    • 0 avatar

      For what it’s worth, the Bonnie has the 3800 V6 that’s cheaper to keep up, lighter on gas and, if it has the post-95 Series II/III engines, leaves a wide but somewhat tolerable performance gap.
      A few years ago, I probably would have bought th…..nah, I would have bought a 96 Brougham D’Elegance.  I’m a sucker for Caddies.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Ed/ Steve
     
    Could you set up a poll and see what percentage of your readership loves the Buick Roadmaster?  Looks like it is clocking a 90%+ approval rating.  If I lived near my father-in-law (much better wrencher than me) we would already have one.

  • avatar
    ajla

    From reading your ad, it seems like the reputation of the Corvette, specifically the engine, helped you to sell a different non-Corvette GM car.
     
    Almost could be called a “Halo Effect”.

  • avatar
    pauldun170

    I would have bought it and I’m a militant manual transmission type of guy

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Expect it to be riding on 22″ wheels before week’s end :(

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    I’m in my mid/late 20’s and I would have bought this thing if I had the cash to spare. I think some 9c1 suspension bits would swap over. A few cosmetics touch-ups and it would be a cool/fun/cheap ride. Unfortunately, being the northeast, I have little use for it and I have too many financial concerns for toys at the moment. I guess it is back to shopping for manual transmission Imprezas.

  • avatar

    Probably could have got more than $2K for it in Baltimore.  There is a cultural affinity for B-body wagons among the Orthodox Jewish community there.
    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1996-08-18/news/1996231068_1_wagons-orthodox-family-utility-vehicles

  • avatar
    twotone

    It’s the perfect vehicle for a local country western band.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Sell it.
     
    The people who like these cars will pay for them and everyone else—eg, those of us who can put function over ideology and don’t get all misty-eyed over massive-yet-curiously-compromised slabs of iron—will just get a minivan instead (for people) or a pickup truck (for stuff).
     
    Seriously.  If you need the space this thing has, even GM’s own (and thoroughly wretched) U-Bodies are better cars.  Sell it to a good home.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Here in Chicagoland, wagons like these are still popular with self-employed trademen, like painters. They seem to prefer something with good room for people and gear that’s still easily garage-able.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    I want a Roadmaster for my personal fleet. I became addicted to Autotrader while stalking the 2002 Camaro SS I bought a couple of months ago. Now I’m stalking Roadmasters. I figure that my daughter will turn 16 in about 5 years and my wife will get tired of loaning out her minivan within a few weeks after she gets the license. A “beater” will be called for and these old Roadmasters are perfect. They aren’t worth hardly anything, even with under 100K miles that have literally been put on the car by some little old lady who only drove it to church on Sunday.

    They’re as big as a house, which works on two levels. First of all it will be safe(ish) for my kid to drive. Secondly, it will get comparitively lousy gas mileage, so she won’t be able to afford to drive it very much.  She will hate it, and probably drive it very rarely. When we send her off to college in a Civic or and Elantra two years later, I can rip out the LT1 for an LSX, build the ultimate sleeper, and go hunting Mustangs.   

  • avatar
    alex_rashev

    I just bought one two weeks ago. ’94. Tow package, positraction, great shape, the whole deal.

    Most. Awesome. Highway. Cruiser. Ever.

    Wife loves it, by the way.

    Seems like a lot of people just don’t get it, but those who do are in love from day 1.

    I always liked the woody sides. Epitome of humiliation my ass, the epitome of humiliation is paying 30K for that stupid Highlander and getting dusted by a woody-sided grandma station wagon with 8 people in it.

    I got 14mpg on my first tank, flooring it light-to-light and doing 120+mph highway runs. My second (much more conservative) tank already gave me more miles than the first one and it’s only half-done. I’m looking forward to 20+ mpg on this one. Despite 10.5 compression, it eats regular gas.

    While the iron-head LT1 is not a big performer in stock form (relatively speaking), the heads actually flow better than Corvette heads, and the overall engine responds VERY well to modifications and boost. At the same time, it’s very durable and can easily survive abuse and overheating.

    Tow Package Roadmasters are rated to tow 5000lb, which is, ironically, the same as the much-lauded V6 Highlander.

    I can’t believe people were buying Explorers when they had THIS available. A genuine factory Q-ship with incredible versatility and pretty low cost, both initial and ongoing.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @alex: “Epitome of humiliation my ass, the epitome of humiliation is paying 30K for that stupid Highlander and getting dusted by a woody-sided grandma station wagon with 8 people in it.”
       
      Thanks, I needed that. That was the funniest thing I’ve read all day…

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Steven writes: “It’s one of my favorite cars. Don’t ask me why.”

    I have a theory — because it looks like this:

    http://www.dognews.com/pedigreegallery/working/images/Bernese%20Mtn.%20Dog.jpg

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    I will check in as another fan of these cars.  I am not the biggest GM guy in the world, but I always liked these.  I had a nice one offered to me back around 1999 or so, but the guy wanted too much for it and it wasn’t that much nicer than my 84 Olds 98. 

    Maybe one of these times I will come across a silver-haired person who finally bought a new Lacrosse and then I will get my last big land barge.  My wife will hate me for it.  But I will be a hero to my teenagers (although they will never get to drive it if it has the good engine).

  • avatar
    mikey

    I bought one from the GM staff fleet in 95 for my brother. The Buick had to stay in my name for six months. My brother hated it, so we sold to his buddy for a slight loss. His friend has it oil sprayed every year. 15 Ontario winters and it still looks and runs great.

     At 1.09 a litre {4.06 USD a gallon} an old Buick like that would be a hard sell here.

  • avatar
    GAC

    I had my father-in-laws 94 for about six months and grew to love it. treated it like a pickup and hauled everything. with the back seat down it will carry a 4×8 piece of plywood. Cleaned up it was the most comfortable highway cruiser I ever had. Biggest problem- the damn rubber strips on the side kept drooping off. For a car that size I was amazed at how good the gas mileage was. Wish I had an excuse to get another one.

  • avatar

    With the Caprice SS wheels, I would have liked to had that car. :(

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    Gas is “cheap” around here ($3.00/gallon, not bad compared to $4.75!). You’d have no problem selling that around here to any number of people. The one lot owner has kept a few of them for himself. Panthers and B-bodies alike sell good around here when they’re not horribly overpriced at a buy-here-pay-here. Cop cars are especially wanted and wind up serving as daily drivers for years, as the few local Taxi companies have switched to Toyotas.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    anyone know what the stock 0-60 and 1/4 mile times for these wagons were?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      1/4 mile was between 15 n 16 sec when tested by Car and Driver (LT1 Roadmaster) and they dressed up one of their staffers as the “Little Old Lady from Pasadena.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    With the big old wagons from the 60’s and 70’s you could haul couches, stoves, refrigerators and such. I hauled my fridge a couple of times when I moved with my parent’s 75 ford wagon.
    Since the window went inside the tailgate I just sat the fridge on it, wrapped a rope around it and tied the ends to the seatbelt anchors.
    I also moved a stove and fridge both at once with it one time, I laid the stove on it’s back and slid it inside the back, and put the fridge on the tailgate. Station wagons were a big reason a lot of people didn’t own trucks back then.

  • avatar
    Mike C.

    I’d rather have one of these than a minivan.  Much cooler in my opinion.

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    Pic appears to be of this one – 

    Belongs to a young dude too…

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A few points of clarity…
    The vehicle I sold was actually a  Roadmaster sedan in green.
    The wagons in clean condition like the one pictured have a stiff price premium at the auctions. They have become fashionable. Between the old school enthusiasts and those who have a more utilitarian goal in mind, they reach close to double what they did just a few years ago.
    The one in the link below was a church wagon from Tennessee. Bought it for $1100 and Frank Williams almost had to pry it off my cold dead hands.
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/03/steven-lang-gets-a-woody/

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A 95 with 100k on the clock would be very low mileage.
    I would have to take into account the climate and the related condition. Northern states would usually have a Roadmaster that is a bit more beaten up in terms of the suspension. Temperate climates would have more interior wear and laminate related issues as well as paint fade.
    I would expect a top notch wagon in clean condition with that mileage would go for at least $4000. Even more if it had service records and a few well chosen aftermarket modifications.
    Most in that mileage area would be around $2800 to $3500. The geography and demographics of the area you live in have a lot to do with the selling price as well.
    ….
    The cheap Roadmasters are the sedans. Get one in an off color and even the most prime of examples would have trouble cresting the $2500 level in many markets. It’s a four door version of the last gen Cougar and Thunderbird as it applies to demand. Nobody wants em’ unless you can create the right associations.
     

  • avatar
    geozinger

    A coworker used to buy these things all of the time. He had one after another, about four in all. He got rid of the last one a couple of summers ago when gasoline prices in Michigan shot up to $4.25/gallon. He bought a 2003 Taurus wagon instead. Now he spends money fixing the Taurus wagon, wishes he could buy another Roadmaster. But all of the really good ones around here have been snapped up.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    Even though the Roadmaster wagon had to make do with the Caprice front end with a waterfall grille, I think it looks better than the blocky front end on the sedans.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I bought a ’92 white Roadmaster wagon in good shape with 140k for $100 back in October.  This may be the single best vehicle purchase I’ve ever made, and I’ve bought a lot of cars.  I’m sure I could sell it tomorrow for at least double that.
     
    $150 for brake hoses, shocks, and an alignment and its runs good as new.  I originally got it as a joke, basically, but it’s come to be my daily driver, road trip car, utility vehicle, and night out friend hauler all in one.  It’s comfortable, practical, tough, and cheap.  What more could you want from a beater?
     
    Over Thanksgiving weekend the beast took an 1,100 mile road trip, getting 24 mpg with the cruise set for 75, and zero problems.  It is a ridiculous and profoundly flawed vehicle, but still has the potential to be a great car.  I’m 27, and my other vehicles are a Miata and a motorcycle.
     
    Until recently I was looking at getting a brand new car rather than driving the Miata everyday, but decided they weren’t worth the cost premium over something like this.  I think you can have more fun with a B-body wagon and money to burn than I can with any 2011 car you care to name.  Way more fun.
     
    And now I’m off to take myself and 7 co-workers out to lunch!

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Truly the last of its breed.  It’s good to know that some people are experiencing it before they exist only as museum pieces. 

      Too many are still of the 60s-era mindset that we must tear everything down and bury everything in the name of “progress”.

      Enjoy.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I can see the display now. 

      “autous-wagonus domesiticus extinction caused by popular indifference and being the primary prey of the Essuvee, whose numbers exploded during the late 1990s.”

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      The SUV also proliferated due to CAFE light truck loopholes.  CAFE is primarily responsible for the death of the large passenger car (wagon and sedan).

      So the U.S. Federal Government would need a shout-out in there too.  But I don’t see that happening.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    While there were many reasons for the demise of the full-size, RWD, big-engine wagon, I suspect that the biggest one was ride height. Drivers of a shorter stature who needed a vehicle with more passenger carrying capacity and were also able to see above traffic in a ‘command height’ vehicle was a key element to the success of the minivan, then SUV.

    Unfortunately, it’s a real PIA for those of us who drive vehicles of a more conventional height.

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