By on March 14, 2017

Former B-Body Bubble Lot, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

Nearly eight years ago, I sold my Caprice Classic Estate to a collector who claimed to have several dozen “bubble wagons”. Shortly afterwards, I spotted my purple-and-woodgrain Chevy in a storage lot; I called the lot Eclectic Bubbleland. This past weekend I drove by the lot for the first time in a year or two, on the way back from Sunday brunch. To my surprise, all the bubbles were gone. In fact, the place was nearly empty. Only a two-tone quad-lamp Eldorado remained.

Where have all the bubbles gone?

I spent most of yesterday scouring all the usual-suspect sites for an unusual influx of wagons for sale. Then I looked through eBay for suspicious accumulations of lightly used bubble parts. I looked through a half-dozen Facebook groups devoted to Roadmasters, bubble wagons, and B-bodies in general. I called the number that contacted me back in 2009 to buy my Caprice Estate and got a solid dose of “new phone who dis?” The trail appears to have gone cold.

Yet not a pebble falls into the water without a ripple touching the shore, so I’m asking for the Best & Brightest to swing into action here the way that a father/son combo working the gas station helped Buckaroo Banzai escape from John Bigboote way back in the day. If the Bubble Brothers truly owned 80-plus B-body station wagons, then that’s more than 200 tons of metal. Somebody’s seen something.

In a perfect world, we would find the wagons and I would finally be able to convince the current owners of the hoard to sell me a mint-condition OldsmoBubble Custom Cruiser Wagon in a nice light blue or bright white. Then I’d get it over to the Boost Brothers in North Carolina for a 400-horsepower LS transplant. Then, in the words of the old Stax standard, every day will be like a holiday. A Holiday 88, that is.

B&B, you’ve been deputized. We’re on the lookout for 80 wagons. Traveling under cover of darkness or obscurity. Let’s do this.

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50 Comments on “Where Are the Bubbles of Yesteryear?...”


  • avatar

    Too bad you don’t have the VIN written down, a quick CarFax or AutoCheck report could solve this mystery pretty shortly.

  • avatar
    whynot

    They were sold to individuals in the *ahem*..low income neighborhood who has since used them up and replaced them with 9th gen Impalas, Crown Vics, or older Chargers.

    Sorry.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    The other day I presented Chris Tonn with a bright white Custom Cruiser on perfect wheel discs in mint condition – for $3500 and he didn’t buy it!

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B38ULhHiIa2IYjNndjdDc3NKcjQ/view?usp=sharing

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The rare bubble Custom Cruiser is on my short list of dream cars. I would have left no option box left unchecked during that very short production run.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    A couple of clean Southern-ish (Louisville KY area) cars:

    Clean but massively overpriced Custom Cruiser on neat styled steel wheels:
    evansville.craigslist.org/ctd/6023389949.html
    LT1 Roadmaster Wagon SPECIAL EDITION :DDD looking for trades, no price:
    louisville.craigslist.org/cto/6017003573.html

    I’d lowball the sh*t out of both of those and see where that got me.

    Asking a bunch of internet car nerds to go vicariously car shop is a powerful tool Jack, you’ve unleashed weapons-grade autism.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The wheels on that first one are from an early 2WD GMT400 truck.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I knew they looked awfully familiar! I gotta say, I think that’s a really cool look on the wagon. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s at least $4k overpriced IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Decent looking Caprice wagon with Impala SS wheels at a used car lot in Dayton for $4700 (again, very overpriced IMO):
      dayton.craigslist.org/cto/6030013621.html

      Box-caprice wagon with supposedly 30k on odometer (do these have 5 or 6 digits), but a filthy interior and looks like some body issues too. Namely the obligatory filler panels near the bumpers, but also a pretty big dent by pass. side taillight:
      muncie.craigslist.org/cto/6029572004.html

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Box B’s mostly used five digit odometers, only way to tell the real miles is if the car has documentation.

        I am curious, what’s a good B-Body price to you? I don’t get the steep pricing I’ve been seeing (must be why donks on rental rims are less common).

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Oh baby.

      http://www.frankmanmotors.com/Used-1989-Buick-LeSabre-Estate-Wagon-Sioux-Falls/vd/41611387

  • avatar
    Funky

    Just a thought…perhaps the individual was purchasing these for export (en-masse) to a country in which these are popular and worth a healthy profit when sold.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Unfortunately, I think it’s at least possible that the “collector” is now deceased and his family had to liquidate the bubbles. They could well have been sold to a scrapyard in a single big “come get rid of these things” transaction.

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      Dal20402 – you spew vile thoughts of treason. Thou shall not defile the dreams and religious views of those of the Church of the B Body. All hail the BOF full size GM B Body!

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Well, they are better than Panthers.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          How so? Other than higher trim B-bodys being quicker.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            They drive better IMO, they’re a bit better packaged, and the interior quality is a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10 while the Panther’s is a zero.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            For comparison, what car has a 10 interior or at least close?

            I’ve never driven a B-body myself admittedly, came close to buying a few though.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            A current Mercedes S Class or Audi A8.

            I’d put the cars I’ve owned here on the same scale:

            2008 LS460 – 9
            1995 Acura Legend – 7
            2004 TSX – 6
            1988 Accord – 6
            2016 C-Max – 5
            2009 G8 GXP – 4
            2006 Civic – 4
            1989 Taurus SHO -2

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’m afraid you may be correct that they may have been liquidated due to death or health. Hopefully the family just didn’t call up the scrapper and at least the better examples found homes instead of becoming a dishwasher.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      My aunt left a restored Ford LTD and a 1990 Town Car to her daughter. She had her son haul them to be crushed, knowing how much I would have loved to have one of her old cars. Neither was a car I’d seek out to buy. Its just because they were hers and she cared so much about them.

      People are stupid.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I believe all those cars were sent straight to the crusher. A well-deserved fate that should have happened many years sooner!

    Personally, I’m glad all the beached whale-mobiles are gone. A travesty of design any way you looked at them.

    For me, the only beached whale-mobile that had any remote appeal to me was the Buick Roadmaster sedan.

  • avatar
    Tandoor

    If your going to get into another B-body, invest in about 700 of those crappy push-in studs GM used to hold the door panels on. And buy lots of epoxy to glue together the plastic that broke off where the metal clips used to be. And when you’re done, the interior will still be crap and you’re only 2-3 years from doing it all again. And if the newest B-body car were only 7-8 years old (and not 20), I’d probably still be driving one.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    I’d assume, like most all other “bubbles”, they were sold, turned into donks, repossessed by shady buy-here-pay-here lots, and subsequently junked.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    There’s almost always a few bubble wagons on the Richmond, VA craigslist. There’s a clean 96 Roadmaster Estate for $3800 posted a few days ago.

    https://richmond.craigslist.org/cto/6017433041.html

    There’s a Caprice wagon with a faux-SS treatment and carbed (!) LT1 for $8500 I won’t post a link to, but it’s been listed for ages.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    A neighbor of mine had two bubble wagons in his driveway for many years. Then a couple years ago one disappeared, and I haven’t really looked for a while. I’ll have to swing by and see if one still survives.

  • avatar
    Jimmy7

    10 years ago it took me months to sell my ’91 Custom Cruiser for $3500. The guy that bought it was already in his 70s. I’m guessing that they all became hand-me-down cars and got trashed.

  • avatar
    NotFast

    Has anyone (Jack?) called the phone number on the fence sign in that pic? I’m not familiar with the area codes in your neck of America and won’t try searching for its owner.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Yuck, an Oldsmobubble Cruiser in white?! Like driving a refrigerator.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    Oddly enough, I’d been scouring the central OH area for a Roadmaster wagon, pref with the LT1 and heated seats. I haven’t found but a small handful and most of them are pretty shagged out. Where’d they all go? Probably to the crusher given the examples on Craigslist. None near here on Autotrader either. Unpopular unloved, future classic that nobody cared to preserve. I don’t see this as anything new.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The B-bodys were eligible under “Cash 4 Clunkers” – I fear many were sacrificed during that time. I do recall at least one eBay listing at that time that featured a fairly nice Custom Cruiser which basically was listed as “First $4500 gets it or I send it to the crusher”.

      (Sheds a silent tear.)

      • 0 avatar
        John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

        I love those a-holes.

        Give me way more than its worth or I’ll crush it for pennys just to spite you!

        Almost as good as the price being good TODAY ONLY, because if somebody won’t pay $5000 now, they’re surely going to pay $6000 later.

  • avatar
    Boff

    He was saving them up to give to gay Martians, Stuart. I swear to God!!!

  • avatar
    omer333

    Sorry Jack, I have yet to join up with any Blue Blazer Irregulars in the greater-San Diego area.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Midwest Auto Collection in Illinois was dealing some pristene examples of the Roadmaster Estate for some time, but I don’t see any models in their online inventory at this time.

    They wanted way too much for them, but there’s a sucker born every day (and I suppose a good portion of them live within driving distance of MAC.)

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    91-96 B-bodies were almost all around superior to the 92-02 Panthers, but I have to give it to Ford with the 03-11 Panthers, better ride, better driving, better handling, better interiors, they really did step it up a notch…only a decade late. And if I had to guess where those 45 went, probably the crusher like the rest when steel prices were skyhigh

    • 0 avatar
      armadamaster

      Meanwhile, in your neck of the woods:

      https://columbus.craigslist.org/cto/6008717003.html

      https://dayton.craigslist.org/cto/6030013621.html

      https://dayton.craigslist.org/cto/6032575774.html

      https://columbus.craigslist.org/cto/6024597428.html

      https://columbus.craigslist.org/cto/6003281395.html

      https://columbus.craigslist.org/cto/6018143954.html

  • avatar
    John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

    https://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/6056519232.html

    https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/mld/cto/6007895497.html

    https://austin.craigslist.org/cto/6001929723.html

    In order of decent to not really decent.

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