Junkyard Find: 1993 Buick Roadmaster Limited Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

In 1931, Buick introduced the world to its first big sedan with an eight-cylinder engine (which wasn't a V8 but did have overhead valves) driving the rear wheels. It seemed that such cars would always be available in Buick showrooms, but it turned out that the very last ones were the 1992-1996 Roadmasters. Here's one of those cars, found near Pikes Peak last winter.

junkyard find 1993 buick roadmaster limited sedan

Buick sold new cars with V8s and front-wheel-drive and trucks with V8s and rear-wheel-drive after 1996, of course, but today's Junkyard Find is one of the last of the proper 1931-style eight-cylinder Buick sedans.

The Roadmaster name goes back almost as far as the eight-cylinder Buick itself. The 1936 Series Eighty Roadmaster sedan weighed more than two tons, had 248 cubes of straight-eight power under the hood, and sold for the 2023 equivalent of $27,747.

Buick continued to use the Roadmaster name through 1958. Twenty-nine years later, Buick ceased building new eight-cylinder/rear-wheel-drive sedans ( the 1987 Regal could be had with an optional Olds 307).

The three-model-year period of 1988 through 1991 caused great suffering among Buick shoppers who believed in two things above all else: that a man should drive a big eight-cylinder/rear-wheel-drive Buick sedan and that Herbert Hoover had been far too soft on the Bonus Army in 1932.

For 1991, Chevrolet finally ditched the mid-1970s-vintage design for its full-size sedan, replacing the Box Caprice with the rounded Whale Caprice. Oldsmobile and Buick got their own versions of the Caprice wagon that year: the Custom Cruiser and the Roadmaster Estate.

The Roadmaster name was back, but Buick buyers had to wait until the 1992 model year to get a Roadmaster sedan. Yes, you could get an optional padded landau roof, and this car has one.

Buick and Oldsmobile buyers had long been resigned to getting engines from lesser GM divisions under their hoods by the time this car was new, and it has the same Chevy 350 aka 5.7-liter small-block V8 that went into the Caprice.

This engine made 180 horsepower and 300 pound-feet. The final model year for the Buick V8 in new US-market vehicles was 1980, though you could make the case that the Rover V8 was always a Buick (and that the Buick V6 should be considered a member of the Buick V8 family).

This car's body got thoroughly banged up during its 30 years on the road. The interior is faded but not too nasty for its age.

Just over 100,000 miles on the odometer. Maybe just the last 16,781 were the punishing ones.

The Colorado Springs Police Department found this car parked with expired plates for more than 72 hours in the same spot (probably after a neighbor became incensed by its general hooptiness) and that was the end of the road for this Roadmaster.

The MSRP on a '92 Roadmaster Limited Sedan was $24,920, or about $53,319 in 2023 dollars.

The landau roof added $695 to that cost (about $1,487 after inflation). Because it's a Limited, this AM/FM/cassette radio was included in the sticker price. If you wanted a CD player, the cost was $394 ($843 now).

The 1993 Chevy Caprice LS Sedan had a list price of $19,995 ($42,782 today), but what self-respecting Buick man could downgrade to a proletarait-grade Chevrolet? The Lexus LS400 cost $46,600 ($99,706) that year, making the Roadmaster a lot more rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan per dollar (at least by weight). The $22,609 ($48,375) Mercury Grand Marquis was a more realistic sales rival to the Roadmaster, and its modern SOHC V8 had either 10 or 30 more horses than the Buick's pushrod small-block.

A glorious name for a glorious new automobile.

Luxury on a grand scale. Power increased by 80 horses for 1994.

[Images: The Author]

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2 of 23 comments
  • Dusterdude Dusterdude on Aug 01, 2023

    Agree with comments that styling was not the best on these cars ! … However , I remember visiting a supplier in Chelsea Michigan area around 1994 or 1995 . We went golfing with supplier , and went in his new Roadmaster.

    I found the ride to be very impressive. We were on a rough 2 lane road , went over railway tracks etc but the ride was still very smooth !

  • Anthony Caracausa Anthony Caracausa on Aug 03, 2023

    I always liked the Roadmaster's looks. Although it did look like it could have used a diet, it wore its body fat far, far better than its siblings (Caprice-Impala and Cadillac Fleetwood) ever did. If anything, it had looks which could rival the contemporary Lincolns! Being a fan of Electras myself (and once driver of one, a '79 Limited 2-door), I thought it a very nice nod to the Electra days. Probably the one issue I read about, which I did learn about in the day, was a possibility that some cars of some years would suffer latch failure, causing their hoods to fly up, blind the drivers, shatter windshields, cause crashes, etc. It looks like the dead one here may possibly have been through that during its tumultuous life, among other abuses.

    That said, I have noticed far more still-active Roadmasters on the roads than contemporary Caprices and Fleetwoods combined, which ought to speak volumes about this model from GM's last big-car hurrah. I still like the look of the Roadmaster; and, if improved latches were developed, I would have no reservations adding one to my dream-collection of cars.

  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )
  • Thehyundaigarage Yes, Canadian market vehicles have had immobilizers mandated by transport Canada since around 2001.In the US market, some key start Toyotas and Nissans still don’t have immobilizers. The US doesn’t mandate immobilizers or daytime running lights, but they mandate TPMS, yet canada mandates both, but couldn’t care less about TPMS. You’d think we’d have universal standards in North America.
  • Alan I think this vehicle is aimed more at the dedicated offroad traveller. It costs around the same a 300 Series, so its quite an investment. It would be a waste to own as a daily driver, unless you want to be seen in a 'wank' vehicle like many Wrangler and Can Hardly Davidson types.The diesel would be the choice for off roading as its quite torquey down low and would return far superior mileage than a petrol vehicle.I would think this is more reliable than the Land Rovers, BMW make good engines. https://www.drive.com.au/reviews/2023-ineos-grenadier-review/
  • Lorenzo I'll go with Stellantis. Last into the folly, first to bail out. Their European business won't fly with the German market being squeezed on electricity. Anybody can see the loss of Russian natural gas and closing their nuclear plants means high cost electricity. They're now buying electrons from French nuclear plants, as are the British after shutting down their coal industry. As for the American market, the American grid isn't in great shape either, but the US has shale oil and natural gas. Stellantis has profits from ICE Ram trucks and Jeeps, and they won't give that up.
  • Inside Looking Out Chinese will take over EV market and Tesla will become the richest and largest car company in the world. Forget about Japanese.