Cadillac Drag: 1996 Buick Roadmaster Wagon

Often dreamed of, rarely seen, here’s a mythical creature come to life—a Cadillac Fleetwood station wagon! What may seem like a simple front clip swap might not be as simple as it seems, but lo and behold, someone’s done it and the results are pretty cool. Are they $11,000 cool, though? That’s the question to ponder as we check out the listing here via East Coast Classic Cars in Lillington, North Carolina—and as we tip the cap to Bill O. for a great find.

The Roadmaster-to-Fleetwood conversion looks pretty seamless, but bear in mind that the Roadmaster wagon rode on GM’s B platform while the Fleetwood was the sole member of the D-body family, which boasted an additional five and a half inches of wheelbase. There’s some speculation (such as can be found here) that the Fleetwood’s front quarter panels are longer between the wheel arch and the door, and have to be cut down to fit the Roadmaster frame. Only those who have done it seem to know for sure, and this ad doesn’t include any information about the build, but it seems like a plausible roadblock. The fiberglass rear fender caps with traditional Cadillac taillights are a neat touch; I do kind of wish the wider rub strip seen on the front bumper had been continued around the rest of the car, and maybe even the chrome rocker panels, too.

Other neat touches abound. The Cadillac and Buick badges have been mashed up with simple but effective results. The front fenders retain their Cadillac turn signal repeaters, and a Cadillac wreath and crest adorn the tailgate to continue the identification all the way around the car.

The conversion extends to the interior as well, with a Fleetwood dash and steering wheel dressing up the place, although the seats and door panels are pure Buick. Overall condition is good enough for a driver, but the digital odometer shows over 200,000 miles; one wonders whether that’s on the donor Cadillac or on this Buick. The less-than-lovely carpets suggest it might be the latter.

Mileage be darned, the ad states that the car “drives out and handles great”—and being a ’96, yes, this is one of the vaunted LT-1 wagons. While not quite as zesty as the 300-horse version used in the Corvette, the 260 HP, 5.7-liter V8 gave these wagons much more spunk—and amazingly, slightly better fuel economy—than the old 350 it replaced in 1994. Roadmaster wagons and Fleetwoods with this engine and a towing package were rated to pull up to 7,000 pounds, too, although there’s no hitch in evidence on this wagon. Imagine being king or queen of the horsey set, using this wagon to pull your horse trailer!

Overall, I’d say the Buick-to-Cadillac transformation is reasonably successful, although not without room for minor improvements. It’s got imposing style, room for eight, and the right powertrain—but there’s also some wear and tear, and the specter of that tall odometer reading. Taking all of that into account, what do you think of the $11,000 ask for this unique wagon?

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Comments

  1. redwagon

    cool conversion, but the ask is high. esp for 200K+ miles.

    what would make it cooler? a 6sp manual transmission conversion.

    of course the colors does not help but it does look good.

    • Mr. TKD

      I did see an ad for a manual-swapped Fleetwood a while back.

  2. angliagt

    Someone went to a lot of work to build this,
    & it shows that.If our three kids were still young,I’d
    consider this – but not at that price w/that milage.

  3. 68custom

    That’s nice but not 11k nice with high mileage.

  4. Coventrycat

    I like it a lot. Maybe not 11k a lot, but I’m feeling cheap tonight.

  5. Mr. TKD

    I did see an ad for a manual-swapped Fleetwood a while back.

  6. Joe Haska

    Very nicely done, I like it allot. Is it worth the money, I really don’t know? Would like to own it HELL YES!

  7. John Mallinak

    I had a ’94 Fleetwood and really thought it was a great car, fast and powerful. This conversion is interesting and might provide an interesting alternative to a minivan.

  8. Frank Riggs

    Wow, nice looking. I would love to park that wagon next to my Escalade just to compare sizes.

  9. BRAKTRCR

    So, is that a 1996 Nash ? Sorry, never cared for that body style, but somebody did some nice work.

  10. Fordguy1972

    200k on the motor and drivetrain is not something I’d gamble on; probably too many mechanicals will need to be replaced at some point soon. $11 grand is too high, that’s for sure. I like wagons, I’m currently driving my 5th but I wouldn’t even consider this one, especially at that price. It is cool though and pretty well done.

    • K5ING

      I have to wonder though… If someone went through the time, trouble, effort, and had the talent to do this conversion, don’t you think they would have gone through the mechanical stuff too? I’m seriously thinking about it.

  11. Luxurious Lexus Land-yacht (Cool Cadillac Cat)

    There was one about six months ago on BaT. I very, very seriously wanted that one, though I’d have to put an automagic back into it. My left leg can work a clutch for short periods, but 10 minutes of traffic, and I’m in tears of pain.

    The really fun hobbies are the ones which can kill you, if you get it wrong. I was extremely lucky.

    https://bringatrailer.com/2017/05/24/brougham-brawler-3836-speed-swapped-1996-cadillac-fleetwood/#comment-1573612

    Unfortunately, while this wagon has the exterior details sorted nicely…bonus points for the Cadillac taillamps…the interior is far from 100%, and even though the B-body is a half-million mile car, at 200K, it’s going to feel loose all over. Nope!

    Find one with under 100K on it, have the entire interior swapped over, and we’ll talk…though it’s still not going to be five digits, unless there is engine work involved.

  12. Mark

    I own 1987 Oldsmobile full size custom cruiser . Perfect American cruiser, comfort and quality. Never any issue with 112000 miles. Driven to Orlando, New Jersey Chicago Kansas Denver Las Vegas
    Still cooking and enjoying using this car.
    Average 19 mpg
    Sweet machine

    1
  13. ACZ

    I definitely would like to have this one. Beautifully done. The one negative……WAY too expensive!

  14. Gphillippe

    As the builder of the car I can tell you the mileage shown is from the Cadillac donner car. The drive train is From the Buick. I have driven many 20 mpg trouble free miles. The wheelbase is 2.5” longer from the front door to the front wheel. The build used all Cadillac or Buick parts.

    • scottymac

      So Gphillippe, how many miles on the drivetrain?

  15. glenn

    I think it would have looked better if the fiberglassed the rear panel into place. the join is horrioble

  16. Steven Visek

    Neat idea. Awkward execution of those rear corners.
    Frankly I’d rather have it as a Buick.

  17. Pete Grave

    Funny job seats are still Buck Dash is Caddie so complete rewiring required in dash and engine. Has Buick Trailer towing package shown by fan set up. Door panels look like modified Buick. And tail lights were a lot of work as the Buick uses Chev,Olds,Buick SW lights and the lights are Cadillac. Lastly the body side molding appears to be modified Cadillac as the narrow chrome is Cadillac but bottom looks like painted over Cadillac stainless as the real Brougham was stainless front to back. why would you paint it an spoil the effect?

  18. JEFF S.

    I owned a 1994 Buick Roadmaster sedan from 2000 to 2007. Cost me $4,000, it had 99,000 miles and I put 109,000 on it delivering newspapers. The bottom end was clanking at start-up by then, not worth repair, too many other systems were showing their age. This one looks nice, but it is not worth the price.

  19. Clay Bryant

    I’ve seen street rods that are almost a copy of their neighbors at a show that go over 50 grand when they sell and you basically have the same car that shows up at the same shows. This is truly a well thought out works and at 11 grand I could drive it for 5 years, sell it for 6 grand and had “fun” answering questions and driving it for a 1,000 dollars a year. And I don’t have to be a “Mandy-Pandy driving it in the rain. Bought one of these when new and you have to drive one to appreciate them. Most people that worry about the 200k on the speedometer are probably used to “hot doggin’ ” their machinery and this is not for them. Maintain the liquids on them and look at 400k….Done it.

    1
    • Gphillippe

      I built the car about seven years ago as a daily driver. Have been back and forth across country several times without a problem. I moved to a retirement community in Sun City West Arizona and have no place to keep the car otherwise I would never be selling it. My wife loves the way it rides on the road. I got more compliments on this car than any I have built.

      1
  20. Pete Grave

    The 200k not an issue you need to know where it was driven here in the North East with the salt frame rot is a BIG issue and it seems to be worse on the wagons. I have a salvage yard we have two Caprice and three Roadmaster wagons all junked due to bad frames. Also know of a six door Cadillac limo undertaker car with rotted frame and 39k miles so its a big worry in the salt belt.I would want to put this one on a lift and look before I plunked any $$$ down

    1
    • Gphillippe

      The car came from South Carolina. The frame was from a1996 Cadillac Fleetwood from the front door forward the rear was the Buick wagon. No rust at all on this car.

      2
  21. Bill Owens BillO Staff

    I was impressed that they didn’t just put the Cadillac grille, hood and fenders on it and stop, but carried it on to the back to make it look like the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham there rather than the Roadmaster wagon. It also makes you wonder at what point in this car’s life the makeover was done; the price to change it compared to its value at the time. Could it be that some parts were taken from a Cadillac hearse of that era?

    • Gphillippe

      The car was built about seven years ago. Parts were from a 1996 Cadillac Fleetwood.

      1
      • Bill Owens BillO Staff

        Thanks for the comments Gphillippe, it’s good to learn more from someone who owned and built the vehicle.

        2
  22. James S.

    I wouldn’t pay $1100 for that gas guzzling monstrosity. That horrible carpet and steering wheel cover. “Showroom Hours”? “Showroom?” Oh, boy. That thing’s probably been on sale for months. It’ll never sell for five figures.

  23. Pete Grave

    Dude you are wrong on the “gas guzzling” its not normal aroun town mileage for these big boats is around 20mpg on the road driven without a lead foot up to 26 mpg is possible except with trailer tow package 24mpg due to axel ratio change. This whole line of cars got amazing miles per gallon for their size. I have a 96 Cadillac six door two years ago I made 150 mile trip in three hours each way and averaged 19mpg going and coming home. Not bad for a 6200 pound tank with the same power train.

  24. Daved N.

    It’s unfortunate that a different colored model was used for such an involved swap. I can only imagine how much more attractive this would look in black, burgundy, carmine red, etc….

  25. Maestro1

    It’s a beautiful job. Well done. I’d examine the car closely and offer less than what Phillippe is asking. If he can put the 200,000 mile issue to rest, then it’s a buy.

  26. Bryce

    Hearsy

  27. Gphillippe

    I would not be afraid to drive it cross country tomorrow! Make me an offer.

    1
  28. BB

    Gphillippe,

    How can I get a hold of you to discuss this car in more detail?

  29. Gphillippe

    Give me a call at 910-612-5552, be happy to talk to you.
    Gary

  30. Ty

    I love the idea of this but I’m not fond of the exterior color or interior color. It would be nice to paint it black on the outside with either grey or burgundy interior reason why I didn’t mention black is because I don’t think the roadmasters had a black interior option and the fleetwoods door panels would not fit

    I also think it would look nice with the chrome bumpers and cladding and wheel skirts for the rear. All of which would need to be customized as this thing is longer. I’d still by it regardless of my thoughts on the color too bad it’s not more affordable for me

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