Cheap 1996 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon

When Buick set out to make the largest of large cars, they often called them Roadmasters. The nameplate was a Buick staple from 1936 to 1958 and again in 1991-96 when large rear-wheel-drive cars were on their way out. This Estate Wagon from 1996 has only had three owners but served them faithfully for nearly 150,000 combined miles. It’s generally in good shape but is going to need transmission work. It currently calls Highland Park, California (Los Angeles) home, and is available here on craigslist at the used car price of $2,000. Once again, Pat L. brings a great tip our way!

For the final iteration of the Roadmaster in the ‘90s, it used a variation of the Cadillac’s large B-platform. The cars employed a 5.7-liter V-8 with a four-speed automatic transmission. The engine was rated at a very capable 260 hp, which gave the wagon sufficient giddyap but don’t expect it to burn rubber. Despite the two-ton payload of the car, the gas mileage was decent for the era. GM pulled the plug on the big Buick and its corporate siblings as the SUV market was taking root.

The seller’s 1996 Roadmaster Estate Wagon is from the final year of production. About 23,000 Roadmasters were built that year, with 40% of them being wagons like this one. This wagon has been a daily driver for the past two years and has seen more than its share of road trips. From the photos provided, the body and paint look nice for 24 years. The same goes for the genuine fake woodgrain paneling, a salute to yesteryear. There are no obvious dents, dings, or rust.

There are no pics of the modified LT1 under the hood (can you say Corvette?) but the service history of the car has been well documented. Some of the work done on the wagon thus far includes a new radiator, water pump, distributor, air conditioning compressor, head gaskets, power steering pump, Q2 sensors, spark plugs and wires, brake rotors, shock absorbers, and ball joints. With that being said, the well must have finally run dry as the car now needs some transmission work – it no longer has a reverse. As long as you don’t need to back this tank up, you’re alright!

We can’t see a lot of the interior because the photos are dark or have shadows, but it looks like a comfortable environment to spend hours at a time in. Just like the Cadillac, the Roadmaster was about luxury and appointments. The market considers these vehicles used cars, not collectibles, so a price check will find most of these wagons going for about what the seller is asking. But this still looks like a lot of car for a little bit of money. Even if you have to drop another $1000-1500 on a transmission.

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  1. Marko

    Around here, we call these “Road Monsters”.
    Would make a cool Resto-Mod cruiser.
    Drive and enjoy it.

    Like 3
  2. Jm

    Are there no sedans left?All I see featured are wagons.

    Like 3
    • Jesse Mortensen jesse Staff

      Good question. We haven’t seen a lot but the wagon is the interesting one anyway.

      Like 3
  3. Tony Primo

    Looks like the owner has done a ton of work to make this car more reliable. The transmission must have been the last straw. Someone is going to do well with this car.

    Like 7
    • CJinSD

      The last straw for the current owner, just the start for the next one.

      Like 11
  4. Vin_in_NJ

    Rutledge Wood added an Impala SS bumper cover, repainted it and added aftermarket rims on his tv show Lost in Transmission. Really changed the look of this wagon

    Like 2
    • YourSoundMan


      Re Bumper cover: No wonder it sticks out so far! Should have stayed original.

  5. jerry z

    This wagon would look sweet without the wood paneling. Trans are easy to find and install because car is in great shape otherwise.

    Like 2
    • Stan Marks

      Like the rest of the car, the woody looks good, too.
      IMHO, I wood leave it as is, Jerry.

      Like 2
  6. Al

    I had a 94, with the tow package. Would embarrass f-bodies and fox bodies at the stop light. If it hadn’t been for the fact that most of my driving was suburban with frequent stops and starts, I’d probably still have it, as that 21-22 mpg on the hwy was quite nice, but only got 11-12 for the kind of driving was doing. Note: the LT1 in the Roadmaster was an iron head model with 2 knock sensors based off the Fleetwood, not Corvette. More torque at lower revs. Also had a factory true dual stainless Borla exhaust

  7. 1-MAC

    A lot of car for the money. Should easily go another 100k Comfortable,the 96 has dual exhaust and a much better engine almost quick, and reliable. Nothing like this ever again, sadly.

    Like 5
  8. jokacz

    Weren’t these and the Caddies basically just Caprices?

    Like 1
    • Jcs


      Like 1
      • Gus Fring


        Like 3
  9. JimmyJ

    Caprice wagon is exact same platform
    I owned one

    Like 4
    • Stan Marks

      I doubt if you can compare the ride, between a Caddie & Caprice.

      Also, the Caddie weighs almost 100 Lbs. more & has a wheel base of 121.59 “, compared to the Caprice’s 115.9”
      Just sayin’…..

  10. thomas f

    gone – good ones go fast!

    Like 2
  11. 200mph


    Like 1
  12. Red of the North

    If it wasn’t for a closed border and Covid, I would fly down to LA, fix the tranny and drive this one home to Canada!

    Like 4
  13. Paul R

    Looks like it has the tow package. Out tows many SUVS of today. 5000lb towing capability.
    Also the only survivor of the British Top Gear challenge, they couldn’t kill it.
    I seem to remember Jeremy Clarkson being amazed that it survived.
    They don’t build them like this any more.

  14. David Ulrey

    Someone got a good car at a reasonable price. This never was my completely favorite body style but a wagon wears it well. Great engine also. I’m more of a Ford or Molar person but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I would have enjoyed owning this particular car.

  15. George Mattar

    Darn. Gone. I have a ton of NOS parts for these cars. They are in GM boxes.

    • Jetfire88

      Do you have a list available?

  16. Glenn

    Yes Id like a list also! Enjoy my 94 Roadmonster!!

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