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Grandpa’s Hot Rod: 1996 Buick Roadmaster LT1

While the hubbub around new-age car shows like Radwood has focused largely on imports and exotica, emerging classics like this 1996 Buick Roadmaster should be included in the same conversation about iconic youngtimers. While the Impala SS tends to get all the glory for its big helpings of righteous brawn, this particular Roadmaster was ordered with the rarely-seen G80 package, which puts it closer to its bad-ass sibling than you might think. Find the Roadmaster here on eBay with a $12,500 Buy-It-Now and the option to submit a best offer.

Now, most us know the Roadmaster did benefit from the 5.7L LT1 engine that to this day remains a revered mill, held in high esteem similar to the likes of the Jeep 4.0L inline-six and Ford’s dutiful 5.0L V8. What some of us likely don’t know (I didn’t) was that you could order a Roadmaster with the G80 package, which added a limited slip and upgraded 2.93 rear end. You have to ask yourself when you see land barges like this with some extra performance dialed in: who was the first owner that wanted their floaty luxo-barge to have a locking rear end to keep the LT1 in check?

Regardless of the history, this Roadmaster stands apart for clearly being treated to a high standard and used sparingly. Mileage is reported to be just 44,000, and the acres of leather inside back up that claim with only light wear noted to the seats. The back seat is in similar condition, if not better, so those grandchildren clearly weren’t allowed to bring their fruit snacks and Capri Sun along for the ride. The seller reports the A/C is ice cold and the power functions all work as intended; the Roadmaster rides comfortably on Dynaride suspension components.

The view out the front makes me squeamish considering how many older folks losing a few inches off their height every few years were still piloting these bad boys around town not too long ago. The seller makes a great point that the Roadmaster allows you to enjoy the performance of the LT1 while getting a respectable 25 MPGs on the highway. The Roadmaster and Caprice of the early 90s were some of the best examples of the breed, offering a healthy blend of options that make them suitable for daily use while reminding us of a bygone era that was fixated on size, power, and comfort to meet the demands of the Greatest Generation of drivers.


  1. Avatar photo William Shields

    Men In Black car and it doesn’t even need the little red button to make it go!

    Like 4
  2. Avatar photo Ralph

    G80 was(might still be)GM the RPO code for a locking rear, never heard it called a “package” it was just an option as far as I recall, the locking rear did come with a better rear ratio with it, you had to get them both.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Brett

      Yeah G80 just denotes a limited slip, if you got a package it would’ve been the “Gran Touring”suspension package which are front and rear sway bars and the self leveling air shocks in the back. A tow package includes the manual fan and electric fan with a posi rear end

      Like 2
  3. Avatar photo NotSure

    I wonder if this was ordered to be a towing vehicle? With the motor and that G80 limited slip with 2.93 gears this was probably just the ticket for tow duty. There might be a tranny cooler tucked under that hood too. It isn’t like you’d choose this Roadmaster to surprise anyone next to you at the light? And in 1996 not all tow vehicles were trucks or large SUVs then. It’s a thought

    Like 15
    • Avatar photo Brett

      No this does not have the optional tow package, I have one of these Roadmasters and if you have a tow package you get a single electric fan offset to the driver side and a clutch/manual driven fan and shroud on the radiator

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Larry Creech

        Cut the body off the floorpan and install a 1956 Chevy body in it. I hear they are a perfect swap and supposedly have the same wheelbase.

        Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Malibu_SS

    The package they’re trying to refer to is the B4U RPO package and this car does NOT have it. It simply is outfitted with the optional G80 limited slip diff and retains the standard 2.56 axle ratio (I decoded the RPO Codes). The B4U trailer prep package is basically an Impala SS-like suspension package with retuned suspension, upgraded cooling (with one electric and one mechanical fan, rather than the standard twin electric), 2.93 Locking diff, and rear air suspension. It also has a different dash emblem stating ‘grand touring suspension’ instead of ‘dynaride.’ The B4U cars are a rare bird and certainly transform the rather bland performance of theses cars into something special.

    Like 2
  5. Avatar photo Kevin A. Campbell

    I have a ’95 Limited. I texted my buddy in Ottawa, Ontario soon as I bought it. Texted back right away to pop the trunk & look for G80 on the RPO sticker. Doesn’t have it. Mine’s a 2.56. Currently over 140,000 miles and love it.

    Like 0
  6. Avatar photo B Body Fan

    G80 did not equal a 2.93 gear ratio.
    It would only be a 2.56 gear ratio.
    The only way to get a 2.93 with a Roadmaster was to get a Tow Package.
    This car does not have a tow Package as it does not have a mechanical fan and it has Dynaride (soft) suspension.
    All tow Package cars had a mechanical fan vs both electric.
    Dynaride, which this car has, was not on a tow package car either. A tow package car would have stiffer springs and a thicker front sway bar and a rear swaybar….both of which were the same as an Impala SS.
    It likely has a extra capacity cooling option (as most Roadmasters did) which did include an external transmission fluid cooler.

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Rock On

    The seller also has it listed on Craigslist with some better pictures.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Bryan Bittner

      Nice plates!

      Like 0
  8. Avatar photo Will Fox

    I’m a “full-size” lover, and a comfy sedan like this with relatively low miles would make a decent commuter car for me. Work downtown & back is about 11-12 mi., and I would want one of these for the ride. Not so old parts are scarce, and still in great shape mechanically, etc. I don’t see this as a ‘collector’ anything, as it was built in far too many numbers, and just doesn’t fall into that category. Heck, I’d take a few longer trips in it, too.

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo Carl Hutchins

    Well, there is another member of that last of the big GM car family.
    The Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. Same as the Road Master. Almost. Different badges. Same all iron LT1.

    My 83 Jaguar XJ is now powered by an LT1 sourced from a demised Cadillac. A great match. Heavy car. plenty of torque at the most prevalent RPM’s.

    Like 3
  10. Avatar photo ACZ

    Well, it doesn’t have a 2.93 diff. If you look at the SPID label shown, it’s equipped with a GM8, which is a 2.56 axle. Yes it is a posi, but it does not have the HD cooling option (V08) which includes an engine driven fan. Nor does it have a trailering package without those items. Trailering option was V92.

    Like 3
  11. Avatar photo Maestro1

    This is probably the Ace Driver. You can’t miss for comfort and
    performance and traffic. Jeff Lavery is right about that time when we had big cars with chops. Someone jump on this car.

    Like 2
  12. Avatar photo JEFF S.

    There are just too many nice cars for 10 to 12 k for sale today, I would have to pass on this one. Since I have owned one before at a 3rd of the price. I will let someone else enjoy this one. Just me and the wife now, I would rather have a V8 Camaro for around the same money.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Brett

    I own a 95 Roadmaster identical interior to this one. Mine however is a silver color. With Gran touring suspension and the tow package. Love this car. Honestly I thought 90s cars were trash until I bought my Roadmaster sedan, soft cloud-like interior, a smooth driving car with ICE COLD AC my seats are way more comfortable than any modern luxury car. If it ever got wrecked I’d buy another. And if something ever happens to the engine well then 6.0 LS swap with a 6speed auto? I might see 32mpgs on this baby!

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo glenn

    Love my 94 Roadmaster wagon with trailer tow package! But I only get about 9 MPG pulling my 32 hundred pound camper, 24 MPG with out. I was hoping for about 15 but I guess the camper really bucks the air. The previous owner did lots of burn outs and now my posi only leaves a right wheel 30 foot burn out!

    Like 0
  15. Avatar photo Carl Hutchins

    No, my “other” car is a 94 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Neat 4wd. Laredo trim package. Well over 200 K on the speedo. Not fast by any means. but, it’s 4.0 straight six is torquey. Still tight, shiny and very reliable. A few bells and whistles to play with as well!!

    OTH, the LT1 in my 83 Jaguar is far more powerful, swapping in new spark plug wires is a major undertaking!!1 I hope the coil wire replacement alone will fix it…

    I do like each of my “survivors”!!! I term the jag as “English elegance with an Italian flair and American power:!!

    New clutch discs for the posi oughta fix that one legged bur out. Not fun, but doable.

    Like 0
  16. Avatar photo hank

    best car I ever owned has comfy seats, smooth ride, great fuel economy and good power

    Like 0

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