Last Big American Wagon: 1996 Buick Roadmaster Estate

The Buick Roadmaster name was in use from 1936 to 1958, as one of GM’s top offerings. It was discontinued for 33 years, then revived in 1991. The 9th and final generation of Roadmaster was produced from 1991 to 1996, and this final year wagon has the honor of carrying the famous name for perhaps the last time. It’s currently for sale here on eBay in La Habra, California. Bidding at time of writing is just over $4,000.

Offered in both sedan and wagon form, this generation of Roadmaster was built on GM’s B-body platform, easily identifiable by the bubble-like, rounded shape. The Roadmaster was really the last large American wagon, the end of a long era brought about in large part due to the increasing popularity of vans and SUVs as the road-trip vehicles of choice. This wagon is just over 18 feet long, from the front bumper to the huge rear bumper.

The exterior of this Buick looks great. The white paint seems clean and free of any major defects, with only a couple minor scuffs around the bumpers. Usually these wagons are seen with the faux wood trim, but this one looks especially clean without it.  The brightwork is shiny, and even all the black trim looks to have avoided excessive sun fading in most places other than the roof rack bars. Take a look at the rest of the roof while you’re at it – it’s got a bit of a throwback sunroof going on, reminiscent of an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser!

The interior looks especially comfortable with plush leather seats that remind me of an armchair. I do think that the photos make the interior look better than it actually is. In the above photo, it looks almost brand-new, but in some other photos you can see some wear on the dash, steering wheel, and driver’s seat. Nothing major that would stop someone from buying the car, but still something to be aware of. One of the best parts of the interior of these big wagons is the rear-facing 3rd row seat, providing room to haul 8 people. I had a friend in grade school whose mom had one, and when we rode in it we always wanted to sit in the back so we could see everything going on behind the car. That’s a fun way to take a road trip!

The engine could use a detailing, but otherwise nothing looks out of place. The seller says it runs well, and with only 82,000 miles that is probably true. It’s equipped with one of the most popular engine choices of all time – the 5.7 liter (350 cubic inch) small block. In 1994, 1995, and 1996 Roadmaster wagons, these pushed out 260 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, which launched this 4,700 lb car to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds. Apparently Buick limited these cars to 108 miles per hour, but its safe to assume they could have gone quick a bit faster. When properly equipped, these Buicks could also tow 5,000 lbs. This one seems to have been very well-maintained with only a couple very minor cosmetic items to address. Still, I think it’s a 9/10. Who’s ready to take this on a trip?


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  1. Ricardo Ventura

    Beautiful car. It is the portrait of the American family.

    Like 2
  2. Bill Hall

    Much nicer than the New Buick SUVs advertised on the tube full of semi useful electronic gimmicks that will cause headaches and not be around as long as the wagon

    Like 3
  3. Claudio

    We just purchased an rv
    Box truck gmc 3500 and it measures 21 feet

    This boatmaster is only a few feet lese

    Small rv , big station wagon !

    Never liked these but they are very slowly growing on me …

  4. Stan

    Love these.

    Ditch the hwy rear gear ⚙ and drop in a decent 3.55 or 3.73 and burnout down the road…

    Like 1
  5. jwzg

    No need to be sexist. FWIW, Jim Hackett put Ford out of the car biz, and the trio of Gerstenberg, Murphy, and Smith basically tanked GM in the decades of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

    Like 1
  6. CCFisher

    Idiot woman, huh? Exactly which $100+ billion/year multi-national corporation have you run more successfully?

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