The Buick Roadmaster was a vehicle produced by General Motors' Buick division. Between 1936 and 1958, Buick carried the Roadmaster name. As a successor for the Buick Estate, Buick reintroduced the Roadmaster nameplate towards its full-size rear-wheel-drive sedan and station wagon vehicles in 1991. The Buick Roadmaster was the company's flagship from 1946 until 1957.
History of Buick Roadmaster
General Motors' Buick branch produced the Roadmaster, a mid-size car. Buick first used the Roadmaster name from 1936 through 1958. After Buick discontinued the Estate in 1991, they renamed their full-size sedan and station wagon models Roadmaster. In 1936 when Buick changed its complete model portfolio to honor the advancements in technology and construction over their 1935 models, they first used the Roadmaster name. When it was time to update Buick's model lineup, they went from Series 40 to Series 60 and then from Series 90 to Series 40 Special and Limited. The Roadmaster was born from Buick's Series 80. They were designed on a longer wheelbase and shared a fundamental structure with the top Oldsmobiles. The Roadmaster was Buick's top-of-the-line vehicle from 1946 and 1957 and was available in sedan, coupe, convertible, and station wagon body styles. The company introduced the Riviera hardtop coupe in 1949 and the Riviera four-door hardtop in 1955. From 1946 to 1964, Iona Manufacturing produced all Buick station wagon bodies. The wagon was next in cost to the Buick Skylark, priced at US$4,031. This year's woodie-bodied wagons were limited to just 670 total units. The Roadmaster was dubbed the Electra in 1959 when Buick released a new product lineup that signified a major shift in its body design. After Buick discontinued the Estate station wagon in 1991, they reintroduced the Roadmaster nameplate for a B-body station wagon. The wagon was referred to as the Roadmaster Estate Wagon by its manufacturer. In 1992, it was joined by a sedan. After redesigning the Cadillac Fleetwood in 1993, it matched both the Roadmaster and Caprice sedans except that it had chrome-plated front and back bumpers and was far more luxurious than the sedans. In 1996, General Motors put an end to the Roadmaster sedan and estate wagon models it had been producing. Compared to Park Avenue, the Roadmaster's trim levels never surpassed those of the smaller but still full-sized Buick LeSabre. GM's Arlington, Texas plant that made RWD cars were modified to make trucks and SUVs in response to the SUV demand. GM's manufacturing of full-size rear-wheel-drive automobiles with rear-wheel drive ended with the Roadmaster Estate and the Chevrolet Caprice Wagon's discontinuation, which marked the end of an era.
Buick sold the 1933 Roadmaster for $1,845 ($40,265 today) and they priced the last production Roadmaster base model for $25,153 ($45,483 today).
In terms of style, the Roadmaster Estate maintained its bodywork with the Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser and the Caprice Estate, which had similar headlamps and the Custom Cruiser's "Vista Roof" with a sunroof for the 2nd row of seats. They finished the sides with replicated wood grain that was standard. However, the finish could be removed for credit if desired. Buick increased the seating capacity from seven to eight in all three wagons by adding a third-row seat. That was a big difference from the older generations. The Roadmaster had headlights that rested atop running lights and signal lights and a unique grille in the front for exterior styling. It had a similar roofline to the Cadillac Fleetwood but a wheelbase nearly six inches shorter than that of the Cadillac Fleetwood. They introduced dual airbags for the model and improved the radio and climate controls to make the interior more user-friendly. In 1995, a redesigned folding version installed on the sail panel replaced the "lollipop" style mirror hung on the door skin. Buick kept rear-wheel skirts on the '95 Roadmaster, but the sedan received a new set of body side moldings. They added shades for the Vista Roof and a cargo cover to station wagons. Climate control and rear seat belt "cinching" were introduced in 1996, when automated climate control became standard.
The 1996 Buick Roadmaster engine delivers 260 hp (194 kW) at 5,000 rpm and 330 lb-ft (448 Nm) at 2,400 rpm for the model's maximum torque. The Roadmaster accelerates from 0 to 60 mph (96 kph) in 8.1 seconds with a curb weight of 4,211 lbs (1,910 kg). Buick sold the Roadmaster as a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) vehicle powered by a 5.7L V8 OHV 16-valve engine.
Buick produced the Roadmaster from different years: 1936 to 1942, 1946 to 1958, 1991 to 1996. When Buick's high-end sedans became saturated, and full-size SUVs began to compete with the Estate wagon, the company decided to discontinue the production of Roadmaster in 1996. Buick built the last one on December 13, 1996.