While it may look like your grandmother’s car now, there was one point in time when the Roadmaster was Buick’s flagship vehicle. From early styling throughout the 40s and 50s to a strange resurgence in the 90s, the Roadmaster has just about as strange a history as its look.
A Brief History of the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon
The first Roadmaster hit the ground running in 1936. The idea was to build a long, non-limousine vehicle that could compete with the entry-level Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles of the time. It was the first time that Buick began using names for its car models.
Features of a Future Classic Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon
The last release of the Buick Roadmaster was in 1996. The company squared off the body of the car and equipped it with high-quality features such as four-speed automatic transmission, air-conditioning, and V-8 engines. There were options for the four-door sedan model or the five-door station wagon model.
A Timeline of the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon
- First Generation Buick Roadmaster (1936-1937)
The first generation Buick Roadmaster utilized a straight-eight engine with 120 horsepower. Some of the top features included deluxe upholstery, a cigar lighter, and a fender-mounted spare tire for looks.
- Second Generation Buick Roadmaster (1938-1939)
The second generation featured a longer hood with a nearly vertical grille. The engine had a major change with the 320 cu in Fireball I8.
- Third Generation Buick Roadmaster (1940-1941)
In 1941, the new Roadmaster featured a torpedo C-body similar to the Cadillac Series 62. The compression ratio was raised and the engine was changed to deliver 165 horsepower.
- Fourth Generation Buick Roadmaster (1942-1948)
The fourth generation Roadmaster was far roomier than the previous generation, with a longer wheelbase and a new vertical bar grille. The biggest change was the Dynaflow technology, which was the first car torque converter transmission in a passenger car.
- Fifth Generation Buick Roadmaster (1949-1953)
In 1949, Buick added a two-piece curved glass windshield and VentiPorts on the front fenders. By 1953, they had introduced a twin-turbine Dynaflow as an alternative to the V-8.
- Sixth Generation Buick Roadmaster (1954-1956)
The sixth generation featured a “ponton” appearance with Dagmar bumpers and extra interior space. By 1956, they added a padded dash and a 4-door Riviera hardtop edition.
- Seventh Generation Buick Roadmaster (1957-1958)
In 1957, the roadmaster was equipped with a panoramic windshield using reverse slanted pillars. At the end of the era, a new drawer pull grille was added, as well as new brakes and a 300 horsepower engine.
- Eighth Generation Buick Roadmaster (1991-1996)
After 33 years, the eighth generation Roadmaster was brought back on a rear-wheel drive B platform. It featured a standard 170 horsepower 5.7L engine.
The Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon in the News
In recent Roadmaster news, the Roadmaster, as well as a slew of other cars, toured Bentonville as the custom cars of the Hot Wheels legends. The Roadmaster was adorned with Mad Max-like skulls and oil drums. See more of the tour below!
Celebrity Endorsements of the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon
Best Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon Groups
While there aren’t any major Roadmaster clubs that we have been able to stumble upon, the Buick Club of America is an excellent place to start if you are looking for like-minded Buick enthusiasts.
The Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon – Not Your Dad’s Wagon
After serving generations of drivers, we now hope that the Roadmaster rests in peace. This one-of-a-kind classic was the face of the Buick brand for a while and now lives on through enthusiast restoration and classic car shows.