The holiday season reminds us of more traditional conveyances than those nondescript ride share vehicles that portend a very bland future. It wasn’t long ago that a real station wagon — with fake wood, a vista dome roof window, rear wheel drive and V8 power– bearing a hallowed name from Buick history — roamed these realms. Roadmaster was just that! Next to a reindeer powered sleigh it’s the best thing for holiday hauling.
As with anything precious and rare, they are both cherished and collectible these days when the norm is a crossover SUV that is neither sporty nor, particularly utilitarian. The breathtakingly bulbous Roadmaster Estate wagon was offered from 1991 – 1996. Its launch at the dawn of the Clinton era, represented the end of the age of body-on-frame full-size wagons equipped with third row “way back” seating. They were the very last gasp of The Family Truckster paradigm that is so sorely missed.
There is, literally, so much to love about these bloated anachronisms and they truly deserve to be celebrated. They’re huge and a bit ungainly but elegant in their own awkward way. They’re like lovable cartoon woolly mammoths but instead of bristles of hair they sport flanks coated with contact paper-style wood grain.
The last generation Roadmaster Estate was the ultimate iteration of the full size Buick wagon and was preceded by the similarly faux fir-clad Electra Estate Wagon of the ’70s and ’80s. We found two excellent examples of these grandes dames of swanky hauling. The yellow one is, we’re guessing, a ’79 and we’re totally digging those “ventiports” on the fenders, a real throwback to Buick’s glory day of ’50s excess. It’s plausible that its designers were dyed-in-the-wood Happy Days fans.
Even this blue one, maybe an ’88 or ’89, parked on a street in Brookline MA sporting rocker panel rot has a certain bearing that commands at least a modicum of respect, if not reverence.
On a somewhat smaller scale is the Buick Century Estate wagon that was also sheathed in the finest of plastic veneer. We think this white one, an ’88 or ’89, is pretty neat, especially the fact that it’s equipped with an above lift gate crud deflector. These front wheel drive mid-size contenders were typically V6 powered and quite durable. They’re well proportioned and handsome in the modest way of a fallen aristrocrat.
Those last Roadmaster wagons were cavernous. With the second and third row of seats folded down they’re like streamlined pick-up trucks without the country music cliches. High class haulin’, indeed!
Over the years we’ve become big fans of the Roadmaster Estate. This final edition ’96 Collectors Edition is as good as it gets. Seeing something like this truly makes one ask oneself the eternal question: “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?” The answer is an emphatic ‘yes’ if the Buick in question is a Roadmaster wagon. Big Love!
This 1992 commercial for the Roadmaster Estate highlights the car’s attributes. recollecting when “comfort was kind” and “luxury meant something.”
You’d have to be certifiable if you don’t seriously consider the purchase of this ’91 Roadmaster Estate with only 16,320 miles on the clock offered in nearby Milbank, SD for a mere $17,500. It’s the buy of the, ahem, Century but that much better because it’s a Roadmaster.
If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us: info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.
Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes. If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.