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1996 Roadmaster Wagon


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Going to look at/pick up a '96 Roadmaster Estate Wagon this weekend.

I've wanted for for a long time and finally found a nice one at the right price.

Wagon has tow package and appears to be pretty loaded.

Auto-leveling has been disconnected and air shocks installed.

I've never owned one before....anything specific I should check out before handing over the cash?

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Not much you can do about it, but the black rub strips that are glued to the polished aluminum mouldings along both sides of the car ALWAYS become unglued and fall off. The shock absorbers can be kind of expensive to replace if they are worn. Roy Faries can tell you more--he had to do that on his and I think he said replacements were a bit hard to find. Other than that, I don't think there are many mechanical or body issues on these cars.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

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"Auto Leveling" is air shocks which have an on-board air compressor and rear suspension height sensor to operate the air compressor. It could be non-functional as the original air shocks had issues and the owner opted for aftermarket air shocks rather than ACDelco/GM air shocks (with their unique air fittings). Could be non-functional due to an air compressor issues, too. To me, neither of these things would be a deal-breaker, but knowing the history could be good to know.

It seems that the black molding inserts had more "retention issues" than the gray inserts on the later Roadmasters. The gray ones didn't seem to shrink as much as the black ones did. Best alternative is to just remove the inserts for a more uniform look. There might be some 3M trim tape that might be wide enough to use to apply to the stainless moldings to at least maintain "the look" of the original mouldings.

The "Opti-Spark" ignition distributor is mounted on the nose of the crankshaft, with the spark plug wiring "harness" being unique to that system. Now, unlike in the past, several hot rod/aftermarket companies make replacement units . . . and the price seems to have decreased a little, too. NO individual spark plug wires.

VERY nice luxury utility vehicles!

(IF those Roadmaster wagons are so good, why's The Old-Guy on his third one???)

Just some thoughts,


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I was introduced to them 12 years ago when I picked one up for a winter beater. It was a 96 ,had 250K on it, and the trans was not shifting into 3rd. I did the trans, and found they were really good cars. I started looking for a better one, and a friend said he would sell me his, as he was liviing in Florida and the car was in his garage in Flint. This was in the spring of 2003 ,and I told my friend I would buy it when he came up for the BCA meet that summer. This wagon was from Oklahoma and although it had 200K on it ,was a really nice car

Just before the meet ,I was called by another friend that had found a 92 with 60K , so I bought that one and sold the Oklahoma car at the 2003 meet. ( I wish now I kept it for a spare as they are getting scarce )

I drove the first wagon until 2006 and then sold it . My 92 now has 90K on it and although it will probably live as long as I will, I wish I had a spare !!


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Just arrived home. LONG day.

Left Gatlinburg (mini-vacation for the wife and kids was the tradeoff) :) at 6am headed to Charlotte.

Arrived home at 11pm.

Car performed flawlessly, but gave a disappointing 22 mpg on the first tank. Could have been 70mph through all those mountains.

I'll fill up again tomorrow and see if the flatland at 65 provided any better performance.

Car has minor imperfections.

-You can see the chrome plating coming off the plastic on the grill

-a few expected stone chips, one about 1" round that was patched badly

-a small dent on the tailgate

-some light wear on the driver's seat. 1 small rip near the corner and a few heavy cracks. Should last as is for many many miles.

-power antenna doesn't work (should be an easy fix)

-rear wiper doesn't operate.

-cassette player ate the first tape my son put in. I'll either replace the radio or add an FM modulated CD changer.

-Woodgrain in good shape overall, however upper trim is missing most of the woodgrain finish.

All in all, not bad for 130,000 miles and 15 years!


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Mountains (or even hills) can really sap fuel economy! If you were maintaining steady throttle settings up and down the hills, that hurts too, rather than letting the cruise control do its thing (backing out of the throttle sooner on the downslope PLUS "coastdown" fuel economy (to maintain speed) usually equals 99mpg Instant Fuel Economy, which can nicely balance the 6mpg Instant Fuel Economy going up the hill. Keeping steady throttle down the hill and gaining speed doesn't do NEAR that well in comparison as the fuel is not trimmed back nearly as much . . . by watching the trip computer on vehicles which offer Instant Fuel Economy readings and using both driving styles.

Sounds like things are in pretty decent shape! Keep us updated, please.



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I love my 1991 Roadmaster Estate wagon, although it is under-powered with the 305 v8 (1991 was the only year for that engine). The local Buick dealer had the correct rear shocks for the air-ride system. My wife bought some assembled book shelves two weeks ago from a friend. They measured 84" tall and 42" (7' x 3.5') wide. I brought them home safely in the back of the wagon. Just opened the tail gate, put the back seat down, and slid them in. Very nice.

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