Sunday 23 July 2017
The Roadmaster is an automobile that was built by Buick from 1936 to 1958, and again from 1991 to 1996. Roadmasters produced between 1936 and 1958 were built on Buick's longest non-limousine wheelbase and shared their basic structure with entry-level Cadillac and, after 1940, senior Oldsmobiles. Between 1946 and 1957 the Roadmaster served as Buick's flagship, and when it was resurrected for the 1991 through 1996 model years it was the marque's largest vehicle.
The Roadmaster name returned to the Buick line for the 1991 model year after a 33-year absence, with the third generation Buick Estate wagon becoming the Roadmaster Estate. A four-door sedan was added to the Roadmaster line for the 1992 model year, the first rear-wheel drive Buick sedan since 1985. Combined sales showed an over tenfold increase over '91 thanks in part to an extended production run which had 1992 models going on sale in March 1991.
As with its precursor, the new Roadmaster Estate wagon was based on GM's full-size rear-wheel drive B platform, which was closely related to the GM C-body and D-body chassis reserved for top of the line Buicks and Cadillacs. It rode on the same 115.9-inch wheelbase in use since the wagon series was downsized from the C-body in 1977, yet was three inches shorter than the 1990 model.
The Roadmaster sedan, a C-body vehicle over its eight previous generations, shared the B-body for the first time in its history. Nonetheless, it stood not only as the largest Buick, a full 10" longer with a 5" greater wheelbase than the ostensible top-of-the-line C-bodied Buick Park Avenue, but larger both in wheelbase (2") and overall length (6") than the K-bodied Cadillac Sedan de Ville.
The standard engine for the 1991 wagon was a 170hp 5.0L small-block L03 V8. It was replaced a year later with a 180hp 5.7L small-block L05 V8 shared by both wagon and sedan. In 1994 both received a modified version of the advanced 5.7L sequential point fuel-injection LT1 V8, increasing output to 260hp and upping performance substantially.
Derived from the 300hp LT1 debuted in the 1992 Chevrolet Corvette, the Roadmaster version was shared both with other B-and D platform luxury and performance cars such as the Chevrolet Caprice Police Package and Cadillac Fleetwood and GM's specialty F-bodied Chevrolet Camaro Z28 and Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. It differed in the use of iron heads for durability, camshafts tuned for increased low-end torque, and intake silencers to decrease drive-by noise (only in engines used in luxury-brand cars).
While installed in part to better comply with emissions and fuel-economy standards, the LT1 V8 not only offered an 80hp power increase but raised rated fuel economy by 1 mpg, to 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway. As a result of this significantly boosted engine output General Motors limited the softer-riding Roadmaster (which ran on lower lower speed-rated tires than used on the Corvette) to a top speed of 108 mph. For 1996, the LT1 became OBD-II compliant.
All three V-8s were paired to a 4-speed automatic transmission. In 1994, the hydraulically-controlled 4L60 (700R4) transmission was replaced by the electronically-controlled 4L60E.
When ordered with the factory towing package, the 1994-1996 Roadmaster was rated to tow up to 5000 pounds. For the station wagon, this could be raised to 7000 pounds with the use of a weight-distributing hitch, dual sway controls, setting rear tire pressure to 35 PSI, and disabling the Electronic Level Control. The towing package added 2.93 rear-axle gears and a limited slip differential, heavy duty cooling system including oil and transmission coolers, and a factory installed self leveling rear suspension consisting of air shocks, a height sensor between the rear axle and body and an on-board air compressor. Most visibly, a pair of electric fans offset to the left under the hood was replaced by the combination of one conventional fan driven mechanically from the engine alongside one electric fan.
The Roadmaster Estate wagon shared its body with the Caprice Estate and Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser; common styling features included the Caprice's headlights and the Custom Cruiser's 2nd-row "Vista Roof" with sunroof. Simulated woodgrain sides were standard, though the treatment could be deleted for credit. All three wagons offered an optional rear-facing third-row seat, bringing seating capacity to eight.
The Roadmaster sedan had a distinct fascia, featuring its own grille and headlights stacked above running lights and blinkers. It shared a formal sedan roofline with the Cadillac Fleetwood, but rode on a wheelbase nearly six inches shorter.
Interiors received a redesign for the 1994 model year. New dual airbags moved some instrument panel gauges closer to the steering wheel, at the expense of the tachometer; radio and climate controls were also revised.
Folding sideview mirrors moved forward from their previous location in 1995-96. The '95 Roadmaster retained its skirted rear wheels (deleted from the Caprice/Impala SS), while the sedan was updated with new bodyside moldings. Station wagons saw a shade for the Vista Roof along with a cargo cover. In 1996 automatic climate control became standard, and the rear seatbelts were redesigned with a "cinching" feature.
- engine: V8
- capacity: 5700 cc
- horsepower: 180 HP
- gearbox: 5+1
- top speed: 170 km/h