This LS3-Powered Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon Is Our BaT Auction Pick
• The Buick Roadmaster is a throwback to a time when huge wagons ruled the roads.
• Thanks to an LS3 V-8 crate engine, this wagon has gone from old-man spec to Grandpa, Destroyer of Tires.
• This auction ends on Sunday, February 19.
Car and Driver
The Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon was born old. When it was introduced in 1991, it was already an anachronism. The sun was setting on these wood-paneled ocean liners on wheels, and this Buick was a body-on-frame relic of family transportation from the days before the advent of the minivan, the popularization of the SUV, and the rise of the modern crossover. And yet, today, these Roadmasters are enjoying a newfound popularity, particularly when done up like this example, up for auction on Bring a Trailer—which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos. This behemoth wagon appears stock, right down to its whitewall tires. It is not. Boy howdy, is it not.
What photographer and Car and Driver contributor James Lipman has created here is an M80 in a Werther’s Original wrapper. Under the aircraft-carrier-sized hood of this white whale is a 6.2-liter LS3 E-Rod Chevrolet crate engine. Matched to an upgraded four-speed automatic transmission, the V-8 was factory rated at 430 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque. If you listen closely, you can hear the standard 205-series 15-inch rear tires whimpering in anticipatory fear.
Turning Roadmaster wagons into hot rods is a whole subculture, one that Car and Driver has previously explored, including this very example. There are certainly wilder builds out there, but Lipman says his dream was to create a Roadmaster than looked factory-spec but packed the power of a crate V-8. The engine upgrade nearly doubles the 260 horsepower of the Roadmaster’s standard LT5 V-8. Upgrading both the motor and a more modern four-speed automatic to handle the extra output was relatively straightforward, as GM cars of this era are fairly modular.
The rest of the wagon is standard-issue, with recliner-soft beige leather inside, a vista roof, and a rear-facing third-row seat. A slightly lowered front suspension is the only clue as to this Buick’s hidden talents—that and the burly exhaust note. There are blemishes here and there throughout, but overall this is a very well-preserved piece of steer-with-one finger American station wagon history. It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting, if old Norman had come up with a piece called Sick Wagon Burnouts.
Having achieved his objective and enjoyed driving this Roadmaster around, Lipman says it’s now time to move on to the next project. At this writing, bidding stands at $22,500. As it sits, this burly Roadmaster needs little other than a new home. But you might want to budget for extra tires.