Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon
This is my 1993 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon. I've always liked how these cars looked, and wanted one since the late 90's. I wound up with this one sort of by accident. Back in '98 I bought a Dodge Durango, which I really liked. I put a lot of miles on it when I was commuting to Raleigh, NC for a contracting gig. My German Shepherd Dog, Anvil, really enjoyed riding in it (Anvil in front seat). However, as he got to be 11 or so, he had got to the point where he couldn't really jump in any more. I needed something lower, and more old-dog suitable.
This seemed like a good excuse to look for a BREW, so I started cruising eBay and the AutoTrader to see what one went for. Most of the ones I found for sale on eBay were in the $3500 and up range, especially for the 94+ models, which have the 260HP 350 fuel injected engines. The '91-'93 models also have a 350ci, but it's 180HP, and TBI instead of FI. The engines in the '94+ are LT1 engines, the same used in the Corvettes from those years.
After about a week, I saw a '93 on eBay that was going for a fairly low price, and was near the end of the auction. I figured "What the heck..." and threw a $2000 bid on it, fully expecting it to go well past that. The car seemed pretty clean, typical mileage (132930), etc. My only mistake was not fully understanding exactly which models had the LT1 engines and which didn't. I thought this one did. Well, the auction closed, and I had won it... for $1961.79.
Now I had to figure out how to get it from Phoenix, Arizona to Flowery Branch, Georgia. I looked at several options, such as flying out there and driving it back (unknown vehicle on a 2500 mile maiden voyage, not a good idea), driving the Durango out there and towing it back (5000 miles on the Durango, and tow-dollies big enough for a Roadmaster don't exist), paying some kid to drive it back (same problem as #1, plus the risk factor), or having a car carrier company deliver it.
At that time I think gas was running around $2.50 a gallon, and given the Durango got at best 20 MPG, I was looking at $625 in gas, and probably more like $800. If I flew out there, a ticket to anywhere near the Phoenix area was going to be $400+, plus gas in a car that gets maybe 22 MPG. A reputable car carrier company quoted me $600, so I decided that was the way to go. There was a terminal about 7 miles from the guy in Phoenix, and about 50 miles from me. So arrangements were made and the car eventually got here.
Did it compare to how it was presented on eBay? Generally so, although the missing pictures told the story. The front bumper bumpers (vertical rubber blocks) were damaged, and while all the chrome trim was present, the plastic chrome trim (used around the front bumper, for instance) was in sad shape. The paint is in moderate shape, perhaps a little worse than in the images. A/C works well enough, but prone to freezing up sometimes (probably just needs Freon). Other than that, it was pretty much as described. I did find a bunch of broken glass in the spare tire compartment. I think a window must have been shattered and replaced, but there's no sign of any body work having been done.
Anvil found the car quite easy to get into, up until his last couple months. His biggest problem was sliding off the seat, and getting stuck between the back of the front seats and the back seat. I'd have to pull over and help him back up on to the seat. Since it was his car (after all), I had a vanity tag that read 'ANV1L'. Seems 'ANVIL' was taken, so I had to switch to leet speak.
All in all, I've been pretty pleased. I've had it since 2004/04/22, and put 10,000 miles on it. I get 14-15 MPG around town, although I hit 23 MPG on a long interstate cruise one time. I'd really rather have a '96 in cherry condition with the same color scheme. But this one works, and a '96 goes for a lot more than I spent. I've spent a couple dollars on the car, but not too bad (see service log below).
The BREW also makes for a pretty good pick-up truck. Not quite as high a clearance on the cargo gate as the Durango, but you can get a full sheet of 4'x8' plywood (although you can't close the gate). These days, it's mostly used for hauling the trash up to the county dumpster, taking the dogs places, and lately I've been driving it to work for carrying the five of us who work together out to lunch (although with gas at $3.55+ a gallon and a 48 mile round trip to work, that may stop).
A lot of people are surprised I bought a car sight-unseen on eBay. I checked out the dealer, he had good feedback, etc. I felt the car was a little bit mis-represented, but next time around I know what to look for. Overall, it was a pretty good experience. I'm not 100% positive I would have bought it had I known what that shipping cost would realistically be. Including the shipping, the car was going for about what one would have around here. I found very few on the AutoTrader, and none in the southeast area (even on eBay, most tend to be in the New York area, and second to that, Florida). At that time, I didn't know about Craig's List. Now I have some regular searches that run there, and I see a fair number turn up. Doing it again, I'd probably skip eBay and AutoTrader, and stick to Craig's List. In fact, I was looking for a '95 or '96 and met up with 4 sellers, all of whom I rejected.
There's a gallery of more extensive pictures locate here.
- 2015/06/10 - 151xxx
- Replaced right front tire
- 2013/12/03 - 148898
- Replace power steering hose
- Replace air ride leveling compressor
- Tighten exhaust manifold bolts
- 2013/05/09 - 148xxx
- Detailed exterior
- 2013/02/13 - 14xxxx
- Replaced alternator
- 2011/02/12 - 145830
- Replaced tires (Primewell 235/75R15, used)
- 2010/08/31 - 1450??
- Replaced battery cables
- 2010/07/24 - 145062
- Oil Change
- 2010/02/20 - 144620
- Replaced starter (wasn't broken!)
- Serviced battery
- 2009/09/09 - 144292
- Replaced windshield wipers
- Replaced wiper blades
- 2008/03/21 - 142622
- Oil change
- 2008/02/16 - 142368
- Replaced front wheel bearings
- Check front brakes (good)
- Bought wire wheel cover removal tool (then found original...)
- Replace hot air riser pipe
- Seafoam in gas, oil
- Pressure wash engine
- Oil change
- Replaced wiper blades
- Replaced ignition control module
- New tires
- Replaced thermostat
- Obtained owners manual (eBay)
- Replaced damaged trim clips
- Replaced IAC valve
- New shocks
- Additional keyless entry remote
- Transmission serviced
- Replaced upper radiator hose
- Replaced lower radiator hose
- 2004/04/22 - 132930
- Won on eBay