COAL: 1994 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon: Dynaride Comfort Leaves The Farm To A New World

When I graduated high school last June, I decided that maybe if the opportunity presented itself I should reward myself for getting out of the hellhole that school had become. I wasn’t happy with the way things had gone recently so I needed something to give me hope, even if for only a short time. The ’64 Chrysler was stuck waiting on some parts while the Oldsmobile was being used as an in-town car due to its higher mileage, with the Grand Marquis was being used as the longer trip car as it got the best highway mileage of the two. But the Mercury was becoming problematic in more ways than one, to the point where I didn’t feel comfortable driving it at all, and neither did my mom,. So the fix was simple: I had to get a replacement that was better.

At first I wasn’t sure what I could replace it with, I had sworn off any foreign cars as every one I had used or sat in had been uncomfortable and underpowered, and it couldn’t be too old as I wanted it to be fully reliable most of the time. But I also didn’t want it to be too new as I figured by the 2000s there would just be too much electronics to deal with. But it had to be big, get decent mileage, have a V8, and be very comfortable. Then I remembered that GMs B-body platform went until 1996. And after seeing a 1991 Caprice at the store, I knew what I should replace the Mercury with, a 1991-1996 GM B-body.

Luckily enough I was still able to find some B-body Caprices, Roadmasters, and even some Cadillacs that weren’t too expensive but still in decent shape. Despite older cars were getting harder to find in decent condition, I had a few decent looking ones on my list, but most of them had just under or over 200k miles on them, which was fine but I wanted one with the lowest miles possible. But one day while I was looking at Facebook marketplace, my mom chimed in with her idea, she said it would be nice to exchange her mom’s car with something that had more room, and then it occurred to me, I already had two sedans, so why not get a station wagon? I had never owned one but had always had a soft spot for them.

I was able to find a few wagons with higher mileage, but luckily I came across one that had only 135k miles on it. It was a white 1994 Roadmaster, it was dirty and slightly damaged, but it had the lowest mileage I had seen so far, and best of all it had the 5.7 LT1. In 1994 they went from throttle body injection to port fuel injection which increased the HP from 180 to 260, the only thing it lacked from the previous year was a full gauge package, but that would be a small price to pay when trading the Grand Marquis for a car that was bigger, had more power, was more comfortable, got better mileage, and had a more classic look to it.

I had kept in mind that the lowest mileage was best, though I had forgotten that low mileage doesn’t always mean well preserved or taken care of. As we soon found out. While the guy we talked to said that the car was in great condition and “pristine”, it turned out that it was not exactly either of those words. But they were very friendly and me and my mom were both desperate to find a car that was better to sit in so that we figured even if it was a little dirty it would be more good rather than bad. Especially after the 400 mile drive down to Oregon in late June just to go buy a car, but at least this time it was in better weather with more time to spare.

We hadn’t been through Oregon in a long time, so we figured it would be a new experience. And it very much was, the car was at a farm sitting in a muddy area under a tree locked away by a gate, but the owner had left to go to the store so his wife had to call him and let him know we were there. A short while later he returned and showed us the car. One thing for sure however was it was much more dirty than I thought; it was covered in cobwebs, stains, dirt, and grime inside and out. But on the test drive it preformed almost flawlessly, with everything working just fine, except the AC which probably just needs a recharge, I still haven’t done that yet because rolling the windows down works just fine anyway.

So yes, the car preformed good, but it was still gross inside. It turned out it had been sitting for 3 years because the owner couldn’t afford the payments on it, so he laid low for a while and the car just sat, and because of that he had only put around 3k miles on it, which is probably a good thing considering the way he drove it. But it turned out the car had other problems, one of the back windows had fallen off the regulator so it would sometimes slide down (and still does), the rear tailgate only opened one way rather than two since one of the mechanisms was broken, and there was a bit of lifter noise from the motor. Not big problems, but problems nonetheless.

Oh, and two of the tires had multiple nails in them, that was a little concerning. But he told us the nails hadn’t punctured all the way through yet so it wasn’t big deal and we would get home just fine. So the paperwork was exchanged and we did a straight across trade, a 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis for a 1994 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon. After we left, my mom decided that we should stop in town for some ice cream and to try and wash some of the dirt and grime off the wagon. We located a car wash and did so, but we were unable to find the ice cream shop so we settled on the gas station ice cream instead since is was just so hot outside.

One quick side note, if any of you ever end up driving through Union, Oregon on a trip or something. I would recommend you stop and enjoy what the town has to offer; it’s hilariously redneck and fun to explore. While me and my mom were sitting in the car eating our ice cream we saw a manner of crazy things: a 7 year old was driving a full size tractor around, there was a full sized monster truck driving down main street, and at the family owned gas station there was an actual gas station attendant filling up a beautiful 1950 Chevy 3100 pickup that looked all original. Sorry to get offtrack but it was just so fun to explore an old style town like that and I think that other people that drive through it should enjoy it too.

So anyway, with a full tank of gas we started on the 400 mile trip back home, yes with tires that were old and had nails in them, and were sometimes pulling the car to the left. But I figured that it could wait, and we drove home in full comfort and happy with the trade we had made. Why I don’t see these B-body cars on the road more often is something I’ll never understand; these cars are comfortable, powerful, large, good looking, and get good mileage on top of it. We only used a half tank to go 400 miles; the car is no hybrid but it’s certainly not bad on gas, and it has a good turning radius for the size too, I honestly don’t understand why I don’t see these cars on a regular basis, they sold pretty well too.

Ah well, maybe some people just aren’t into big comfy American cruising, or they’ve just never had the chance to experience it, or maybe for some people 25 to 30 years old is too old for a daily driver. But seriously, anyone who hasn’t experienced the big comfy American sedan or even a wagon is missing out in my opinion. But luckily we got home that night without any issues, and it’s a good thing that we didn’t have to stop, because we came out the next morning to find the front left tire completely flat, as the nails had finally taken their toll. I guess the only thing that was keeping the tire inflated was the pressure build up from highway driving, I guess you could say the comfort of the seats saved us from having to stop.

Since I figured the other tire was going to go soon, I just had the car towed to Les Schwab and had all new tires put on, and again it improved the ride dramatically. No more pull, no more nails, just smooth Dynaride sailing. But the other thing it desperately needed was another bath and a deep cleaning of the interior, which I did myself, and I’m proud to say that finally hours of cleaning the coffee stains out of the carpet and the old taffy candy out of the center console, not to mention all the cobwebs and dead bugs, it turned out really good. And I liked the car so much, I started to use it as a secondary cruiser for going to car shows and meets.

I actually ended up taking it to many different shows and cruises over the summer; it was no superstar but it seemed well liked by the large majority of people, as people would sometimes would tell me stories of when they used to ride in the back of the family station wagon. However one thing that surprised me the most was at one show it actually won a 1st place trophy for the 1990s vehicle category, which was one of the last things I expected. Considering that there wasn’t much to compete with it made sense, nonetheless I’m still very proud of that 1st place trophy as that was the first time I had won anything from a show or a cruise, in an imperfect car no less.

Early on I had changed the oil and filled up all the fluids to make sure no unnecessary problems developed, other than the strange quirk of the transmission getting confused when going uphill at higher speeds. If you don’t push hard enough on the gas it can’t seem to decide either to stay in overdrive or downshift, so it stutters around until you either give it more or less pedal, but it’s not a big issue as long as you make a decision. Other than that most of the time things were just smoothly uneventful; 3k miles later and it’s been nothing but pleasant, and driving in the snow isn’t bad either. However on the ice you really feel the car’s weight, and all the torque can get you into trouble hilariously easy, but that’s all part of the fun.

Oh, and I got into a “follow the leader” chase in this car, I don’t know if that interests anyone but I think it’s a funny little segment. One night last November I went to hang out with some friends and help them with some car stuff, and one of them ended up completely wasted. Me and another friend tried to convince him to not try to drive home but he refused and tried to drive home anyway. So I was giving the task of following him to make sure he didn’t get himself killed, or if he did get into an accident to call an ambulance. He was driving his 1978 Chevy El Camino that was hot rodded and had no seat belts, plus the addition of his crazy driving, so I knew that if he did get get into an accident it wasn’t going to be pretty.

But somehow, despite running through stop signs and red lights, going twice the speed limit, and hitting the curb a few times he managed not get into an accident or even have a cop see him. And the wagon was more than capable of keeping up with him even through the corners, though I did my best to obey all traffic laws while doing so, other than the excessive speed to keep up with him. Some people just seem to get unnaturally lucky all the time, and he seems to have that type of luck; no matter how recklessly he drives he seems to always be in the right place at the right time, I wish I had that type of luck, though the question I ask myself sometimes is how much longer he will keep getting lucky when he drives that way.

Now we move up to the present. The car has been handling the winter weather just fine, other than the battery-killing temperatures we had in the inland northwest the last week, which will most likely kill most of my car batteries. It still needs some work as all my cars do, like on the tailgate mechanism, rear passenger window regulator, and I want to check all the fluids again when the weather gets better. Some trim pieces and the lower bumper guard could be replaced but it hasn’t been a main objective; if I ever find the pieces I will purchase them as I would like to have a complete car. But in short I love this car and so does my mom, and I hope to keep this car for many years to come.

Lastly I also want to wish all of you a Happy New Year. January is also my birthday month and I turn 20 this year which I’m not really happy about, so I guess I’ll just have to age like everyone else, but there are worse things I suppose. Anyway if you got to the end I appreciate you taking the time. One more major COAL left, and while it’s not the happiest one it’s a very influential and bizarre one. Please feel free to comment down below with pointers and any information about the wagon I maybe unaware of (Yes, I am aware of the water pump issues on the LT1, I hope to have it checked soon), or any way I could improve my writing style.