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To the Dadmobile: Why the Buick Roadmaster is Surging in Popularity

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1994 Buick Roadmaster
Photo: Alden Jewell

Picture a summer road trip in the ’90s — the image isn’t complete without a wood-paneled station wagon, like the Buick Roadmaster. It was GM’s valiant attempt revive the boxy old “estate cars” of the ’50s and ’60s, but alas, it was drowned in a sea of minivans and those newfangled things called “sport utility vehicles.” Nevertheless, the Roadmaster has surfaced again, and it’s only getting more popular.

Ready for Road Trips: Get your vehicle prepared for summer

“The AMC Pacer of the 1990s”

There’s no getting around it — when the Roadmaster was released, it was scorned for being homely and, in a word, dorky. Nowadays, it looks like the Roadmaster was just ahead of its time. Hagerty called the Buick Roadmaster “the AMC Pacer of the 1990s” — in reference to the Pacer’s eventual cult status.

Indeed, its faux-wood paneling has won the hearts of hipsters and Instagrammers. As of the time of this writing, there are over 9,000 photos tagged #buickroadmaster and #buickroadmasterwagon on Instagram. Roadmaster enthusiasts span the globe from Milan and Tokyo to Toronto and Hollywood.

Why the Buick Roadmaster?

Aside from its ironic appeal, there’s a lot going for this wagon. For instance, this wood-paneled family hauler has the heart of a sports car. Third-generation Roadmasters boast a 5.7-liter LTI V8 — the same engine as the Corvette. However, Roadmaster’s engine was detuned to produce only 260 horsepower and top out at 108 miles per hour.

It’s a pretty practical vehicle, too — it has room for eight people, and thanks to its low-slung body, you can easily load large cargo items, like luggage, a canoe, or camping gear. Plus, with little conveniences like climate control and a sunroof, the Roadmaster is perfect for a summer road trip.

Oh, and let’s not overlook the price — the Roadmaster’s average listing price on Kelley Blue Book is $2,990. Taken together, this old wagon offers a lot of space, power, and ironic hipster style for a low price.

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Source: Bloomberg