Buick Estate

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Buick Estate Wagon
Buick Roadmaster Wagon.jpg
Roadmaster Estate
Overview
Manufacturer Buick (General Motors)
Also called Buick Electra Estate
Buick LeSabre Estate
Production 1970–1990
Body and chassis
Class Full-size car
Body style 4-door station wagon
Layout FR layout

The Buick Estate was a line of full-sized station wagons manufactured by the Buick division of General Motors. As its premier luxury division, Cadillac, didn't offer a station wagon, the Estate was GM's most expensive and most fully equipped entry in the market.

Early history[edit]

The first Buick Estate station wagon was a large-bodied GM C platform Super modified with a wooden body, shared with the Oldsmobile Series 60. In 1941 and 1942 it was available on Buick's B platform Special series, and later on Buick's C platform (Roadmaster and Super) in the 1946–53 model years. From 1954 to 1958 it was only offered on the smaller B platform Century and Special, with all steel bodies. Among these were hardtop Estate Wagons called Caballero that were offered only in 1957 and 1958.

From 1959 through 1964 the Estate Wagon was offered on the B platform Invicta and LeSabre. In 1965, the Estate Wagon was replaced by the new, smaller A platform Buick Sport Wagon, making the B-body Chevrolet Impala Estate and Pontiac Safari the only full-sized GM station wagons until 1970.

1940s[edit]

1950s[edit]

1960s[edit]

1970[edit]

First generation
1970 Buick Estate Wagon.jpg
Overview
Model years 1970
Assembly Flint, Michigan, United States
Designer Bill Mitchell
Body and chassis
Platform B-body
Related Buick Wildcat
Buick LeSabre
Oldsmobile 88
Pontiac Bonneville
Pontiac Executive
Pontiac Catalina
Chevrolet Caprice
Chevrolet Impala
Chevrolet Bel Air
Chevrolet Biscayne
Powertrain
Engine 455 cu in (7.5 L) Buick V8
Transmission 3-speed TH-400, automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 124.0 in (3,150 mm)
Length 220.2 in (5,593 mm)
Curb weight 4,900–5,000 lb (2,200–2,300 kg)

The Buick Estate wagon was re-introduced as the top-level luxury station wagon for GM in 1970 to compete against the Mercury Colony Park and Chrysler Town & Country. Buick's first full-sized station wagon since 1964, it was available as a separate series on the B-body LeSabre and Wildcat, sharing their 124.0-inch (3,150 mm) wheelbase, basic body and interior. The LeSabre Custom's bright rocker, wheelhouse and rear lower fender moldings were used. Woodgrain was an option for the body sides, incorporating the traditional "Sweepspear" feature. Interiors were all vinyl in a Custom grade. Despite being on the B-body it shared the C-body division flagship Electra's 455 cubic inch V8 and four VentiPorts on the front fenders. The following year the Estate would move up to Electra's larger body and more voluminous interior.

1971–1976[edit]

Second generation
1971 Buick Estate wagon front.jpg
1971 Buick Estate Wagon
Overview
Model years 1971–1976
Assembly Flint, Michigan, United States
Designer Bill Mitchell
Body and chassis
Platform C-body B-body
Related Buick Electra
Oldsmobile 98
Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser
Pontiac Grand Safari
Pontiac Safari
Chevrolet Kingswood Estate
Chevrolet Kingswood
Chevrolet Townsman
Powertrain
Engine 455 cu in (7.5 L) Buick V8
Transmission 3-speed TH-400, automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 127.0 in (3,226 mm)
Length 1971: 226.8 in (5,761 mm)
1972: 228.3 in (5,799 mm)
1973: 229.5 in (5,829 mm)
1974: 231.1 in (5,870 mm)
1975–76: 231.8 in (5,888 mm)
Width 1971–72: 79.7 in (2,024 mm)
1973: 79.6 in (2,022 mm)
1974–76: 79.9 in (2,029 mm)
Height 1971–1973: 57.3 in (1,455 mm)
1974: 57.9 in (1,471 mm)
1975: 58.4 in (1,483 mm)
1976: 57.8 in (1,468 mm)
Curb weight 5,100–5,400 lb (2,300–2,400 kg)

The 1971 to 1976 Estates were the first Buick station wagons to be built on its largest chassis since the Roadmaster Estates of 1947–53. However, even though the Estate shared its 127.0-inch (3,230 mm) C-body wheelbase with the Electra 225, all 1971–76 GM wagons were assigned B-body-based per model numbers.[1] The 1971–76 GM full-size bodies, at 64.3" front shoulder room and 63.4" rear shoulder room set a record for interior width that would not be matched by any car until the full-size GM rear-wheel drive models of the early to mid 1990s. The Estate also shared the Electra 225's interior and exterior styling from 1971 to 1974 (complete with the prerequisite four VentiPorts). Door trim and seats were not as plush in 1971–74 wagons and no door pull strap was included as it was on the Electra. And although from 1975 to 1976 the number of VentiPorts were reduced by one, and the front fascia was downgraded to a LeSabre's (as was door trim and seats), the Electra 225 style chrome rocker panel moldings and distinctive Electra 225 style rear quarter panels (albeit without fender skirts) remained. The taillights were different from both the LeSabre and the Electra in all of these years.

The Estate Wagons, as with other GM full-sized wagons during these years, used a rear suspension with multi-leaf springs instead of the coil springs used on other full-sized Buicks, and other full-sized GM cars.

The Estate Wagons also featured a new 'clamshell' tailgate design, marketed as the Glide-away Tailgate, where the rear power-operated glass slid up into the roof as the lower tailgate (manually or with power assist), slid into a recess under the cargo floor. Ultimately, the manual lower tailgate was supplanted by the power tailgate. The tailgate system was operated by switches on the instrument panel or a key switch on the rear quarter panel. Like a top-hinged tailgate, the clamshell design allowed a user to stand directly at the open cargo area without impediment, facilitating loading and unloading in tight spaces.

1974 Buick Estate Wagon

In its first year, 24,034 Estate Wagons were sold.[2]

At 5,182 lb (2,351 kg) shipping weight, or about 5,400 lb (2,400 kg) curb weight, the three-seat 1974 Estate Wagons are easily the heaviest Buicks ever built, even heavier than the Buick Limited limousines of 1936–42. The 1975 and 1976 models were the longest station wagons ever built.[3]

The Estate used the Buick 455 from 1971 to 1976 throughout. The last year that the Stage One high performance version, with high lift camshaft, enlarged ports, enlarged valves and dual exhaust was available was in 1974.

1977–1990[edit]

Third generation
Buick Estate Wagon -- 06-14-2012 front.JPG
Overview
Model years 1977–1990
Assembly Arlington, Texas, United States
Body and chassis
Platform B-body
Related Buick Electra
Buick LeSabre
Oldsmobile 88
Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser
Pontiac Bonneville
Pontiac Parisienne
Pontiac Catalina
Pontiac Safari
Chevrolet Caprice
Powertrain
Engine 350 in³ Buick V8
307 in³ Oldsmobile V8
350 in³ LF9 diesel V8
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 115.9 in (2,944 mm)
Length 220.5 in (5,601 mm)
Width 79.3 in (2,014 mm)
Height 59.3 in (1,506 mm)

In 1977, the Buick Estate was downsized and relaunched on General Motors' B-body. In 1979, an Estate Wagon Limited was offered with many extra cost options included as standard. To further differentiate the Limited model, fenders included four VentiPorts (up from three) and the interior had loose pillow designed seating.

1980s Buick Electra Estate Wagon

In 1980, body changes made the wagon more aerodynamic for better fuel efficiency. Also that year, the Electra Estate Wagon was introduced and replaced the Estate Wagon Limited while the 'base' model was now called the LeSabre Estate Wagon.

Although the Electra and LeSabre coupes and sedans had both switched to new front wheel drive platforms by 1986, the model names also continued to be used on the rear wheel drive wagons through 1989.

In 1990, its final year, the Electra and LeSabre model designations were dropped and the car was once again sold simply as the Estate Wagon. Although the Estate Wagon model was discontinued in 1990, the Estate trim designation continued on the mid-size Century and full-size Roadmaster station wagons through 1996.

1991–1996[edit]

1993 Buick Roadmaster Estate

Buick revived the Roadmaster name with the introduction of the Roadmaster Estate in 1991. A "Vista Roof", a fixed sunroof over the second row seats, was standard. Initially the Roadmaster Estate used Chevrolet's 5.0 L small-block V8, but used the larger 5.7 L version from 1992. In 1994 the 5.7 L LT1 engine with dual exhaust became standard, the same as used on the Impala SS and on Chevrolet police cars. A high-performance engine had last been offered on a GM station wagon in 1974.

GM discontinued the Roadmaster Estate in 1996, ending production on December 13 of that year.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 1976 Buick sales brochure says wagon models are 4BR35 and 4BR45. One telltale is the lower inside door trim which was hard plastic in 1971–76 B-bodies and padded vinyl in C-bodies. Wheelbase is not a good indicator of body; check rear legroom.
  2. ^ Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. American Cars 1960–1972 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy, 2004), p. 793.
  3. ^ "12. What was the biggest station wagon ever made?". FAQ's. Stationwagon.com. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  4. ^ Ward's Automotive Yearbook 1997. Ward's Communications, Inc. 1997. 

Sources[edit]

  • Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. American Cars 1960–1972. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy, 2004.