Considering buying a 96 Roadmaster need info

Darth Z

New member
May 12, 2019
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3
I’m looking to build a Buick Roadmaster as a sleeper project. I’m looking for things like: lower gears, limited slip, upgraded suspension, etc. Is there any special that I should be looking for? I know for a fact that the Buick Roadmaster Estate wagon had an upgraded suspension when they were equipped with trailer hitch. Is the same true for the Roadmaster sedan? Is this suspension any better than the suspension system used on the Impala SS and 9C1 special service Caprice? Thanks in advance for any help!
 

rwd_pete

New member
Sep 5, 2018
10
3
Hi Darth
I've never had a Roadmaster, but I've had a 96 Impala SS since '98 and had a '94 Caprice L99 for awhile. From what I understand the Wagons have a more heavy duty type of suspension for hauling a load or towing. Impala SS springs are shorter than a Caprice so the imp sits lower. impala SS came with special rear performance shocks. impala SS had rear disk brakes and the Caprice ones were drums on the back. Impala SS steering box is around 12:1 while regular sedans are slower 15:1. The Imp gear was 3.08 and the Caprice was 3.23. Not sure about the wagon or sedan. Probably the Roadmaster sedan suspension is focused on a soft ride. The Buick 350 engine would be the same as an Imp engine but the I think the wagon/sedan may have only had single exhaust. Not sure. The Gen II makes great power and my fuel economy was almost the same as my Olds silhouette van.
Pete
 
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Darth Z

New member
May 12, 2019
7
3
Thank you Pete! A lot of good information there. The reason I am certain that the Buick Roadmaster Estate had a “performance suspension” from the factory, it because the Editor of GMHigh Performance magazine once published an editorial about them. He had contacts inside GM told him that they looked at the wagon in particular, not just the basic Roadmaster, and the engineers looked at it, decided that it was so wide, and relatively low, that it handled quite well. They knew they could improve on that. They developed a suspension that handled quite a bit better than the factory cushy ride. They designed it and built a test model. Presented it to the bean counters that make decisions. At that time, they didn’t want to push a higher performance Buick wagon. They went back to the drawing board, and decided to throw a trailer hitch on it, and then pitch a “trailer package, to get their suspension components approved. Bean counters as we know, are stupid. They fell for it. Into production it went. The addition of a trailer hitch and wiring got the higher performance suspension package approved.

Coincidentally, I have wanted an Impala since high school. They came out at that time. There was a lot of confusion and rumors like they had big blocks, or the “Corvette motor,” etc. The later is partially true, but they always fail to mention that it’s de-tuned. I know the heads are different, and I’m sure the exhaust is part of the reason as well. I’m unsure of the differences between internal components though.

That being said. An Impala is what I truly want! There’s just something cool about the wagons. It really all depends on what I can get for the right price.;)
 

rwd_pete

New member
Sep 5, 2018
10
3
My kids were teenage in the '90's and I needed a 4 door hot rod for going to cruise nights. I bought a 62 Pontiac (Canadian Parisienne 283 engine) Originally i installed a 400/700r4 but later I bought the Impala SS in '98. I gave my son the Pontiac but it was a gas pig and we bought an Impala SS drive line for it. So the Pontiac has a stock GEN II/4L60E trans. The GEN II 350 started in Corvettes in '92 or '93 and were called LT1's. The B body cars had iron heads vs aluminum for Vette/Camaro and a milder cam 64in the B bodys. The iron heads were designed later and flow better I've heard. There is also a L99 version that came in in Caprices that is only 4.3 Liter(265) but it looks like a 350. I'm currently putting an injected GEN II 350 iron head 350 in my 78 Malibu. I have a 56 Ford that had a Vette aluminum head engine with a GM Hot cam and 4bbl intake. The engine is currently out. It had a bit of piston slap and needs to go .030 over. I like driving the Impala but it is big, so the Malibu will be a similar running but smaller car.

Pete