Roadmasters produced between 1936 and 1958 were built on Buick's longest wheelbase and shared its basic structure with senior Oldsmobiles. Between 1946 and 1957, the Roadmaster was Buick's premium and best appointed model, and was offered in sedan, coupe, convertible and station wagon bodystyles between 1936 and 1948. In 1949 a hardtop coupe, designated "Riviera" joined the model line up; a four-door hardtop joined the model range in 1955.
The 1953 Buick Roadmaster station wagon, Model 79-R, was the last wood-bodied station wagon mass-produced in the United States. Its body was a product of Iona Manufacturing which built all Buick station wagon bodies between 1946 and 1964. Priced at US$4,031, the wagon was second in price to the Buick Skylark. Only 670 of these final woody wagons were produced for 1953.
In 1959, Buick again introduced a model range that represented a significant shift in its body design, and the Roadmaster was renamed the Electra.
Buick revived the Roadmaster name for a B-body station wagon in 1991, replacing the Estate station wagon in the lineup. The wagon was called the Roadmaster Estate Wagon. A sedan joined it for 1992. The Roadmaster wagon was very similar to its sisters Chevrolet Caprice and Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser; in 1993, the newly-redesigned Cadillac Fleetwood also resembled the Roadmaster and Caprice sedans--except that it featured chrome-plated front and rear bumpers and was much more expensive.
Standard on all Roadmaster Estate Wagons were woodgrain sides (except when special-ordered with option WB4 wood delete) and a "Vista Roof", a fixed sunroof over the second row seats. The Estate Wagon could seat up to eight with an optional third row seat. All these wagons initially used Chevrolet's 5.0L small-block V8, but both Buicks used the larger 5.7L version from 1992.
GM discontinued both the Roadmaster sedan and the Roadmaster Estate Wagon in 1996. This was blamed on the smaller but more expensive and luxurious Park Avenue growing in size; the Roadmaster trim levels never exceeded that of the smaller but still full-sized Buick LeSabre. Another reason was largely a response to the SUV craze, as the Arlington, Texas factory where RWD GM cars were built was converted to truck and SUV production. When discontinued, the Roadmaster Estate and the similar Chevrolet Caprice wagon brought up the end of the era of the full-size family station wagon, and an end to General Motors' production of rear-wheel drive, full-size cars.