Arizona Biltmore
28 - 29 January 2016
Lot 274

1948 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon


$90,750 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona



Chassis No.
  • A remarkable, well-known, largely original survivor
  • Formerly of Harrah’s Automobile Collection and “woodie” expert Wes Aplanalp’s personal car
  • Subject of famous book and magazine features
  • Shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2008

Model 79. 150 bhp, 320 cu. in. OHV Dynaflash inline eight-cylinder engine, two-speed Dynaflow automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs and live rear axle with coil springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 129 in.

In the July/August 1993 issue of Special Interest Autos magazine, Arch Brown described Buick’s largest station wagon as “literally in a class by itself in 1948. No other station wagon could even come close to it in terms of size, weight, power—or price. It was an impressive machine then, and it’s still impressive today.” It was, simply, the ultimate handcrafted post-war American “woodie” wagon.

The car so prominently featured in that article was the 1948 Roadmaster Estate Wagon shown here. It is perhaps the best and most original, authentic survivor of the mere 350 produced that year and one of the last Buick “woodies” to have full structural wood framing.

According to Brown’s history of the Buick, it was originally delivered to the lady owner of a horse ranch near Woodside, California. In 1969, it was sold to Harrah’s Automobile Collection, the fabulous museum of Nevada casino magnate and avid automobile enthusiast William Harrah, where it remained until 1982. That year, it was sold to Bud Juneau, the well-known automotive photographer whose shots graced many enthusiast magazines of this era, including SIA’s eight-page “DriveReport” on his own 1948 Buick. Juneau retained his beloved Estate Wagon until 2005, carefully maintaining it. It was acquired from him by Wes Aplanalp, the well-known Arizona “woodie” expert, as his personal car; it would be the last automobile Aplanalp sold before his death in 2014, when it was acquired by the current and only fifth known owner.

In the mid-1980s, the Estate Wagon’s body was refinished in the original Airedale Green color, while the original woodwork was stripped to the framing and re-varnished, piece by careful piece. The Bedford cord and leather interior remains original and in fine condition to this day; even the synthetic leather roof covering, which is irreplaceable, remains intact and factory-correct. Mechanically, the car has been well maintained but never restored, and according to its current owner, it runs and drives like a 36,000 original-mile car, which is its approximate mileage showing today. The limited mileage is believed to be correct given the car’s condition and the 33,215-mile odometer reading recorded at the time of its sale to Juneau.

In addition to its SIA feature, the Buick was pictured, wearing its California RDMSTER plate (which accompanies it today), in David Fetherston’s book, Woodys. It is one of very few Buick Estate Wagons, indeed, to have graced the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, which is perhaps the most striking indicator of the importance and respect with which it is viewed by enthusiasts. It was shown on the 18th green in 2008 and completed the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance as well.

Easily one of the most original, authentic, and well-respected survivors, this distinctively exceptional Roadmaster Estate Wagon is as special today as it has been for its entire life, earning the admiration of the handful of noted enthusiasts who have cared for it over the years. It is a superb “woodie” and still every bit the master of the road.