They 1950-1952 Buick Roadmasters were serious automobiles, built with integrity, of a quality and durability that vanished around 1955 and has not been around since. It has often been remarked that there was probably more steel in the dashboard of an early-Fifties Buick than in an entire Suburu: undoubtedly an exaggeration, but the photos reveal what's implied.
Like most other cars of 1950, 1951, and 1952, these Roadmasters were built: hoods clang down like manhole covers, doors shut with a solid clunk on bank vault-like hinges, radios wrap you in that kind of "fat" sound you just don't get from transistors. Maybe it was clumsily executed, but it is this kind of sheer integrity that makes cars like the Roadmaster appeal to people today.
Roadmasters in all three years were offered as a four-door sedan, Riviera hardtop, convertible, and wagon, the latter making extensive use of real tree wood. (The last woodies made by anyone were built by Buick, in 1953.) In 1950 there were also Deluxe versions of the Riviera and sedan, the latter confusingly called the "Riviera" too, plus the last Roadmaster sedanets. These pretty fastbacks were dropped because of slow sales -- only 2,968 in their final '50 model year -- which renders them highly desirable by collectors today.
These Buicks also represent the last, or almost the last, of the long-running overhead valve straight eight, which still pumped out creditable horsepower in the Roadmaster. The smaller Buick Special retained its straight eight in 1953; then the entire line received V-8 power for '54.
In its final year, the straight-eight Roadmaster convertible -- the most expensive Buick save for the woody wagons -- had a base price of $3,453, which means it typically cost about $4,000, or just under $20,000 in today's money. That's quite a lot of car for the dollar.
For 1950-1952 Buick Roadmaster specifications, go to the next page.