What’s a powder blue 1953 Buick Roadmaster really worth these days? Would you believe a million dollars? Ten thousand dollars? Nothing?
Actually, the millions of fans of the Janet Evanovich mystery series, featuring Stephanie Plum, who are very familiar with Uncle Sandor’s powder blue 1953 Buick Roadmaster. They care. And the handful of people seeing the 2012 movie, “One For The Money“, starring Katherine Heigl - the first novel in the Plum series – may be wondering about the part the Buick plays in the plucky bail-bondswoman’s life and career. (The movie provides plenty of opportunity for the mind to wander, er, wonder.)
But the iconic Buick has some people wondering (okay, it has me wondering, at least) if the model actually is a collectible or just a plot device.
The Buick is nigh well indestructible – hence its ability to survive through more than 18 of Ms. Evanovich’s Plum tales (so far). While the Buick is the butt of an ongoing series of gags, it is not the automotive albatross you might think.
Some models are quite valuable, according to the valuation tools posted online by Hagerty Insurance, which provides insurance services for classic vehicles.
A ’53 Roadmaster Skylark convertible could be worth $117,000 – to insure, at least; it might be worth more (or less) depending on condition or prior ownership (more on that in a moment). A station wagon version could be worth more than $50,000. Station wagons were highly valued in those days – more than coupes or sedans – and after decades of being ignored by collectors, wagon values are really on the rise. A coupe is probably a $20,000-ish collectible. But a sedan is the laggard of the lot – worth an average of less than $10,000.
So why throw around “a million dollars” at the top of this article? Well, the blue sedan pictured above actually sold at a Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in 2005 for $1.62 million!
Why so much?
Here’s where that “prior ownership” consideration, mentioned above, comes into play: The powder blue (official designation “Light Blue”) Roadmaster shown above – which is a dead ringer for Uncle Sandor’s Buick – was formerly owned by Howard Hughes!
Hughes had done some modifications to the car, including putting in a special air filtration system (he was a bit of a nut about germs) in the trunk, and upgrading the 12-volt battery and electrics to a 24-volt aviation system (so he could jump-start his plane).
Okay, so we threw a ringer in there! Not all ’53 Buick Roadmasters were created equal. But some, obviously were more equal than others – especially those with a celebrity provenance. Kinda makes you wonder what the real Uncle Sandor Roadmaster might be worth. Since the movie is such a bomb, maybe the producers will be willing to sell it.
[Footnote: Why a 1953 Buick Roadmaster, of all cars? That's the car in which Janet Evanovich learned to drive!]
January 28, 2012