Posted by: Jerry Garrett | January 28, 2012

One For The Money: What’s a 1953 Buick Roadmaster Worth?

What's a powder blue 1953 Buick Roadmaster really worth these days?


What’s a powder blue 1953 Buick Roadmaster really worth these days? Would you believe a million dollars? Ten thousand dollars? Nothing?

Who cares?

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.

Six-figure collectible!

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!]

Jerry Garrett

January 28, 2012


  1. Much to my dismay, the One for the Money movie did use a 53 Buick,. Perhaps that is part of the reason the movie bombed. Enjoyed your article.

    • That car was actually from the mid 1970’s; the movie strayed from the story there. But as a plot device I get it.

  2. Unfortunately for me, that was largely why I rented the movie, and it wasn’t the 53 Buick in the movie. Color me disappointed.

  3. I love uncle Sanford Buick and wish I had one. Love it almost much as the movie and the book. I keep them all And retread them over and over! Even though the Buick used was A 1978 Buick wildcat I still loved the movie

  4. The whole movie was miscast – Katherine Heigl – like casting Grace Kelly!! and Debbie REYNOLDS ffs.. Grandma Mazur should have been Sophia from ‘Golden Girls’ or someone just like her…

    • I agree with you completely–totally miscast. Brown eyed Heigl–who I really do like –is not Stephanie–Stephanie’s blue eyes are trademark to the character–If they had done the movie earlier, Sandra Bullock could have pulled it off–me thinks. Casting a guy with blue eyes to play the Italian brown eyed stud Joe–is just wrong–I mean an Irish guy (O’Mara), while I love the Irish –hell I’m 1/2 Irish myself–is not a substitute for a character who is all about being Italian. Love Debbie Reynolds–she is not Grandma Mazur. I had the same thought as you Jean–Estelle Getty would have been perfect casting “She was born Estelle Scher on July 25, 1923, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, the daughter of Charles and Sarah Scher, Polish-Jewish immigrants” and her Sophia was very very close to Mazur. Sherri Sheppard was not really Lula–but
      Sheryl Underwood –wow she could have played her really well. If they had done the movie 15 years earlier–the casting would have been easier and better.

    • Although even Sandra doesn’t have the required blue eyes–but she could better capture the boldness and physical humor.

  5. The car was not converted to 24 volt, a 24 volt system was added.

  6. Grandma Yetta from” The Nanny” would have made a great Grandma Mazur and Emma Stone as Stephanie.

  7. I’ve recently been reading the Stephanie Plum novels (almost through all of them), and wondered what the ’53 Roadmaster looks like. So I Google it, and who do I find blogging about it, my favorite investigative journalist. Hope all is well!

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