Beginners Guide

New to the world of GM's B-Bodies? Trying to remember what that SPID code on your wagon? Don't know what a SPID is? You're at the right place! This page will be a constantly evolving listing of many of the things those new to the B-Body's ask about on a regular basis. Click here for a brief list of some terms you may come across in chatting with b-body fans.




Looking For Your First Wagon?

(submitted to this site for your reference by permission)
17k mi 96 RMW $4000!

The title got your attention. Would get mine, too. It's an actual ad I saw & bought the car, sight unseen about two years ago. I've seen SO many "too late, someone else bought it" stories in this wagon section, that I had to write this. Often, that someone else was ME, but often, not anyone from the forum got the car, & I was the "too late," though not for lack of trying.

Want to know how to snag a great deal when you're no where near the car? ACT! And QUICKLY!

1. If it seems like a great deal, amplify your cajones and get ready to BUY - not talk, not email, not wonder. It's unlikely a scam on one of these cars - sure, there have been a few (some scammer once hijacked one of my listings & a year later put it on Craigslist,) but it's unlikely. More often, it's a late model (value more widely known) car that's used to lure scammers. How many people out there REALLY know that 2700 for a 13 year old American car is cheap??? Generally, these cars are priced cheap because of buyer ignorance (even dealers - a Michigan dealer sold a 17k mi 95 RMW a week ago for 7500.)

2. If you have the VIN (like the AutoTrader ad did) run it on Carfax & see if the sellers location is about the same as the last registration.

3. If it's a STEAL, know that if YOU saw the listing, so have a bunch of other people that see the bargain, so you better get moving. Touche.

4. Call. Now. Be persistent if you get a machine. Leave a message every 5 minutes. Leave no doubt that you want to PURCHASE the car (not look, not haggle, not otherwise jerk his chain - just BUY.) Be the FIRST. If they tell you someone is on the way to look at the car, it's probably not BS if the car is a bargain! Talk BRIEFLY about the car (ask about anything MAJOR that's wrong - an honest seller will start blabbing about the minor stuff we all know goes wrong with these, but you, as a smart buyer, won't want to let him talk about that because that buys the next guy time to arrive at the door with the cash.) Talk MOSTLY about how to get it paid for. Get a couple hundred dollars to the seller FAST & promise to get the balance in his hands in no more than 48 hours. Pay with a credit card if possible (if it is a fraud, you have some protection.) But GET THE SELLER SOME MONEY. Put it where your mouth is! Get the promise that the car is not available for sale until you've had a chance to live up to your promise.

5. Remember, if you've seen every other 39k mile 96 go for 9-10 grand, & you have access to parts (ALL of us on the forum share, so we ALL have access - I just happen to have my own stash) then who CARES what minor stuff is wrong with the car???? At 2700 for a 40k car, I would have to spend FIVE grand on it before I got "hurt." But with what resources I have (as most of us here do) it's unlikely the car requires more than light sun damage reconditioning, maybe a grand to get the car standing tall. At this point, I have a $200 deposit downside potential, & six grand upside potential. Use this same rationale on ANY car! Even if the car was ROUGH, it'd bring the money. **Note - like this car - if the seller can't speak English, get someone who speaks Spanish! Or, ask for someone to translate! I seriously (& sadly) think on this car that the seller's English skills turned away most callers, who were probably pasty-white eldergents.**

6. Then, state that you'll probably send someone you know in the area to give the CASH (never mention a check) & pick up the paperwork &/or car.

7. NOW figure out the rest! But get the deal secured first. Find someone you trust nearby to wire the money to that can go get the car. There are a bunch of us on the forum, & there's likely someone nearby that can help you!

8. The best part - if your buddy goes by to pay for the car & it IS a scam or horribly misrepresented, he can walk away, & you're out a minuscule amount which you might even get back if it IS fraud.

9. If you can't find a friend, get a local repair shop (get license/bond number) to inspect & acquire the car for you. Most of them inspect (about $100) but most don't buy - you'll have to call around. You can also likely find a dealer to broker it for you - he'll likely have the cash to get the car bought, then re-sell to you for a fair amount (4-600 is fair.) Again, get license number & bond.

10. Once car is acquired, get a bill of sale to you (fax or email) ASAP & insure the car. Hopefully, you've spoken to the above folks about getting the car somewhere safe until you can pick up or transport.

11. Hold your breath, but not too long. Odds are STRONGLY in your favor that you got a great deal. Even if it needs some work you hadn't planned on, consider that you got the car for about ONE QUARTER of what they've been bringing.

This runs completely counter to most people's thinking: sit back, wait it out, be cautious, be ready to haggle, offer half the asking price, & all sorts of other behaviors that we're taught about buying cars. But when the "one that got away" turns into 3, 4 or more, you HAVE to re-examine your strategy.

Hope this helps some of you. Besides, if I'm scrambling to get a car bought, I'd rather know what my competition is up to. --Fred



What's the difference?

What are the differences between a Roadmaster, Custom Cruiser and Caprice? Read on to find out

If you are new to GM's last generation B-Body cars, you may be wondering 'What is the difference?' This is a very good question to ask, preferably before you purchase your first one! While our beloved b-bodies are essentially rebadges of a single corporate vehicle design there are some notable differences. In wagon form, these differences are largely 'under the skin.'

Chevrolet was and is GM's "value" line of vehicles and thus, the least expensive of the group. Oldsmobile was a step up from Chevy and Buick the top of the line. Of course if you're looking at the sedans there is yet one more step up, the Cadillac.

Hopefully soon, a more comprehensive document will be put together on this. For now, here are the basics.

As you "step up" through each model you will find better sound deadening as well as an increasing number of options as well as standard equipment. For instance, Remote Keyless Entry was not available on the Caprice (wagon), was optional on the Custom Cruiser and standard (but could be deleted) on the Roadmaster.

Engines - During the 1991 through 1996 model year run, there were four engines used in these cars. In 1991, only the 5.0 liter throttle body injected (TBI) engine (L03) was available. In 1992, the 5.7 liter TBI engine (L05) was made available in the Olds and Chevy and became standard in the Roadmaster. This remained unchanged for 1993. In 1994 along with new interiors came the multi-port fuel injected (MPFI) engines derived from the Corvette line. In all wagons, as well as the Buick and Cadillac sedans, the 5.7 MPFI LT1 engine became standard equipment. In the Caprice sedan, a new 4.3 liter MPFI engine (L99) was standard with an optional upgrade to the LT1.

Transmissions - Only two transmissions were used between '91 and '96. All TBI equipped cars came with GM's 700R4 (later renamed the 4L60) four speed transmission. When the engines were changed to the LT1 (and L99) powerplants, a new electronic transmission was installed. This transmission is known as the 4L60E and is also a four speed automatic.


What's a SPID?

SPID stands for Service Parts IDentification Label. This is a white sticker with black lettering and is located on the right side jamb of the end gate. This sticker has the following items:
VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) - Basically this is your cars unique serial number.
RPO Codes - This is a listing of three character codes which correspond to each option installed on your car. Click here for a listing of the codes and their meanings.
Paint Code - This is the code which identifies the paint color applied to your car by the factory. You will usually find two of these, one beginning with the letter 'U' and the other an 'L'. If your car had a two tone factory paint job, the U is the upper color, and L lower.


Production Numbers

While there is no known database of specific production counts, such as "How many 1996 Roadmaster Wagons were built in Limited form?" We do have a mostly complete count of how many of each model year wagon and sedan were built. There are some gaps here so if you have the information, please contact the webmaster!


Wagon Production Numbers

 

Caprice

Custom Cruiser

Roadmaster

1991

15,000

7,663

6,729

1992

13,400

4,347

11,019

1993

10,607

0

9,525

1994

7,719

0

8,669

1995

5,030

0

5,522

1996

485

0

8,962

Total Production

52,241

12,010

50,426

Sedan Production Numbers

 

Caprice

Caprice 9C1

Impala SS

Roadmaster

Fleetwood

1991

?

36,017

0

0

0

1992

?

28,652

0

?

0

1993

?

27,642

0

?

?

1994

?

31,762

6,303

?

?

1995

?

26,351

21,434

?

13,445

1996

?

10,859

41,941

12,581

12,596

Total Production

incomplete

161,283

69,678

incomplete

incomplete

NOTE: While there was a Fleetwood built by Cadillac for 1991 and 1992 they are not generally included in these B/D body manufacturing counts as the drivetrain was not identical (essentially) to the other companion cars.



Copyright 2009 Michael Prosise. The materials contained on this site are available to the general public for use in the maintenance and restoration of the applicable vehicles.

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