Here’s What Everyone Forgot About The Buick Wildcat.
Considered a proponent of “affordable luxury,” Buick came to market with swanky production cars comparable to the Caddy. Originally unveiled as an option of the 1962 Buick Invicta, the Wildcat was conversely pushed on its performance rather than its opulence.
In fact, the Wildcat’s execution on the road became such a selling point for Buick, their print ad for the 1964 Wildcat boldly read – “Should only strong, steely-nerved men be permitted to drive this ’64 Wildcat?” In the same ad, they responded to their own query – “The only reason we raise this question is because we’re talking about the toughest, meanest, most impatient Wildcat Buick’s ever bred.”
Was it the right move? It appears so as 1964 Buick Production numbers show 57,698 Wildcats manufactured, an outsell over the Riviera’s 37,658, which came with the Wildcat 465 V8 standard.
Similarly in the two-door convertible comparison, amongst the Buick fam, Wildcats were only second to Skylarks – even though they were competing against the Skylark’s long history on the market. The selling numbers for Skylark were at 10,225, Wildcat at 7,850, Electra 225 at 7,181, and LeSabre at 6,685.
Even though the ’64 numbers were promising, a mere seven years later, Wildcats were no more and haven’t returned to production in the last 50 years. With a half-century in the rearview, we take a look back to find out what everyone forgot about the Buick Wildcat.
1: First Wildcat Was A 1950s Concept Car
The Wildcat’s first appearance came in the form of three models of a concept car in the mid-50’s. In 1953, the first Wildcat, a two-seater with a fiberglass body, was presented at the Motorama.
In 1954, again at the Motorama, Buick brought the Wildcat II for its unveiling. This fiberglass, the two-seater was on a ‘Vette chassis with a V8 supercharger. The 1955 version revealed the Wildcat III as a four-seater.
2: The Wildcat Had Nine Lives
Okay, the Buick Wildcat hasn’t lived all NINE lives – well, not yet anyway; but it has had many. As we just mentioned, the Buick Wildcat came to life as a mid-century concept car. In 1962, it saw its second life, as a specific model (a subseries) within the Buick Invicta line.
As an Invicta, the Wildcat package included the 401 cubic inch V8 at 325 horse-power and was the highest price option at $3,927. In 1963, the Wildcat was produced as its own series for its third stage of life. That ended in 1970 when the Wildcat was laid to rest. Its next breath of life came in the form of a Buick concept car in 1985. While it hasn’t been resurrected yet; the concepts have continued.
3: The Wildcat As Its Own Series
Following its move from an Invicta subseries in 1962, the Wildcat launched as its own series in 1963 with a two-door coupe and convertible as well as four-door hardtop for 1963.
The second-generation Wildcat hit the streets with the 1965 production year through 1970. It was the predecessor of the 1971 Buick Centurion.
4: 1985 Buick Wildcat Concept Car
After the first three models of the Wildcat as a concept car in the ‘50s, the fourth came to life for SEMA in 1985. The specs on the ’85 Wildcat Concept report both a naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 and a turbocharged version.
Each of the V6’s had a four-speed automatic. The naturally-aspirated Wildcat posted 230-horse with a 5.9 second 0 to 60, while the turbocharger made 360-horse and a 4.4 second 0 to 60.
5: More Wildcat Concept Cars Have Circulated
Over the years, Wildcat Concept info has been rumored and even circulated on the internet. There are several reports of a 1997 Buick Riviera Wildcat concept, including this one from Cars and Racing Stuff that describes the Wildcat concept; however, one of our favorites is the 2013 Marc Senger Buick Wildcat Concept.
The Senger Concept Wildcat is a RWD two-seater. The Roadster specs show a 12-second quarter time.
6: Wildcat’s Engine Of The Same Name Was Nicknamed “Nailhead”
Superseding the Buick straight-eight engine was the Buick V8. The first-gen of the V8 was also called the Nailhead. It took the name due to the appearance of the nail-shaped valve, with its long stems and small heads.
The 325-hp, 401 cubic-inch Wildcat V8 became a standard in the Buick’s muscle cars. It was called the Wildcat 445, with the 445 referencing its torque rating.
7: 1965 Wildcat Was A 15-Second Car
Although the Wildcat fell into the Luxury Car segment, it still offered performance. Running the aforementioned Wildcat 445 engine, its top speed estimation was 192 mph.
According to Automobile Catalog specs, this speed estimate was for the 1965 Wildcat two-door Deluxe Sport Coupe. The same Wildcat’s 0 to 60 was 7.6-seconds, and its quarter-mile was at 15.9 seconds.
8: 1969 Wildcat Body Change Was Inspired By The Chevy Impala
In 1969, Buick modified the Wildcat body style. It received the same body as their Le Sabre with some minor differentiations.
The differences included a square chrome loop bumper and a bolder grille, according to Hagerty. Wildcats trademark gills behind the front wheels remained intact. Its B-body inspiration came from the Chevy Impala as its competition.
9: Wildcats Were And Still Are Good Value
The original base purchase price of the 1963 Buick Wildcat was $3,849. An average selling price of $20,000 would show nearly 5 times the return on investment.
For those wishing to buy into one now, a ’62 to ’67 Wildcat can be purchased today for a range of $13K to upwards of $40,000. Last year, Autoevolution reported this one-year-only 1966 Buick Wildcat GS for sale dirt cheap at less than $5,000.
10: Wildcats Made Appearances In Many TV Shows And Movies
Over the years, the Buick Wildcat made cameos in a host of TV sitcoms, action/adventure shows, dramas, and/or dramedies. A ’63 can be seen in The Wonder Years (shown above), The Brady Bunch, and The Fugitive to name only a few. A ’65 is shown in Starsky and Hutch, The Streets of San Francisco, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (shown below), and CHiPs to name a few more.
1966 Buick Wildcat CSI Crime Scene InvestigationVia: IMCDb.org
The Wildcat didn’t stop there, it can also be found on the Silver Screen. Movie appearances include but aren’t limited to Walking Tall, Joe Dirt 2, Lords of Dogtown, Falling Down and Wayne’s World.
11: Prince Owned A 1964 Wildcat
Touted as the oldest Classic in The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’s car collection, his Buick Wildcat was a 1964 model. The Wildcat can be seen in his clip from the movie Under the Cherry Moon.
It is reported that Prince’s droptop Wildcat held the 360-hp, 425 cubic inch Super Wildcat. It was topped with dual four-barrel carburetors.