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Buick Wildcat front

Buick Wildcat front view

The Buick Wildcat was a full-size automobile produced by the Buick Division of General Motors from 1962 to 1970. It took its name from a fiberglass-bodied 1953 concept car.

Overview

For its first year, the Wildcat was a 'sub-model' within the Buick Invicta series, mating the Invicta's longer full-size two-door hardtop Buick body (known as the "sport coupe," body production code 4647) with a high-performance 325 hp (242 kW) version of the 401 cu in (7 l) Nailhead V8, known as the Wildcat 445 for producing 445 ft·lbf (603 N·m) of torque. To further distance itself from the Invicta, the Wildcat had Electra 225-like taillights, a bucket seat interior, a center console with tachometer and transmission shifter. It had the famous Dynaflow transmission shared by all full-size Buicks, plus special exterior side trim, vinyl-covered roof (new for 1962), and its own unique emblem: a stylized head of a wild cat, located on each of the C-pillars. However, the Wildcat did share the LeSabre's and Invicta's trio of portholes on the front fenders, a design cue lasting only through the 1963 model year.

From 1963 to 1970 the Wildcat was its own series, no longer a subseries of the Invicta. Wildcats built starting in the 1964 model year did not have the traditional portholes, but instead had chrome hash-marks on the lower front quarter panel immediately behind the front wheel housings. Upon becoming its own full series in 1963, the Wildcat added a convertible and four-door hardtop sedan to the original two-door hardtop coupe introduced the previous year. In the four-door version, a bench seat was standard but the bucket seat and console interior used in the coupe and convertible were optional. For 1964, a pillared four-door sedan was added to the line and two levels of trim were available - standard and Custom, with a mid-line Deluxe subseries added for 1965 only. From 1966 to 1969, the base (with trim similar to the '65 Wildcat Deluxe) and Custom trims were again the sole options.The 325 hp (242 kW) 401 cubic-inch Wildcat V8 remained the standard engine through 1966. From 1964 to 1966 a larger 425 cubic-inch Wildcat V8 was also available, producing either 340 hp (254 kW) with a factory four-barrel carburetor or 360 hp (268 kW) with "dual quads" (two four-barrel carburetors). Also beginning in 1964, a three-speed manual transmission with column shift became standard equipment on all Wildcats, with either the four-speed manual (1963-65 only) or three-speed automatic Super Turbine 400 transmissions as options. Interestingly, engine names referred to engine torque output rather than engine displacement. The "Wildcat 445" was a 401 CID V8 that produced a peak torque rating of 445 ft·lbf (603 N·m), while the "Wildcat 465" was a 425 CID V8 that produced 465 ft·lbf (630 N·m) of torque. The "dual quad" version of the Wildcat 465 was dubbed "Super Wildcat."In 1966 a one-year-only Wildcat "Gran Sport Performance Group" package could be ordered by selecting the "A8/Y48" option. Two engine choices were available. The single carb 425 CID/340 hp V8 was included in the base package price but a 360 hp (268 kW) dual-carb set-up was also available at extra cost. Initially, this 20 hp (15 kW) upgrade remained a dealer installed carb/intake modification bolted to stock MT-coded engines but eventually these "Super Wildcats" could also be obtained direct from the factory with MZ-coded engines. Rounding out both the base and Super GS packages were dual exhaust, heavy-duty suspension, posi-traction and updated rear quarter-panel "GS" badging in the new, initials-only format employed on all post-1965 Gran Sports. A total of 1244 Wildcat GS's were built by Buick during the model year. Of those 242 were convertibles and the rest were hardtops. A mere 22 (consisting of an unknown mix of both body styles) earned Super Wildcat decals.

The year 1967 brought an all new engine to the Wildcat line (along with the Riviera and Electra 225) - a 430 cubic inch V8 with four-barrel carburetor and 360 hp (268 kW) rating that featured larger valves for better breathing than the previous 401/425 nailhead design that dated back to Buick's first V8 in 1953. The 430 was relatively short-lived as it was only offered through the 1969 model year. For 1970, the 430 was superseded by the largest Buick V8 engine ever - a 455 cubic-inch engine that was basically a bored and stroked version of the previous engine with the same large valve design and a horsepower rating of 370, and torque rating of more than 500 pounds.

The Wildcat, offered only in Custom trim for the final year of 1970, line was superseded by the Buick Centurion in 1971.

Wildcat concept cars

Buick has used the name Wildcat for five concept vehicles, three in the early 1950s, one in 1985 and another in 1997. The 1953 Wildcat I, 1954 Wildcat II and 1955 Wildcat III were all designed under the guidance of Harley Earl. The I and II still exist today.

The 1985 Wildcat was a radical mid-engined, all-wheel-drive sports car with an exposed high-performance, double-overhead cam V6. The chassis was built of carbon-fiber and vinyl-ester resin and the body featured a 'lift-up' canopy for entry/exit. This futuristic vehicle is still owned by Buick today, and is still operational.

In 1997, Buick made a Riviera Wildcat concept car. This car had carbon fiber instead of woodgrain trim inside and black chrome outside and its engine was modified.

Gallery

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