Conventioneers who spotted the 1985 Buick Wildcat concept car in its first public appearance, at the 1985 Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association extravaganza in Las Vegas, might be forgiven for asking, "Could this be a Buick? Tomorrow's Buick?" One observer was heard to exclaim that "it looked like it would go better backwards than it would forwards."
Even though Buick has a long history of involvement with performance cars, and even racing cars, it's never quite been able to shed its stodgy image. People who weren't even born when Buicks had portholes somehow "remember" that the products from Flint, Michigan, are cars your father would drive.
Active participation in motorsports was one way to alter that image and attract younger customers. So Buick delved into IMSA GTP vehicles, the Trans-Am sports car circuit -- even dragsters and Indy cars. For the broader public, Buick created a series of striking auto-show concept cars, designed to broaden the marque's appeal and invigorate its staid image. One of the most memorable of these attempts has to have been the first Wildcat, which hit the auto-show circuit in 1953.
In the 1960s, this non-stodgy name went on a series of production Buicks, known for big engines and big proportions. Later yet, this far different Wildcat, low and bubble-topped, emerged from the Buick design studio. Initially billed as "a look at the future," the most recent Wildcat was one show car that hadn't shown its age.
Buick called the 1985 Wildcat concept car "an expression of muscular sculptural forms and exciting new mechanicals." Though not all of the mechanicals proved quite so thrilling, few could forget the car's dramatic glass-roofed, curvaceous form; not to mention its awesome bodyside air scoops and aggressively feline road stance. Depending on your perspective, you might have seen in its lines a teardrop, a shark, a rocket ship -- even a mushroom. Hardly a sharp edge could be found in its flowing, organic body structure.
Onlookers were advised that if a car like the Buick Wildcat concept car were to go into production, they would virtually wear it and use it "like a pair of form-fitting driving gloves." Sounds like overblown automaker hype, but the claim wasn't far from the truth. Even a glance at the low-riding creation makes one want to climb inside and take a fast spin around the block, if not the race track.
Keep reading to learn more about the 1985 Buick Wildcat concept car's design.
For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out: