The Buick Wildcat began life in 1962 as an option of the Buick Invicta. From 1963 through 1970 the Buick Wildcat was its own series.
In 1962 the Wildcat featured buck seats and a center console enclosing a tachometer and transmission shifter. Under the hood was a powerful 401 cubic-inch V8 Nailhead engine that produced 325 horsepower and 445 foot-pounds of torque. The exterior featured its own emblems and a vinyl-covered roof. There were portholes located on the front fenders, a design that it shared with the Invicta and LeSabre.
When the Wildcat became its own series, a convertible and four-door hardtop sedan was added to the model lineup, which included the original two-door hardtop coupe from the prior year. Bucket seats were standard in the coupe and convertible; a bench seat was standard in the four-door version. Under the hood was the 401 cubic-inch V8 engine which stayed as standard equipment until 1966. In 1967 it was replaced with a 430 cubic-inch V8 which produced 360 horsepower. From 1964 through 1966 a 425 cubic-inch V8 was offered as optional equipment which raised horsepower to 340. A dual-quad version, meaning two four-barrel carburetors, raised the horsepower to 360. In 1966 Buick offered the GS, or Gran Sport, option which included the 425 cubic-inch V8 engine and a heavy-duty suspension. 'GS' emblems could be found throughout the vehicle; the rear axle was a performance unit.
In 1970 the Buick Wildcat was offered only in custom trim.
Buick developed a prototype vehicle called the Wildcat in 1953. This model came with a 322 cubic inch V8 engine that was rated at 188 horsepower. For its time, this vehicle was considered to be revolutionary. The body was fiberglass, and the front wheel hubs remained stationary as the wheels spun.
Considered to be Buick's first performance vehicle, the Buick Wildcat, officially named the Wildcat Sport Coupe was finally produced for the public in 1962. A full-size automobile, more closely related to a luxury sports coupe than all out performance, the introduction of the Wildcat set the stage for Buick's quest for power and even made its name available to several Buick engines of the mid-sixties.
Featured as a 'sub model' within the Buick Invicta line, and intended to compete with the Ford Thunderbird, the original Wildcat was both attractive and classy an included a rear floor lamp, a console, front bucket seats, and a tachometer. The handling of the Wildcat was improved by Buick engineers with the adjustment of the suspension. Sporty, the Wildcat included a frame which held boxed cross-members with heavy side rails, coil springs on all four corners, along with oversized 10-inch drum brakes. Weighing a massive 4,150 pounds, the Wildcat featured standard power with the Buick LT401 CID V8 which was rated at 325 bhp. This engine was also available in the regular Invicta line, but the Wildcat came with a standard 3.42:1 rear end. Nearly a total of 2,000 of these 'family-sized sports cars' were sold in 1962. Those who wished for more drag strip performance were able to option for a 4.45:1 rear end.
Receiving various new styling update for 1963, the Buick Wildcat received the name scripted on the rear fenders, within the rear cove and also across the front of the hood. The front also received a custom grille on the front. Both bucket seats and console were standard for the coupe. The same 401 CID V8 rated at 325 was brought over for this year. The model lineup was expanded to include three models, the four-door hardtop Model 4639, the two-door sport coupe Model 4647, the two-door convertible Model 4667. The four-door model ended up outselling the other two by a very wide margin, despite Buick attempting to play up the sport performance image of the Wildcat. A total of 17,519 four-door models were sold in '63, compared to 12,185 of the two-door hardtop, and 6,021 of the two-door convertible.
Considered to be 'the next best thing to owning a Riviera', the Wildcat was greatly supported by Buick. In 1964 two optional engines were included to the lineup which continued to include the standard 401 cid V8 rated at 325 bhp, these were a 425 cid V8 rated at 340 bhp and the 425 cid rated at 360 bhp. Increasing its weight to 4,500lbs, the Wildcat received extra performance. Upgraded even more, the suspension received a link stabilizer bar and a semi-floating rear axle that used a three-bar link with a track bar. An additional option was a posi-track rear axle. A new fourth model was added to the lineup, the four-door sedan Model 4669. Unfortunately, the image of the Wildcat as a performance vehicle was becoming slightly diluted though sales continued to increase. A total of 20,144 four-door sedans were sold in '64 along with 33,358 of the four-door hardtops.
In 1965 the engine continued to be carried over, though all new styling was updated on the Wildcat for this year. Sharing the same sheet metal body as the LeSabre, the Wildcat continued to keep its same unique badging and grille. The Wildcat lineup was expanded to include a total of ten models, five coupes and five sedans.
The following year, not many changes were made except for the addition of the Wildcat Custom to the lineup. The Custom featured many luxuries such as a deluxe steering wheel, plush seat materials, padded armrests and custom bucket seats. Most interesting to consumers of the performance market was the new addition of the option Y48, the Wildcat Gran Sport Performance Group. The package cost more than $381.01 over the price of the 425 V8 360 bhp engine and added a high performance 425 CID V8 with two four-barrel carbs, a chrome-plated air cleaner, cast aluminum rocker arm covers, heavy-duty suspension, dual exhaust 8.45x15 inch whitewall tires and Posi-Traction rear end. The Wildcat 465 engine, or the A8, was capable of 380 bhp and 465 lb-ft of torque. This option was only made available for one year. A total of 68,584 various Wildcat units were sold for 1966.
A brand new 430 CID engine was introduced for the 1967 model year. Rated at an impressive 360 bhp, this new engine featured 10.5:1 compression, a large four-barrel car, and hydraulic lifters. The efficiency of the engine was boosted by the added power running from a domed chamber design.
Sporting an all-new look for 1968, the Wildcat featured a fresh grille design and new body side moldings. Both standard and the more luxurious Custom Wildcat models were offered for this year.
Not many changes were made for '69 except for the addition of vertical texturing and an updated grille design. The only differences between the LeSabre and the Wildcat were in the grill and broad rocker molding with wheelhouse moldings and fender extensions. Both featured the same standard equipment, though the Wildcat featured a unique steering wheel.
By Jessica Donaldson
The final year for the Wildcat, in 1970 the standard engine was Buick's all-new 455 cid V8 rated at 370 bhp. The final model also featured a phenomenal 510 lb-ft of torque. This radical new engine had a 10:1 compression ratio, hydraulic lifters, five main bearings, a cast-iron block, and a four-barrel carburetor. Unfortunately, the LeSabre and the Wildcat were too similar, and sales were dropping considerably. Only a total of 23,000 Wildcats were sold in this year of the muscle car.
With a name that was inspired by a trio of 1950's concept vehicles, the Buick Wildcat LeSabre was fitted with the ‘Wildcat' engine that Buick had been producing since the early 1960's. This engine came in several varieties, the most popular being the Wildcat 445, which was a 401 cid engine that put out 445 ft-lbs. of torque. More of a luxury sports coupe than a performance vehicle, the Buick Wildcat is considered to be Buick's original performance vehicle. The forerunner in Buick's quest for power, the Wildcat also lent out its name during the mid sixties to several Buick engines.
The first Wildcat, the Wildcat Sport coupe was part of the Invicta line, with the addition of front bucket seats, tachometer, rear floor lamp and a console. The attractive body style was considered both elegant and classy, and had improved handling due to the adjusted suspension by Buick engineers. Weighing approximately 4,150 lbs, the Wildcat was a heavy vehicle. Oversized 10 inch drum brakes, and a frame which carried boxed cross-members with heavy side rails, and coil springs on all four corners were showcased features on this 1962 model.
Rated at a reliable 325 bhp, the Buick Wildcat had standard power in the Buick LT401 cid V8. The Wildcat was offered with a standard 3.42:1 rear end, though the Buick LT401 engine was also available in the regular Invicta line. For customers interested in even more drag strip performance, a 4.45:1 rear end was made available as an option. Around 2,000 '62 Wildcats were sold this year, marketed as a ‘family-sized sports car'.
For 1963, the Buick Wildcat underwent some styling modifications that included the name being scripted across the front of the hood, on the rear fenders, and within the rear cove. The front now displayed a custom grille. The 401 cid V8 which was rated at 325 bhp was carried over to this model. In this year the Wildcat line expanded to include three models, Model 4667; a two door convertible, Model 4647; two door sport coupe, and Model 4636; the four-door hardtop. The 4 door model became the best selling model though Buick attempted to play up the performance image of the Wildcat.
Advertised as ‘the next best thing to owning a Riviera', Buick rallied around the Wildcat in support. In 1964 two optional engines were made available, a 425 cid V8 that was rated at 340 bhp, and the top of the line 425 cid V8 that was rated at 360 bhp. The weight was still at 4,500lbs, and extra performance was needed as curb weight. A link stabilizer bar and a semi-floating rear axle that utilized a three-bar link with a track was used to upgrade the suspension. A new optional feature was a posi-track rear axle. In 1964 a new addition to the Wildcat line was the Model 4669; four door sedan.
For the 1965 model, the engines all remained the same and carried over. The Wildcat did receive all new updated styling, though it continued to keep the unique grille and badging. This new styling was necessary as the Wildcats' sheetmetal was now shared with the Buick LeSabre. The Buick Wildcat lineup was expanded to ten models, five sedans and five coupes during the 1965 model year.
For the '66 model year, the Wildcat underwent very few changes, except for the addition of the Wildcat Custom. The Custom model carried exclusive features such as a deluxe steering wheel, plush seat materials, custom bucket seats and padded armrests. The 1966 Wildcat was also equipped with an option Y48, the Wildcat Gran sport Performance Group. Adding a high performance 425 cid V8 with a pair of four barrel carburetors, cast aluminum rocker arm covers, dual exhaust, a chrome-plated air cleaner, heavy-duty suspension, Posi-Traction rear end, and 8.12x15 in. whitewall tires, the 425 V8 360 engine cost an additional $381.01 for the package. The Wildcat 465, or A8 were other names for the engine, which was good for 380 bh and 465 lb-ft of torque. It is assumed that only 21 units were ever produced, as this was the only year for this option. Sales for this year were sky-high as a total of 68,584 units were sold.
For the 1967 model year, the Buick Wildcat received an all new 430 cid engine which featured 10.5:1 compression, a four barrel carburetor, and hydraulic lifters, and was rated at a powerful 360 bhp. A new added domed chamber design increased the efficiency of the engine and intensified power.
Though still available in both standard and the more exclusive Custom models, the Buick Wildcat received an all new look for 1968 that included a new grille design and new body side moldings.
For the 1969 model year, the Buick Wildcat didn't change much, except for a new grille design with vertical texturing. The only difference between the LeSabre and the Wildcat lay in the grille and a broad rocker molding with both fender extensions and wheelhouse moldings. Both models shared the same standard equipment, though the Wildcat did feature a unique steering wheel.
By Jessica Donaldson
The final year, as the LeSabre and Wildcat were too similar, in 1970 the Buick Wildcat went out at the height of its performance. For this year, the standard engine was Buick's brand new 455 cid V8 which was rated at 370 bhp and came with an impressive 510 lb-ft of torque.