Monday, October 24, 2016

Buick Wildcat III as Predictor of 1957 Line

When it came to dream cars, I think the best General Motors Motorama years were 1953-1956.  Buick Division featured three different show cars called "Wildcat" over 1953-1955.  Each car was distinctly different from the others, so despite the same name, there was no consistent Wildcat theme.

Hemmings has an article dealing with all three here, and the General Motors historical site has this to say regarding the subject of this post, the 1955 Buick Wildcat III concept car.  My take on the Wildcat III is in the captions below.


To set the stage, here is a photo of the 1953 Buick Wildcat I.  It's a two-passenger convertible with some styling features soon to appear on the redesigned 1954 Buick line.

The 1954 Buick Wildcat II is a sports-type car with a wheelbase two inches (49 mm) less than that of the Chevrolet Corvette that looks somewhat similar from the cowling aft.  Aside from the front bumper design (used in 1955) it did not influence styling of future production Buicks.

Unlike previous Wildcats, the 1955 Wildcat III show car could accommodate four passengers.  It was clearly more conventional than the Wildcat II.  Generally speaking, its design is pleasing, though the car's rear has some problems, as we'll discover below.

The windshield is doubly curved with a vertical A-pillar -- features not found on the upcoming 1957 Buick redesign.  The wide wheel openings would collect and display highway dirt and grime, so they too would not see production.  What did come to pass are the fender line, the design of the side Sweepspear trim and the termination angle of the rear fender.

Even though the Wildcat III was theoretically a four-passenger car, the back seat had little room for people.  The detailing on the trunk lid and rear is confused.  We find rounded bumper blobs with nearby thinly squashed oval exhaust pipe outlets that in turn have circular backup lights placed above them.  These items do not relate to one another.

Rear three-quarter view.  Items adapted for '57s include the chromed strips on the trunk lid, the aforementioned fender angle, and those large bumper stubs are the corners.

This is a 1957 Buick Roadmaster two-door hardtop.  As mentioned, the fender line and Sweepspear are like the Wildcat's.  The windshield here is a simpler curve and the A-pillars slant.

A '57 Buick Roadmaster four-door hardtop (Classic Car Auctions photo).  Its taillight assembly differs from the Wildcat's, but the fender termination angle is similar.  The bulbous bumper guards below the taillights are nearly the same shape as those on the Wildcat.  The chromed strips on the trunk lid are not inset liners as on the show car.  But they also relate to other aspects of the design -- in this case, the backlight segment separators.

No comments: