Designing the Wildcat III

Designing the Wildcat III

One more scan from the “Styling- The Look of Things”, which I posted a little of earlier this week. This was the largest portion of the book, showing the creation of a new Motorama Dream car from start to finish. It’s a unique build scenario, because the Motorama cars typically had to be functional and driveable with a real chassis, yet were usual topped with a one-off body. It’s amazing to see the enormous amount of design and clay work (and rework) that went into the development of a concept car in a no-computer era. It’s even more amazing to think that the majority of these cars were destroyed after all the labor that went into them.

The third Harley Earl-designed Buick in the series, the Wildcat III was the most realistic concept of the trio, in terms of possibly becoming a production car. Referred to as the “toy convertible” by Buick designers, the four passenger Wildcat III convertible featured a reinforced ‘fiberglas’ body painted a Seminole red with a red leather interior. The car was powered by a 280 hp Nailhead V-8, and backed by the DynaSlow automatic. Front and rear styling contained several bumper and fender elements that would appear on the 1956/ 1957 production model Buicks. The front bumper dagmars also hid the parking lights and turn signals, and the grille was a fine mesh material. There were sharp air inlets at the cowl below the wrap-around windshield and they repeated again at the rear wheel arches. Wildcat III also featured the now-famous Buick side sweep trim that would become prevalent on all 1957 Buicks, as well as a few custom Merc and Fords in the late 50s. Sadly, this car was missing in action in the late 50s, and never seen from again. Was the Cat crushed by GM or is it just sitting in Joe Bortz’s backyard?

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