Settling on a showcase shape
1985 Buick Wildcat concept sketchThe designers were originally tasked with creating a shape that would display the car’s innards the way a motorcycle does. Chuck Jordan, GM’s director of design is quoted as saying, “This was one of the best and toughest style jobs I’ve ever been on. It was a concept that Buick brought to us–to highlight a new high-technology engine with some of the mechanical appeal that a fine motorcycle has. We said, ‘That’s neat. We really ought to do that.'” Sounds interesting in conversation but apparently the team agonized over it.

1985 Buick Wildcat concept tapeMr. Jordan went on to say, “We tried like the devil and never were really successful. But we learned a lot in the process.” Dave Rand, a designer at Buick Studio I, imparted their struggles to fill the request, “We weren’t sure what we were really looking for. We tried ideas ranging from very simple to very complicated. There were probably 100 sketches on boards. It came to a point where we said, ‘Okay. Enough sketching. Let’s try some tapes.’ Actually, this [design] happened vary fast. It was more of an emotional thing than really well thought out.”

Mr. Jordan recalled, “We ended up in a different ballpark from where we started with this idea of a motorcycle with its ribs hanging out. But we ended up with a vehicle that’s spectacular in another way.”

Maybe it’s just me but, based on his comments, Mr. Jordan seemed less than satisfied with the Wildcat, apart from straying from the intended goal.

1985 Buick Wildcat concept clay

Exotic underpinnings for exotic lines
1985 Buick Wildcat concept driver side overheadThe Wildcat has all the dimensions of a modern-day exotic with an overall height of just 43.7 inches. Its front and rear wheels are 102 inches apart and the body measures 172.7 inches, from front to rear.

Underneath Wildcat is a composite carbon-fiber and vinyl-ester resin chassis. These materials, at the time usually reserved for aircraft and high-tech race car construction, comprise what is described as a true monocoque, with only minimal steel subframing around suspension mounting points. However, the car’s structural rigidity comes from the advanced composite materials.

1985 Buick Wildcat concept overheadAt its peak is a plexiglass canopy that looks as though it was shaped by the wind. And it likely was. A scale model of the car produced a drag coefficient of 0.28, and to aid even further, there is a driver-adjustable spoiler built into the back of the car that stays flush when not in use.

Wildcat is equipped with air conditioning, but the unit is reportedly not entirely up to the task. In order to keep the sun at bay, the canopy is tinted and initially planned to include either a solar-powered ventilation system (with collector panels integrated into the roof) or an LCD film that could be energized by the driver to block out solar rays.

So, without conventional doors, how does one enter the Wildcat? By opening the canopy up, as in upwards.

1985 Buick Wildcat concept canopy open

An electronic mechanism raises the canopy and locks it into position, then, with the press of a button it is automatically lowered into place again.

So how about seeing that motor, you ask? After all, the car was designed to show it off.

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