The maverick spirit of Harley Earl is on full display on the SEMA 2013 show floor in the very accurate recreation of the legendary 1954 Buick Wildcat II concept car that Earl and his legendary design team birthed. This car is both visually jarring and arresting at the same time. At first glance it appears to be a complete freak show but when you give it a second and actually pay attention to what the car is telling your eyes, it becomes something to spend some time with, examine from different angles, and drink in all the stuff that is happening. This car is not the original Buick Wildcat II concept car, it is an extremely accurate recreation of the car. The original lives in the Alfred P. Sloan Musuem in Flint, Michigan.
So what the hell is this thing? Like the concept cars from the golden age of the genre, this is a styling exercise where Harley Earl turned his guys loose to let their freak flag fly and push the boundaries of what people thought as possible in the 1950s. Earl’s influence is unmistakeable in this car. From the big “Dagmar” bumper to the rear end that is a virtual copy of the Corvette of the day, and the “waterfall” styling of the interior it bears his fingerprints. Power was supplied by a 220hp, 322ci Nailhead V8 in 1954. This car has a 425ci Nailhead in it, which we think is boss. The transmission here is a T-10 four speed. The hood was down on this car but we’re going to assume that the four carb setup also lives on this engine as the rest of the car is a near perfect duplication of the original.
Believe it or not, the body of the car is fiberglass. Again, the Corvette influence is shown there. The use of fiberglass in production cars was in its infancy when the first generation Corvette hit the streets in 1953. Those bodies were laid up on amazing mahogany molds at the original ‘Vette plant in Flint, Michigan. This car was a radical departure from the Corvette in the front and quite similar in the rear. To us, the great concept cars have those elements of both shock and familiarity happening at the same time. With a total length of just 170-inches and a height of 35-inches at the cowl, this was not the Buick that people knew. Why? The shortest 1954 Buick was nearly three feet longer than the Wildcat II and the shortest one was still taller than this one by 30-inches or more. This car may as well have been a space craft with respect to every other Buick on the planet. This space craft landed in front of the public at the 1954 New York Motorama
If we understand press reports and photos of the day when the car debuted, it had a spotlight/headlight mounted up on the cowl. This car does not have it and it seems that the original car no longer has that light either, so it may have been deleted early in the car’s life. The wheels were wire pieces straight off of a Buick Skylark. The paint color you see on the car was the one it wore at the initial unveiling and release to the public, same as the white interior. Later, the Buick was painted a dark tannish color and a two tone interior was added. We think that the blue hue with white guts is more cool and dramatic. The portholes were moved from the fender to the top of the hood, but they were still there as a familiar Buick styling cue.
As much as we love wildly modified muscle cars and altered modern machines, it is cars like this that really pique our interest. Looking at this car literally made us feel like one of the thousands that saw it in 1954 and sharing that experience that people had nearly 60 years ago is pretty awesome. Check out a bunch of our photos featuring the car below. This is one awesome hunk of
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE ALL OF OUR PHOTOS OF THE RECREATED 1954 BUICK WILDCAT II CONCEPT CAR!