1953 Buick Wildcat I: The Dream Car That Beat the Odds
Most experimental vehicles — also known as “dream cars" — suffer the same fate as most reality TV stars. They rise to quick fame, are toasted with champagne and caviar for a short time, and then are consigned to permanent obscurity and an occasional mention in a coffee table book. Their innovations never become more than a designer’s short-lived fantasy. The ’53 Buick Wildcat I beat the odds, however. Not only does it survive to this day, many of its features became standard issue on later production vehicles. The main reason for building the Wildcat was to test the viability of using fiberglass components for a car’s exterior. GM execs realized that not only would this make sportscars lighter and faster, it would also cut the time from drawing board to showroom significantly, allowing the automaker to respond more quickly to a fickle public’s changing tastes. PHOTOS: See More of the 1953 Buick Wildcat I Concept
The Wildcat I had other distinguishing features, such as the wraparound windshield with a 60° rear slope. The same shape was featured on 1954’s production model, as was the general look of the headlights. The bumper and grille design also made an appearance on the 1954 assembly line versions. And, as all of us know, fiberglass bodies went on the play a major role in future vehicles.
Like most dream cars of the era, the ’53 Wildcat I was sentenced to the crusher by GM’s heads after its purpose as a promo device for the company was complete. Thankfully, it was saved from such a fate by famed auto collector Joe Bortz, restoring it to its original glory via a painstaking restoration process. It’s now a proud member of the Bortz Automobile Collection, one of the finest in the world.
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It’s a fitting place for a dream car that had so much influence on the future of automotive design.
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